Friday, June 08, 2007

Ron Wyden--PLEASE Shut Up About Gordon Smith

In the continuing effort to bolster Gordo's image across the state, our "good" Senator has once again provided prime campaign fodder for Smith to use next year in his re-election bid:
"Fulfilling the nation's commitment to rural counties, protecting natural treasures like Mt. Hood, improving access to quality health care and guaranteeing educational opportunities for everyone - these are not Democratic or Republican goals," Wyden said. "These are Oregon goals, which is why for the last decade, Senator Smith and I have collaborated on an agenda that puts partisanship aside and puts Oregon first."
This is what Senators do. They compliment each other. And it's kind of nice when it's on the Senate floor, and the civility brings a sense of an ancient gravitas. But that's not what this is about. This press release is featured on Gordon Smith's web site on the front page; you can be sure that he's going to run ads quoting Wyden's comments about what a great bipartisan guy he is, and pointing out that Smith voted against Bush on Iraq. And with Wyden promising not to criticize Smith, those ads are going to work. If Wyden isn't going to criticize Smith as a surrogate should, the least he could do is not go out of his way to compliment him and give him bipartisan cover.
Bingo. I personally believe there is a line between so-called "negative campaigning," and simply holding someone to account and suggesting they should be replaced. Wyden apparently isn't willing to subscribe to even the latter approach, and as Matt points out what he's actually doing is painting Smith as the very thing he is not, and which he desperately wants to convince Oregonians he is--a moderate who works well across the aisle and can be trusted to work with Democrats on issues important to Oregonians.

What really chaps me about this particular statement is that everyone KNOWS Gordo hasn't done dick about county timber payments, yet Wyden offers him the opportunity to take credit for it by associating Smith with the process to restore them. What exactly he may be thinking to do this, I haven't the least idea. What he should be saying is that Smith needs to be pressuring his friend the President to stop threatening to veto the bill and get on board with the plan. Of course that would require Smith himself to be on board, which he has declined to do until the cameras are rolling.

So instead of coming out every couple of months and boosting Gordo's should-be-foundering credibility, Ron: could you PLEASE just stop saying anything about him at all? Or call him "the junior Senator from our state" if you must and pretend you never even bump into him in the men's room or at the airport on a Thursday night headed back home. But for God's sake, stop making the Democrats' job harder. If you can't say something mean, don't say anything at all, OK?