- Of the rich, by the powerful, for the special interests
I'd beat Smith by showing he believes in government of the rich, by the powerful and for the special interests. Time and again he has voted to make the huge gap between the rich and powerful and the rest of us—the rising inequality that Democrat Jim Webb discussed in his successful campaign last year against now-former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.)—even worse.
- Mortgaging Your Future, Raiding Social Security
I'd beat Smith—who, comically enough, served in the last Congress as chairman of a subcommittee on "debt reduction"—by pointing out that he did as much as anyone in Congress to turn the Clinton surpluses into the more recent Bush deficits. When you vote for every tax cut in sight, and support a multi-hundred-billion-dollar war, and won't let Medicare negotiate with drug companies, and don't even try to investigate Halliburton's boondoggles, that's what you get: debt.
- Trashing the Environment
Everyone knows Smith campaigned against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—then voted for it in 2005 when it was part of a budget bill.
I'd use that fact in environmentally conscious Oregon to beat Smith. But I'd also use these facts:
When the Bush administration started loosening the rules that apply to toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants, and Democrats tried to stop them, Smith voted in 2003 to let the toxics fly, endangering public health.
Smith voted in 2004 against restoring the tax on oil and chemical companies that financed the Superfund toxic-waste cleanup program. (He'd rather have you and me pay for cleanups, out of general tax revenues—or have no cleanups at all.)
Smith has repeatedly voted against raising gas efficiency standards for cars. (He's sometimes supported weaker increases.)
Smith voted for an energy bill in 2005 that gave $11.5 billion in subsidies to the oil and gas industry.
In the past two months, the national media have anointed Smith a Republican who courageously shifted his views on the war in Iraq at the risk of alienating his party. Fortunately, Oregon voters are smarter than George Stephanopoulos and other Beltway pundits. I'd beat Smith by explaining his real record on the war.Smith is vulnerable but it won't be easy. He has over two million dollars in his war chest and the Oregonian will continue to push his phony moderate credentials.
For four years, as the war's costs rose and the casualties mounted, Smith proudly defended the war. In the fall of 2005, he told an Oregon family who lost a son in the war that they should understand that Bush was right to invade. In June 2006, when it was clear to everyone that our soldiers were caught in the crossfire of a sectarian civil war, Smith gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, praising the war as a noble struggle for "freedom" and against al Qaeda, and opposing a proposal to start setting a timetable for redeployment.
In December, after Democrats parlayed the majority's opposition to the war into the majority in Congress, Smith suddenly announced that he believed our current policy in Iraq was "absurd" and "criminal." That's what made the headlines. But in the same speech, Smith said he was open to the idea of sending more troops to Iraq. For weeks afterward, he said he might support a "troop surge." Then he said he was against it.
When Eugene's Register-Guard asked him in mid-December if he had any regret or remorse for his four-year support of the war, Smith was quoted as saying, "That's all history." Then he said on Jan. 8, "I don't have enough information to say I'm against the [troop] surge." Now, he says he's against it but won't vote for the bipartisan resolution against the escalation, because he finds the resolution "demeaning" to President Bush.
If I ran against Smith, I'd ask him a few questions. "You think this war is 'absurd' and 'criminal'—but you wouldn't vote to stop it because you were afraid of insulting George Bush? You think it's 'absurd' and 'criminal'—but you have no remorse or regret over supporting it for four years? You think it's 'absurd' and 'criminal'—but you support a presidential candidate in Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who's sworn to continue it? How many 'absurd, criminal' policies does a candidate have to support to lose your endorsement?"
If I ran, I'd point out that in January 2004 I was in Iowa working on the presidential campaign of anti-war Democrat Howard Dean. But any D could make a strong anti-war case against Smith.
This is also getting some national coverage in The Hill