Oregonians on the left and center attack his ritual election-season pretense at being a moderate, when his record of voting with Bush 90% of the time and supporting the candidacy of John "Third Bush Term" McCain--not to mention his coziness with big oil in the era of $4/gal gasoline--clearly show just the opposite.
But at the other end of the political spectrum, those six months spent trying to pass for a moderate every six years aren't winning him friends among his conservative base, either.
Here's local conservative radio talking head Jayne Carroll:
When Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith first ran for statewide office, many Oregon conservatives were down right euphoric. Smith, a self-made millionaire from Eastern Oregon, was not another made-for-rejection conservative. Gordon Smith was special.
Smith's principles made him more than worthy of enthusiasm. His charm, grace, smarts, good looks and understated charisma, not to mention his almost sweet political naiveté catapulted him to the lonely rungs of Oregon Republican super stardom.
Smith's wealth appeared to be the insulation necessary to avoid the routine re-election selling-out to big money special interests.
When Gordon Smith first ran for the United States Senate, in Oregon's first statewide vote-by-mail experiment, he lost to Democrat Ron Wyden. The special election campaign to fill Bob Packwood's vacant Senate seat is considered to be one of the most insidious in modern Oregon politics. Many close to Sen. Smith believe the defeat made him a sadder, but wiser politician.[…]
Since that morning [following his defeat in 1996], Gordon Smith and Oregon have moved politically farther and farther to the left. The more "blue" Oregon becomes, the less conservative is Smith.
Some defend Smith's sellouts as following in the maverick footsteps of Mark Hatfield. But Hatfield was always a moderate-liberal Republican; Smith's dramatic metamorphosis into Wyden-lite is stunning even in a profession laden with charlatans.
Smith's expedient "change of heart" on many core value issues may be exactly what is necessary for him to keep his coveted seat in the United States Senate; yet, his spurning of those beliefs and the people who share them is immeasurably sad.
Gordon Smith was once an extraordinary man; Sen. Smith is just another politician.
"Sweet political naiveté"?
Having "the insulation necessary to avoid the routine re-election selling-out to big money special interests"?
Are we even talking about the same person?
Poor Smith--the left mocks his attempts to tack toward the center at election time because they don't believe a word of it; the right mocks him because they do believe it.
It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
(And while we're on the subject, it doesn't bode well for Smith's buddy McCain if conservatives are starting to use "maverick" as interchangeable with "sellout.")
(Cross-posted at Loaded Orygun.)