Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Gordon Smith, Waffle King

Did I miss the news that Gordon Smith has hired Bob Shrum for his re-election campaign? Is he having trouble finding all of the golden plates that will tell him what he's supposed to do? Is he morally confused, and too distracted by Wm. Humphrey's total lack of seriousness on "the issues" over at Mercury Blogtown? Or is he simply fishing around for whatever sounds best and most improves his chances in 2008?

After reading this morning's O, and then Jeff Alworth's piece at BlueO with additional Smith comments from his appearance on Lars Larson, I think he's most likely just back to his old tricks--taking no concrete position until it's well past time (and courage) to do so:
Smith said he opposes President Bush's plan to add more troops. In recent days, however, his position on a troop escalation has seemed to waver.

On Dec. 22, Smith told The Oregonian "it's too little, too late" to send additional troops to Iraq. But on a conference call with reporters after meeting with the president Monday, Smith said, "I don't have enough information to say I'm against the (troop) surge," according to the Eugene Register-Guard and The Associated Press. That night, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," announced that Smith opposed an escalation.

In an interview with The Oregonian on Tuesday afternoon, Smith reaffirmed his opposition to increasing the troop strength in Iraq.

"I'm against it," Smith said. "I believe it simply perpetuates the status quo, which is our involvement in a sectarian civil war.

"I made this clear to the president yesterday," Smith said. "My objection is not fighting the war on terror. It's being the street cop in a civil war. The surge is about that internal fight."

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., introduced legislation Tuesday that would require a new congressional authorization for sending any additional troops to Iraq.

Smith said he had not seen Kennedy's bill so he did not want to say whether he supports it. The senator did say he likes the idea of Congress taking another look at the 2002 troop authorization "because this war has mutated into something very different from what I and others voted for."

Would Smith vote for or against a new authorization?

"It depends on what it says," Smith said. "I think I have to give myself a little elbow room."
Jesus H. Muthafuckin' Christ. So if I have this right, Smith is against the IDEA of escalation, but doesn't know enough to say if he's against actually adding troops. But he's definitely against a surge, and while he's not sure if he's for a withdrawal, he may be interested in backing a bill (the same bill he told CNN he does back!) that requires AUMF reauthorization and could lead to a denial of authorization--because this isn't the war he signed on for, although he needs "elbow room" to decide whether he might back this new war that's absurd and possibly criminal. And while the troops are doing the same things over and over with no new results, what he'd really like to see is not to have them withdraw, but to reposition themselves so that they can do the same things over and over--but in a different location...just so long as it's still inside Iraq.

It took John Kerry months to devise several different simultaneous positions on Iraq. Whoever is advising Gordon Smith (church leaders?) has managed to fashion an impressive array of competing if not contradictory positions in just a matter of weeks, thoroughly trashing whatever political advantage he may have hoped to gain in the first place. Any Democrat who might have been impressed that he was hearing his constituency now rightly has no idea WHAT his position is, and any gonzo Republican not already calling him a RINO has to wonder where his steadfast loyalty has gone. And to the independents he must look like the ultimate pander bear, espousing everything and nothing all at once.

Smith's time for wiggling is drawing to a close; the Kennedy bill, a "sense of the Senate" nonbinding resolution on rejecting a surge that will be hitting the floor soon, and a Senate version of Earl Blumenauer's withdrawal plan {windows movie file} will all be beckoning for his vote, one way or the other. Until then, you want some syrup with that waffle, Gordo?