Friday, April 18, 2008

Out, Damned Incumbent!

Tuesday night’s televised debate between the three leading Democratic candidates for Oregon’s contested US. Senate seat was both highly informative and surprisingly civil. The candidates, Candy Neville, Steve Novick, and Jeff Merkley, comported themselves well, were uniformly polite, articulate, well informed, and passionate about changing the status quo on a number of issues important to Oregonians.

Standing out in stark contrast to ABC’s Presidential debate, which aired Wednesday night on Channel 2, the Channel 8 affair provided prospective voters with useful information about where the respective candidates stand on various important issues—the occupation of Iraq, the economy, health care, affordable housing, and immigration among them. While there was the usual amount of political posturing going on, the ad hominem attacks and pointless rhetorical questions that have come to characterize typical political campaigns were noticeably absent.

Although I’ve been leaning toward Novick since the beginning of his campaign (and I saw nothing on Tuesday night to change my mind about this), I won’t be too disappointed if he fails to make the cut; I’ll cheerfully vote for whichever of these fine candidates ends up on the ballot. Ron Wyden needs someone to compliment his votes in the Senate, not someone who consistently cancels them out.

To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare: Out, damned incumbent! Gordon Smith has been an obstacle to progress long enough.

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