Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stupid Democratic Kid Glove Treatments, Redux

Apologies for missing it in Saturday's O until now, but sadly here's more Stockholm Syndrome on Gordon Smith--this time from Mahonia Hall and in far more explicit terms, with much less reason to moderate his expressions:
Kulongoski has worked with Smith since the '90s, when Kulongoski was Oregon's attorney general and Smith was president of the state Senate.

"The reality is that whenever I have called Sen. Smith, he's always answered, and I'm going to continue to do that this next year," he said.

He also praised Smith's image in the state.

"What (Oregonians) tell me more than anything is not about issues. They like him. They think he's a good person."

Kulongoski said Smith will be a "tough opponent" because he is well-financed, and "he's got some very smart people around him." Still, Kulongoski sees a good opportunity for a Democratic challenger.
What. The. Fuck. You know what, Ted? If you're getting calls and letters back from Gordon, let us know your secret--because the rest of us feel like the people in the "dropped call" commercials...hello? Hello? If I had to cut Ron Wyden's Chief of Staff some slack, it'd be that if Smith should win re-election then they'll have to see each other in the halls for another six years. But Kulongoski is under no such burden of propriety.

I mean, what is he doing here? "What (Oregonians) tell me more than anything is not about issues. They like him. They think he's a good person." Is he writing the ads for Gordon? Is he trying to scare challengers off with the "tough opponent" crap, coming back meekly with the "shift in public opinion" line? What on earth is he doing, telling voters to look beyond the substance and merit, to be warmed by a charming, assisted-living-tuned persona? Haven't we learned anything from Sanjaya Malakar?

This is insanity. We know when you really have nothing good to say you talk about what a 'nice person' someone is, but if that was your intent it does NOT come across in a question about whether you, y'know, oppose his re-election. And that's what we're talking about here--you can't really be on board to support a candidate unless you've explained your opposition to the incumbent. Otherwise the presumption is that the incumbent isn't actually worth replacing.

Yes, the comments are buffered with the "but of course I'll support and work for our nominee" language, and I don't doubt any of that's true. Kulongoski was a champ in the last legislative elections, working hard for and being very supportive of the top challengers. (This is about Ted, but I'll lavish the same praise on Wyden: they put their time and money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting Democratic Oregon nominees, and there's no reason to suspect it won't happen again).

But the no lo contendre strategy sacrifices meaningful debate on the altar of feigned bipartisanship and expressions of hopeful comity, and most often leaves the Democrat lying on his ass in the mud, Lucy having pulled the ball away at the last minute. I'm a bad person for being repetitive, but we know it's true and yet can't seem to lurch forward: the longer we delay with false courtesies and flinching leadership, the more sons and daughters will pay for our sloth, and the higher the bill we leave our grandchildren.

And yet most Democrats act like what Harry Reid has done in the last two weeks--finally stopping with the couched language and calling the President out for his behavior--is a sure ticket to political unemployment. The act of simply challenging an opposing senator's record as wanting has become, for fear of Republican browbeating, the equivalent of a full swift-boat smear that they might pull, and thus do Democrats unliterally disarm.

This is not about red meat. It's about reacting to the truth and the danger in letting the obfuscators continue ignoring it to retain any semblance of power. It's about saying "No I will not personally defame Senator Smith, who has given his life for public service--but I will support the Democratic nominee because I don't believe we can continue the road we are on, and Republicans in the Senate are still voting to back the President and his failed policies. The things that Oregonians want for their state and their country, Democrats are showing that they are the party to help make them happen. So yes I do think Senator Smith has to be held accountable for the job he's done, and when voters compare the record I'm sure they'll make the responsible choice."

You don't have to talk bad about his momma. What you do need to say as we move along through the 110th Congress is "I am proudly voting once again to block drilling for oil in our Alaskan preserves...I wish I could say both Senators from Oregon had that full commitment to the environment." Or "I'm proud to see the rest of the country seek to meet Oregon's standards of minimum wage for all workers. I encourage Senator Smith to reconsider his opposition and give everyone what our workers in Oregon rightly enjoy."

I am being SO mild here, to make the point that it's not about rhetoric. Americans aren't afraid that Democrats are going to talk tough and then follow through by firmly challenging the President and his enablers. They're afraid the Democrats are going to make a half-hearted stab at firm rhetoric and then cave under the weight of their own doubting consultants and clueless Beltway pundits. It's not refusing to bomb anything that moves that makes you a pussy--it's failing to stand up when you KNOW you're right, and you won't stop the bully in his tracks and expose him as just that.

Democrats, imagine yourself as James Blunt here, and the amazingly beautiful Petra Nemcova is America. George Bush and his lesser sidekick Gordon Smith have come to kick sand on you. Or rather, George has come to have Karl Rove kick sand for him, and Gordon is there to say "Yeah!" and look well-combed. What's it going to be, James? Look at her! Doesn't she look awesome for being almost 231? And the way she's been treated lately...somebody's got to stop the defilement! You can do it, James! Resist the urge to tell your friends that George and his weasel friend Gordon are actually really nice guys, you just disagree who it is that should be nailing Petr...I mean, celebrating life in America. Speak up, yon metaphoric Democrat and defend her honor!