Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Oregonian underestimates Oregon voters

When it came right down to it, Senator Gordon Smith's promised filibuster (didn't he used to think those were a bad thing?), in defense of timber payments to Oregon counties about to be cut from Bush's latest federal budget proposal, was something of an anticlimactic moment.

True, there was no muted trombone playing "wah-wah-wah"--in fact, fellow senator Ron Wyden joined in the cause, and Representatives DeFazio and Walden showed their solidarity on the floor of the House.

But, in the end, there wasn't much there there:
Because senators are adamant about passing a federal budget this week, that vote [to end Smith's filibuster] was a foregone conclusion.

His filibuster busted, Smith was restricted to speaking for however long the Senate leadership allowed.

So rather than talk all night Monday, Smith resorted to a very polite two hours on the Senate floor, which he shared with his Democratic colleague, Sen. Ron Wyden. Wyden also spoke adamantly about the need to reauthorize the county payments program.

The speeches were largely formalities, spoken to a largely empty chamber.

Smith entered the Senate chamber shortly after 2:30 p.m., and after speaking with some Senate staffers, exited a side door to negotiate for time with Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
And so on. But though Smith was denied his Jimmy Stewart atmospherics, the Oregonian gave him a rousing attaboy in the middle of today's editorial page, huffing at anyone who might suggest that Smith's pointless grandstanding was . . . well, you know:
There's no more important federal issue facing this state. The county payments law, which the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush White House allowed to expire last year, provides over $200 million a year to Oregon's rural counties. […]

So don't bother with the political chatter about county payments. Don't waste time speculating about all the reasons that Sen. Gordon Smith, who faces re-election in 2008, sought a filibuster Monday to force action on county payments.

None of that matters now. All that matters is that Oregon's delegation push together on a vital issue for the state.

No one is denying the seriousness of stakes for Oregon's rural counties. It's not a luxury; not some bit of congressional pork: Schools, police, and other basic services depend on that timber money.

But as it turns out, most Oregonians are capable of holding two thoughts in their heads at the same time, for example:
1. Restoring that federal money to Oregon's rural counties is extremely important.
2. Where the hell was Senator Smith on this issue during the six years his party was in the majority?
Gordon Smith: A year late and $200 million short.

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