Thursday, February 8, 2007

Does Smith have any idea what he's doing?

Okay, let's take a moment here to review:

When the Republicans still held both houses of Congress, they couldn't pass up an opportunity to hold forth on what a swell war Bush has gotten us into. Even to question the wisdom of Bush's policies was unpatriotic, a betrayal of our men and women in uniform, and disloyal to the president. That's what they said.

Including Gordon Smith, Oregon's junior senator.

Then they lost control of both houses of Congress in November and it was pretty obvious, despite frantic GOP spin efforts, that the main reason was that the American public was sick of the war and correctly blamed the Republicans for it.

Yipe! they thought, or something to that effect; and in short order Republicans who were vulnerable next election cycle began discovering that they had pretty darned strong objections to the war after all. They didn't so much object to the part about the Constitutional shenanigans, bone-headed diplomacy, and flat-out lies to the American people that got us into the war in the first place; nor did they seem specifically to object to the poor planning, cronyism, and war profiteering that helped make things go from bad to worse once we invaded.

No, what seemed to tweak the delicate, hair-like filaments of their moral sensibilities was their newfound awareness that the war was going badly and showed no sign of getting better. And that could hurt their re-election chances. And so, courageously indifferent to the appearance that their pronouncements seemed far more expedient than principled, they began speaking out about the war. It was wrong, said these Republicans from whose eyes the scales had fallen.

Including Gordon Smith, Oregon's junior senator.

Ah yes. But there's objecting to the war, and then there's actually--you know--objecting to the war. When the perfectly inevitable happened, when the Democratic leadership began introducing resolutions in opposition to Bush's latest defiant plans to escalate our troop commitment in Iraq--well, my god, that's just wrong, said the minority party. If we debate this war, the war that dare not speak its name, our enemies will know it's a sign of weakness. Like the neighbor's dog when the postman passes, they will smell fear. We Republicans must use all our weapons--including the same ones that we tried to dispose of forever lest they fall into Democratic hands only two short years ago--to prevent even the public debate of our war policies and goals. We must filibuster to prevent debate on the war in order to save the war, said they.

Including Gordon Smith, Oregon's junior Senator.

And now, for reasons surpassing understanding, they have come screaming back in the other direction again, like deranged lemmings who can't find the cliff, vowing to use whatever procedural or political means they can find to force debate on the same resolution they had used procedural means to prevent debate on only a week ago--forcing this debate upon (how else can one put it?) the majority party that had been trying to open the debate all along anyway. Yes, seven Senate Republicans have heroically vowed to attach the resolution that they did/didn't want to bury onto every future piece of legislation until finally, at long last, it receives the open and vigorous debate that the Republicans did/didn't/have/haven't wanted all along.

Yes--including Gordon Smith, Oregon's junior senator.

This kind of bizarrely erratic behavior could give "craven political self-interest" a bad name.

His "moderate" credentials are going to be worth about as much as a wheelbarrow full of Weimar currency with Oregon's Democratic voters in 2008. That's pretty much a given at this point. But desperate, almost incomprehensible political whipsawing like this is going to cost him with his base, too.


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