Monday, February 2, 2009

The Problem With Oregon Republicans, Part 2.

You all will recall that in my last white-paper on this subject (so called because it's mostly about white people, this being Oregon and our Republicans and all) we got up right to the point that the Republicans in Oregon found themselves at a crossroads.

Class is back in session. Take notes. I won't test you, but life and future generations will.

The Republican Party in Oregon is a group of chumps right now. Nobody likes them, not enough people will vote for them to help them win anything, and they wander about like lost calves, lowing "Why? Why have we been consigned to this wilderness? What cruel fate has sent us here?"

They are indeed at a crossroads. They can turn in the good way, or the bad way, because they present themselves with a choice: learn their lesson, talk to the people instead of at them, and spend a few cycles as the State Chumpions, or stick to the tried, true and comfortable.

Since Oregon Republicans hew to the Einsteinian definiton of insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results) the odds of that happening were likely as me becoming the next Chuck Pahlahniuk. Wouldn't cross the street on those odds.

Therefore, to signify this is the turning point at which Oregon Republicans to turn, two names came to the fore.

One, Lynn Snobgrass–er, sorry, Snodgrass (I make that mistake all the time, so if I say Snobgrass, you'll know what I mean), was famous for beginning the era of refusing to work with Democrats in the Oregon House of Reps. She was elected to the position of Sphincter of the House in 1999 and served as House Sphincter until 2001.

The position of House Sphincter is one all Oregon House Republicans aspire to. It's called such because, as with the muscle, it can close tight and not let anything through (such as when Democratic bills came toward passage) but when it opens, releases all sorts of nastiness (anything sponsored by a Republican). Snobgrass set the tone, and it reached its awesome perfection in the two terms of Karen Minnis, who, if anything, was an even tighter House Sphincter than Snobgrass was!

Minnis's reign of terror was made notable by the playing of the game Puss-in-the-Corner, although the Oregon House Republican version involved getting a Democrat in the corner and kicking them in the puss (and I mean face here, not what some of you hooligans are thinking).

Lynn Snobgrass made Karen Minnis necessary, because that trajectory only goes in one place.

The other one (before I digress any further) is professional public-employee-union bully Bob "Mr T." Tiernan. Back in the 90s his schtick was to talk smack about public employees and tell enough lies about them that eventually Joe Schmoe out in East Undershirt thought there was nothing wrong with Oregon voters helping themselves to the contracts they negotiated and gratuitiously rewriting them, in crayon if possible (fortunately saner heads on the Oregon Supreme Court pointed out that this wasn't quite fair).

State employees, to their credit, continue to serve Mr. T along with all Oregonians. Mr T, for his part, continues to Pity The Fools.

The destination of my prolix meadering above is this: Throughout the 1990s, Snobgrass and Mr. T helped to finish a reputation of Oregon Republicans as snotty bullies who either ignored or ganged up on and beat up anyone who opposed them or disagreed with them. The claimed government was broken and to prove it, got elected to the State House and proceeded to break it. The Lege, especially during the Snobgrass-Minnis Reign of Terror, produced very little of use to anyone. It was thier way or the highway (Sunset, Mt Hood, didn't matter–don't go away mad, fellah, just go away).

It took Jeff Merkley to get it working again, but that is another thing for another time.

I assert that the main reason that people don't vote Oregon Republicans in is because they're fed up with the mean, angry, "screw you if you don't like it" conservatism that was Snobgrass's and Mr T. stock in trade.

Sadly for the Republicans, that ilk has pretty much driven out any decent, reasonable, moderate Republicans that Oregon had in its party. If Tom McCall were alive today, he'd get excluded out of town on a rail. I predict that they will be pretty much throwing poop at the memory of Mark Hatfield not long after his demise; he advocated getting along with Democrats too, and that can't be tolerated–either that, or they'll remake him like the national party is remaking the image of Reagan.

So, not only did the Reupublican party in Oregon refuse to turn ... they really can't. Thier steering wheel only turns Right, too bad for them.

History will record (already has, in fact) that Mr T. ascended to the Party chair. And, as this discourse demonstrates, is already starting to leave his own bizarre stamp of personality on the party.

It would be neat if the Oregon Republican party would consign itself to the ash-heap of Oregon history; I fear we will not be that lucky. But at least with a leadership this out-of-touch with Real Oregon Reality, we can at least hope that they will wander in the wilderness for a good long time.

Next time in this series, we'll discuss Oregon Republican's communication skills–which are more suited to a virtual world than the real one. Fortunately, they seem to live in one. But I get ahead of myself.

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