Saturday, April 28, 2007

Local Paper Chides Richardson, Who Backs Off

Relying on a commenter to this morning's piece on Richardson at Blue Oregon, and Richardson's apparent statement to the commenter in the last 24 hours, a critical op-ed in the Medford Mail Tribune seems to have at least helped to spur a backtrack in Richardson's tone.

First, yesterday's editorial from the paper closest to Richardson's Central Point base:
Now, there may in fact be those who consider the slaughter of 32 people by a deranged gunman and the passage of bills to treat homosexuals the same as everyone else to be equally tragic events.

Richardson says he "didn't intend to" connect the two.

Unfortunately for Richardson, words speak louder than intentions. And we all remember the old saying about the pavement on the road to Hell.

Richardson represents everyone in his district. Among them undoubtedly are gays and lesbians, some of them in committed, same-sex relationships.

He doesn't have to agree with legislation granting legal protection to those constituents, but he is obligated to treat them with respect.

If his newsletter introduction was intentional, it is reprehensible. If it was inadvertent, it was at best unbelievably clumsy.

If he truly did not intend to link the two events, it would have been a simple matter to move the reference to the gay-rights legislation out of the lead paragraph. Or, better yet, lead with the legislation — because that's what the newsletter is supposed to be about — and put his personal musings about the massacre closer to the end.
I'd say that's about as even-handed as Richardson deserves. Given his history with words and claims, it's being gracious to give him the benefit of the doubt as the Trib's editors say they are. But if Richardson will admit to making a mess of the way he phrased it, he can retain some face. And it seems that's what he's done:
I truly do apologize for the careless lack of sensitivity. I hope you will take the time to read the newsletter and decide for yourself whether or not the context indicates an intent to compare Monday's mass murder at Virginia Tech with Tuesday's unfortunate--in my opinion--political outcome on two legislative bills. (

Most people, who have contacted me with their concern about the newsletter and then have read it in context could see that the opening paragraph was intended to introduce the three separate articles which followed. The Mail Tribune editorialized that I need an Editor. I certainly agree with that suggestion and I wish I could afford to hire one. Right now it is nearly 10:30 p.m. on Friday night and I have just finished this week's newsletter. I still have a 4 hour drive to go home for my week-end visit.

Hopefully, you can understand that I do try to do a good job here in the Legislature. I am only one person and sometimes I make mistakes. To avoid offending I certainly would have composed last week's newsletter differently if I could go back and do so. As it is I can only explain that there was no intention to offend anyone, and try to be more careful in the future. [emph me]
He should put that in his next newsletter, frankly--but I'll accept it as a forced apology and we can move on. Of course, while we move on, I expect Jackson and Josephine County Democrats to work hard to find someone credible to run against Richardson, and to try to raise some real money. If it's a good candidate, we will find the support. And I think this is a situation where the outcry from people like us and BlueO and Goldy at the Huffington Post and McJoan at Daily Kos and Basic Rights Oregon made it hard for Richardson to ignore it. He tried earlier in the week with a blistering response to BRO, but by Saturday he's changed his tune. Good.