Thursday, January 11, 2007

Some syrup for Gordon's waffle

TJ made note yesterday of Gordon Smith's cheap talk on troop escalations for Iraq.

Smith's convenient epiphany doesn't seem to come complete with an actual spine--where he's willing to give a definitive answer on his exact position. But its gaining him some sweet press, which Smith certainly needs in order to keep a hold of his up-for-reelection-senate-seat in 2008.

Smith's shifting sands positions have one definitive quality: an attempt to distance himself from an increasingly unpopular President.

I can't calculate how these moves by Smith are anything but politically motivated. Just a few months ago Smith was sending letters to his constituents articulating a hardline support for Bush in Iraq.

This is evidence by a letter to the editor which appeared in the Coos Bay World newspaper in December:

December 19, 2006

A recent front page contained a picture of Sen. Gordon Smith along with his revised statements concerning Iraq (The World, Dec. 11). He has concluded that we have failed in Iraq; that we're in the midst of a civil war and we're asking our American young men (and women) to risk their lives in the midst of this civil conflict.

I write many letters to our politicians, to Sen. Ron Wyden, Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Smith. DeFazio responds to every letter, Wyden to a great number, and Smith to only two: one responding to when I wrote him commiserating the death of his son, and the second in response to my concerns around Iraq - this past October, less than two months ago, before the elections.

I can only state that I was astounded by his second letter, with statements concerning the wonderful things we were doing in Iraq. He believed we had brought a legal and stable democracy to the county. It was the politician's mind at work to save his senatorial seat in the coming elections of 2008, not the soft-spoken man who portrays himself as always thinking about the welfare of Oregonians.

What brought about this extreme change? Could it have been the elections where Bush took a beating? Can he now separate himself from his usual lock-step pace behind the president? What does he hope to gain from this reversal? No more fear of Bush's tactics of demonizing anyone who disagrees; he must get ready for elections in 2008.

James Cunningham
Coos Bay

I spoke with Mr. Cunningham by phone. He no longer has the copy of the letter Smith's office sent to him on Iraq. But Cunningham was certainly outraged that Smith waited so long to change his position and expressed skepticism at Smith's reformation.

If Smith really expects to gain traction with the electorate on this he's going to have to articulate a definitive position AND explain the impetus for his alleged change of heart.