Thursday, August 9, 2007

Jeff Merkley

The 2008 senate race in Oregon took a turn for the more interesting when House Speaker Jeff Merkley joined former Department of Justice litigator Steve Novick in the Democratic primary to decide who will unseat Oregon's junior senator, Gordon Smith. Described by both candidates as a competition among friends, Oregonians will have the luxury of evaluating the goods already achieved by these fine men, as opposed to choosing between the lesser of two evils.

With a 100+ in attendance this evening at the monthly meeting of Multnomah County Dems, Merkley talked up his Myrtle Creek roots and his millwright father as well as his recent accomplishments in Salem; a smoking ban in bars, the expanded bottle bill and domestic partnership for gays and lesbians.

A short question and answer period allowed Speaker Merkley to touch on health care, biofuels and impeachment. On the latter issue, he expressed the desire to "continue to be educated" but said his "energies have to go into bringing [the troops] home from Iraq."

For his part, Steve Novick welcomed the prospect of a competitive primary.

I look forward to an inspired primary where each of us makes our case for why we must replace Gordon Smith and presents our respective visions for Oregon and America. And I propose a series of joint appearances across the state with Jeff and any other candidates that enter the primary to let voters make up their minds.


maloney said...

On the latter issue, he expressed the desire to "continue to be educated" but said his "energies have to go into bringing [the troops] home from Iraq."

sigh... this is not promising.

for me, Impeachment has become a simple matter. (obviously, as a potential Senator taking office AFTER Bush has left office, this is somewhat an academic discussion, but i think it remains pertinent...)

impeachment by the House, even if it doesn't result in a Senate conviction, would provide some measure of defense for the Constitution against future Presidents who would abuse their power. if Congress fails to act now, what exactly becomes an impeachable offense? what would a President have to do to get impeached?

i'd encourage people to watch Bill Moyers' Special on Impeachment with John Nichols and Bruce Fein. i was very much seeing Impeachment as a "political issue" as opposed to a very serious Constitutional one before I saw the segment.

if Merkley can't even say that in front of Multnomah County Democrats, a very receptive audience, then we're in trouble. Paired with his waffling on the Iraq War resolution that's getting so much hay on Blue0, i'm not convinced that Merkley would make a very strong US Senator.

Thom said...

It's important to realize that this puts Speaker Merkley in line with Oregon's Democratic delegation in Washington. Blumenauer, Hooley, DeFazio, Wu and even Wyden are looking for extensions for their 10 foot poles in order to distance themselves from this issue.

Thom said...

This seems to be shaping up as a race between an insider and an insurgent.

maloney said...

i can see why impeachment of the President would be viewed as a political issue, rather than a Constitutional one; the impeachment of President Clinton was very much a politically motivated (though justifiable) event.

however, i think that the issues surrounding THIS President are far more grave. Indefinite detention, violation of the Geneva Conventions, "extraordinary rendition," torture, refusal to cooperate with Congress, hiding documents, etc...

This President has done more to damage the office of the Presidency and the separation of powers than any since Nixon. And at least Nixon had the decency to resign when his hand was caught in the cookie jar.

Bush imagines himself as the Unitary Executive, the Imperial President, and this Congress has little to dissuade him from thinking he can get away with acting like one. They've facilitated his madness, and are themselves culpable. (which is probably one of the reasons there's so much resistance to impeachment.)

We need to elect someone to the Senate who would vote for Articles of Impeachment, should they be presented with them by the House. I'm pretty sure Wyden would, if the Oregon Delegation came around, and we know that Smith wouldn't.

The question then is: What Would Merkley Do?, and What Would Novick Do? Which one would be more likely to support/demand the impeachment of an out of control President?

My money is on Novick. (and I'm not just speaking metaphorically, since I actually have given him money.)

Thom said...

I wouldn't want a politician to support impeachment simply out of political expediency. That said, impeachment is becoming a make or break issue for many voters. For me, along with ending the Iraq occupation, impeachment is the primary concern. I can't support a candidate for public office who won't defend the Constitution by holding Bush & Co. to account. I'm not saying in the end i wouldn't vote for a person based upon their unwillingness to advocate for impeachment (the lesser of two evils scenario), but i wouldn't be motivated to provide active support, much less encourage others to do so.

My mother always told me that i was special. But i'm old enough now to know that i'm not that special. You can be sure that there's at least a significant chunk of the electorate that feels such as i. Even if it's a mere couple percent, that could sway the primary; especially given that pro-impeachment progressives are much mare adamant than those who just want to give Bush a pass.

maloney said...

i'm with you there Thom.

Support FOR impeachment can't be the core of someone's campaign, especially for a statewide race. (i'm thinking about Cindy Sheehan's challenge to Nanci Pelosi here.)

However, one's willingness or unwillingness to take a stand on impeachment if presented (in the Senate) with well-articulated Articles of Impeachment passed by the House does hold meaning to me. That's a mouthful.

I think that this President has done enough to warrant some pretty solid Articles of Impeachment. My response, if I were running, would be something along these lines:

"I would have to look at the particular Articles of Impeachment in front of me, to make sure they were substantive, but I believe that this President has knowingly allowed his Administration to violate the Constitution. If the Articles illustrate this, in a clear manner, then I would feel obligated by my oath of office to vote for the Impeachment of this, or any, President."

Two sentences. That simple. No fence sitting. One either takes an oath or one does not. If the House can't/doesn't pass Articles of Impeachment, then the Senate is essentially powerless to do anything aside from a motion of Censure.

Kari Chisholm said...

Well, it's worth noting that neither Jeff nor Steve will ever get a chance to vote on impeachment.

If successful, they'll take office in early January 2009 - right about the time that Bush and Cheney leave office.

maloney said...


I think everyone is well aware that Bush will have left office by the time that Steve (or Jeff) will take office.

One issue is one of principle. Whether or not a candidate is willing to take a clear stand on the matter. Impeachment is on the minds of lots of Americans and lots of Oregonians. It matters to us in a "What would you do in this situation?" sense.

The other is that the next President, if Bush is not Impeached, will most likely continue the power grab. Congressional inaction will set a dangerous precedent. It doesn't matter if that person is a Republican or a Democrat. Once an office has a certain level of power, it is NEVER given back, it has to be taken back.

The Congress, the House and the Senate, have a Constitutional obligation to maintain the balance of powers. This Administration has done a lot, with Congressional consent, to damage that balance of powers. I want to vote for a candidate who is committed to restoring and maintaining the checks and balances that are vital to our Democracy.

I'm disappointed in the entire Oregon delegation here, but I expect more from the Democratic members. Even if the votes aren't there, the House MUST introduce Articles of Impeachment at the very least to dissuade future Presidents from attempting to continue to construct an unaccountable Executive.

From what I've heard, and it's been little, Novick sounds more inclined to vote for Impeachment if presented with well articulated Articles. I can also see him working on encouraging his House Rep to support the Impeachment process in the event our next President continues to violate the Constitution.

Thom said...

I simply can't get excited about a candidate who is willing to give Bush, Cheney & Co. a pass on their wholesale assault on the Constitution.

The idea that candidates need to poll test their stance on impeachment before taking a stand or that they would decline to do what is right in favor of what is expedient (and i'm referring specifically to this issue) makes me ill.