Oregon's junior senator would like to remain in that club by winning a third term, but the signs are it won't be easy. He's only red on the inside. Republicans are saddled with the most unpopular president in modern American history, a war that two-thirds of Americans oppose, a tanking economy and a lackluster candidate at the top of their ticket. Democrats have an exciting, charismatic presidential nominee-apparent, surging party enrollment and, above all, the distinction of not being the party that put George W. Bush in the White House.
Sensing that all this might make Gordon Smith vulnerable, the Democrats have been throwing the kitchen sink at him (not to mention a set of golf clubs; see this week's Wandering Eye, Page 11). Smith has countered with a campaign designed to show him as a moderate, non-partisan chap who has no trouble working with both sides of the aisle.
Nothing wrong with that. But last week, Smith carried bipartisanship to a historic new level: He became the first senator to try to win re-election by riding the coattails of the presidential candidate of the other party.
In a video spot, Smith touts the fact that he worked with Barack Obama in the Senate: "Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment? Barack Obama! He joined with Gordon ... to pass new laws which increase gas mileage for automobiles."
Obama's campaign quickly sent out a press release making it clear that Obama is, in fact, endorsing Smith's opponent, Jeff Merkley. It also became known that, while Smith (and six other senators) did join with Obama in sponsoring the gas mileage legislation, Obama never said anything about Smith "leading the fight" for it.
The ad could simply have said something like, "Gordon Smith teamed up with Democrats, including Barack Obama, to pass laws to improve gas mileage." Instead, Smith chose to go with a message that makes him look like a liar - and a desperate one. For that, he gets THE BOOT.
While we've got our ass-kicking boots on, we might as well deliver another BOOT to the Cascade Festival of Music - not for folding, as the venerable event announced it was doing last week, but for stiffing people who were trusting enough to buy tickets for this year's performances.
The festival's directors announced last week that the 2008 series, which was to have taken place in August, won't take place. Board President Henry Sayre said it wasn't clear how much - if any - of the ticket money would be refunded.
It's not as if nobody could see this coming: CFM announced last fall that it was $190,000 in debt. In view of that, the festival could have held off on ticket sales until the financial picture became clearer.