KGW held a debate between the two leading candidates to represent Oregon in the US Senate, Republican incumbent Gordon Smith, and Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley. The moderator was Tracy Barry, and questions were posed to both candidates by Oregon media personages Pat Dooris, Jeff Mapes, and Bill Wright.
When compared with the formats used in the two presidential debates, and the vice-presidential debate, this debate seemed rushed and the candidates were much more constrained in their answers which were limited to one minute each with an opportunity for a 30 second rebuttal.
Over the course of the debate, it seemed that each candidate had a theme that he wanted to hammer home, regardless of the question posed to him.
For Gordon Smith, he stressed "bipartisanship," expressed a desire to "reach across the aisle," and warned that Jeff Merkley would raise taxes on everyone. Smith mentioned George Bush and Dick Cheney hardly at all. And when he did mention Cheney, it was in a negative light. He admitted to supporting John McCain for president, which I imagine made him swallow hard. But he mostly dropped a lot of Democratic names (Barack Obama, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Carl Levin, Joe Biden, Ron Wyden, and Ted Kulongowski) as evidence of his independence from the Republican party. Frankly, it sounded a little desperate. Smith also promoted himself as an advocate for rural Oregon and tried to portray Merkley as exclusively "urban" in his perspective.
Jeff Merkley repeatedly tied Smith to the Bush administration, especially with Smith's vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq. He also pointed out that Gordon Smith is the chairman of the Debt Reduction Subcommittee in the US Senate and that, far from reducing the debt, has overseen an explosion, to the tune of $10 trillion, of our national debt. The course he would take as a senator followed the template laid out by the Obama campaign in the Democratic National Convention: alternative energy, education, health care. Merkley also pointed out that he is from Myrtle Creek, Oregon, and, therefore, no stranger to rural Oregon.
All in all, I didn't feel that either candidate had a clear advantage over the other. Smith started out with a disadvantage, carrying as he does the stink of the Bush administration. But, in spite of all the mean things I've said about Gordon Smith, I don't necessarily believe he is evil. And, in any case, he's a saint compared with beasts like Cheney or Junior. I was moved and touched when Senator Smith spoke, with passion, about his commitment to mental health parity, while never mentioning his own personal tragedy in this regard. In all, I believe Senator Smith is a basically decent man who just got swept up into a very bad crowd.
Of course, I'm supporting Merkley. I've met him (Merkley) and he comes across as sincere. I am satisfied that he will be honest and fair. His priorities, which he outlined last night (energy policy, education, health care) are in line with my own. And he gave me his personal assurance that he would pursue any misdoings of the Bush administration should he be elected to the Senate.
The two candidates have one more debate scheduled. We'll see what happens.
Mia gave birth to my second nephew, Gino Cariaga Humphrey, named for Mia's maternal grandfather, Gino Carnini.
Well, nephew, you come into this crazy world with many, many blessings including a wonderful mother, a noble father, a devoted grandmother, and many loving aunts and uncles.
I welcome you with all my heart. I extend my hand and my heart and my life to you from now until forever.