T.A. Barnhart of Blue Oregon is highly irate that the Oregon GOP put up a snarky billboard about one of John Kitzhaber’s remarks – and even more irate that Oregonian political blogger Jeff Mapes wrote about it.
The big blue-and-white sign stands on Southeast Division Street in Portland – not coincidentally, right across the street from Kitzhaber headquarters. It contains only one word: “UNGOVERNABLE” – a dig at Kitzhaber’s remark toward the end of his second term as governor in 2003 that Oregon might be in that lamentable condition.
(Kitzhaber says the “ungovernable” quote was taken out of context and that he was talking about the Legislature’s failure to deal honestly with the state’s budget problems.)
Comparing the Republican billboard to the notorious Swiftboat Veterans for Truth smear campaign against Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race, Barnhart fumed: “SBVT were no doubt overjoyed that their lies were catapulted into the front of the election that year, just as the Chris Dudley campaign is probably giggling with glee that the Oregonian, and Jeff Mapes, have performed a similar favor for them.”
The fact that the billboard has now appeared on The Oregonian’s website “allows it to be Googled and spread throughout the Web,” Barnhart continued. “For a few thousand bucks, in other words, the Oregon GOP (which paid for the sign) and the Dudley campaign get an immeasurable return on their minuscule investment. … Jeff Mapes got played, and he should have known it. This was not a ‘story’; it was just a damn sign.”
Some of Barnhart’s colleagues at Blue Oregon think he’s making a big deal out of nothing. “Let's admit it: The billboard was a cute stunt,” commented Kari Chisholm. “I think Mapes gave it the minimalistic coverage it deserved. A light-hearted and cutesy blog post in the midst of hard news.”
I’m inclined to agree with Chisholm. Faithful Wandering Eye readers will recall that Blue Oregon’s Carla Axtman had some laughs back in September over lawn signs poking fun at Dudley’s maneuvers to reduce his Oregon income tax. Although some Republicans were outraged, I thought it was just a good, clean dirty trick – and the “UNGOVERNABLE” billboard also is.
Could be Barnhart is just jealous because Mapes didn’t write about the anti-Dudley lawn signs.