There's been a shit stew bubbling over at Blue0 for the better part of August. The race to unseat Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) got heated up in what can only be construed as an unfortunate backfire by Mitch Gore (whose interweb handle is lestatdelc - it's an open secret, like Sen. Larry Craig. It's not like i'm outing the boy.)
As part of the initial batch of pro-Merkley threads on Blue0 since the Oregon House Speaker's announcement that the DSCC had persuaded him to join the race, "the voice of BlueOregon" posted Merkley News Roundup. It was supposed to work like Miracle-Gro for Mandate's candidate but it had more the effect of poison. Curiously missing from Blue0's in the "news" postings was OPB's article Oregon House Speaker Merkley Joins Race For U.S. Senate. Steve Novick, who is already in the race, was also interviewed for the story. I suppose a Merkley supporter might want to play down two things that came out of the article; Novick's immediate call for joint appearances (elsewhere he ups the ante, calling for debates) as well as his answer to the reporter's question on HRes 2, a resolution passed by the Oregon House at the onset of the Iraq war.
"It's a resolution that quote 'acknowledges the courage of President George W Bush.' You would not have found me saying that the war in Iraq is a reflection of the courage of President George W Bush."
The irony of the whole thing, is that this whole debate was brought to the readers of Blue0 by a current Merkley supporter. Lestatdelc was the first to spray the August 3 Roundup with Merkley's HRes 2 problem.
"What I find troubling is that Novick agreed with the BS GOP frame that Merkley voted 'for the Iraq war' which was pure spin. I am all for a competitive primary, but not one where either of our candidates throws GOP mud at the other."
Novick's campaign manager was quick to post openly the context of the OPB interview, but it seems Merkley's supporters found the truth inconvenient. They kept spinning and spinning until finally, even the Willy Week (yes, warts and all) weighed in, calling out the big boss at BlueOregon, Kari Chisholm for.. well... best read it for yourself.
So it was interesting to rise above the blog blather and hear Jeff Merkley himself try to defend his 2003 vote. And by interesting, i mean disappointing. This morning on AM620, Merkley was interviewed by KPOJ's Carl Wolfson. [click here, about half way through after the healthcare discussion - Interesting side note: you won't find this audio up on Merkley's campaign website. Steve Novick was interviewed yesterday. You'll find that audio here.]In Merkley's interview, he takes Gordon Smith to task for his "election night conversion on Iraq."
"Here is someone who basically wrapped himself in the flag and criticized those who responsibly pointed out the shortcomings and the disaster that was pending with this strategy."Merkley refers to Smith's war record as "not exactly a profile in courage." Interesting words from a politician who voted to acknowledge "the courage of George W. Bush." The end of the interview turned to this topic and it didn't take Merkley long to turn on the spin machine.
"This resolution was one that was presented as praising the courage and sacrifice and dedication of our troops. That's exactly what it said."Well, the Speaker isn't exactly telling the whole truth. He left out the resolution's praise of the troops' professionalism, which one could chalk up to oversight. Where i would take the not-so-smooth talker further to task is the following claim, which lacks a certain truthiness.
"So i stood up on the House floor and said what i had said in an article previously that the Iraq war is uh...uh...uh...using military force is uh...is uh...uh...uh...uh...uh...terrible way to approach this. And it is uh... I have grave doubts about this strategy."In sort of a John Kerry flip-flop meets a George W. Bush's signing statement, the Democratic Leader is hanging his hat on the strategy that he talked against something-or-other after he had just voted for it. I don't know what Jeff Merkley studied at Princeton. Perhaps it was Revisionist History. When he talked about the exact wording of HRes 2, this is what he left out.
Whereas the dictatorship of Iraq has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441;
Whereas the dictator Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against neighboring nations and the citizens of Iraq;
Whereas Saddam Hussein threatens the Middle East and the global economy with the threat to use weapons of mass destruction; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Oregon:
That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the Seventy-second Legislative Assembly:
(1) Acknowledge the courage of President George W. Bush, the President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, and express our support for the victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power;
... and then the resolution finally got around to praising the troops. Merkley voted for this God, country and apple pie Resolution and yet criticizes Smith as someone who "wrapped himself in the flag and criticized those who responsibly pointed out the shortcomings and the disaster that was pending with this strategy."
Not so fast there Mr. Speaker... When you stood up on the House floor to "clarify" your vote, you were far less certain that attacking Iraq was a bad idea. Here's an exact quote from your floor speach [sic]:
"I have not been and am not today persuaded that Iraq was a significant threat to the United States or that the war we fight today is the best [emphasis added] strategy to fight terrorism or the wisest application of our superpower resources."Sir, I could have told you that very day that invading Iraq was in fact NOT the "best strategy to fight terrorism." And i wouldn't have been alone. Which made this last comment of yours from the interview most baffiling.
"I think you could find only a handful of people that 2 days into this invasion stood up in public and declared their opposition to this war. I was one of them." [Jeff Merkley]
When Jeff Merkley had the chance to just say 'no' he, like most politicians wanted to have "a conversation or a debate another day."
Before the US invasion of Iraq, indeed before your vote acknowledging Bush's courage and wishing the troops godspeed, a packed City Hall chamber of Portland citizens apparently came to the conclusion long before you that attacking Iraq was not the best idea. It was probably the worst idea.
I am reminded of the recent candlelight vigil on the Hawthorne bridge. It seems our Speaker showed up to give a "speach" about demonstrating against the Iraq debacle, but when it came time to actually demonstrate... let me just say that there were 300 people at the protest and thousands of readers on Blue0, "Oregon's biggest blog," but nobody has yet been able to place the Democratic leader at the actual vigil on the bridge.
Finally, a majority of Americans believe that the Iraq war was a bad idea. So was voting for House Resolution 2, yet Merkley himself still maintains he "believes in it." He also mentioned something about "arrogant misguided civilians." ... Indeed.
Update: Seems i picked up a troll out on the information superhighway.