My Oregon

There was this annoyingly triumphant song we used to sing in school about what a keen place Oregon was back in 1915 or so, and even as a kid I thought it was weird.  The chorus ended with, “Forward on and on…  Hail to thee, land of heroes, my O-re-gon.”

Never mind that the lyricist pronounced the final syllable the way clueless New Yorkers do, rhyming with “on,” as though my state were some hostile planet on Star Trek, they also, until recently anyway, missed the point. You see, as a more perceptive ad campaign a dozen or so years ago put it, “things look different here.”  We aren’t into this forward on and on thing.   What Oregon is rightfully famous for is limits.  Limits on suburban sprawl, embodied in our iron-clad Urban Growth Boundary.  Limits on waste, embodied in our first-in-the-nation Bottle Bill.  Heck, until the recent real estate boom, we had a cap on parking spaces downtown, based on the correct assumption that too many parking places turns, well, paradise into a parking lot.

At least since the 1960′s, even our Republicans were considerably to the left of, say, Barack Obama, as fervent advocates of the environment, women’s rights, and what have you.  As Republicans went progressively more down the rabbit hole of righty insanity in recent years, we’ve become one of the bluest of blue states; no Republican has won the governorship since 1984 and we got rid of our last Republican Senator in 2008.  In that race,  bland and moderate-seeming corporatist Gordon Smith was handed his smarmy Mormon ass by liberal hero Jeff Merkley, and it seemed all was right with the world.  For a minute, anyway.

Unfortunately, we have this other  Democratic (!) Senator, Ron Wyden, who yesterday revealed he’s sort of a taller and ganglier, but equally homely Joe Lieberman, at least as Democrats go.  He teamed up with that rising (in the Village, anyway..) star, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to offer a “bipartisan” plan to achieve the Republican’s 40 year old goal: getting rid of Medicare.  His plan, which I don’t need to tell you was hailed as “bold” by the MSM, was so much like Ryan’s utterly toxic concoction from last year that even President Obama fled the room in terror.  That’s bad.  What few other Democrats still worthy of the name there are in the House and Senate were at least as unenthusiastic.  Predictably, Republicans were smugly silent; getting their way by not doing anything is just how they, quite understandably, roll these days.

A lot of Oregonians who remember the old Wyden, before he hopped on the 1% Senatorial gravy train, may have been surprised; he ostentatiously allied himself in his early career with the “Gray Panthers,”  a feisty group of hags and geezers vehemently opposed to anything that would harm seniors.  At the time, I thought it was a wise move, at least politically; in a room full of eighty-somethings, Wyden managed to look both handsome and dynamic, at least comparatively.

Unfortunately, as he’s aged, he has, improbably, gotten a little dynamic,  particularly when it comes to defending our murderous Health Care Industry.   Although no one noticed at the time, he loudly introduced a “compromise” proposal just as Obama was crafting his then-promising Health Care Reform, which coincidentally contained all the unpopular and ineffective BS that turned the eventual bill into a millstone around every Democratic neck, including the President’s.  No doubt fortified by a lot of campaign money that must have resulted, Wyden cleverly decided not to take credit, but rather move on to the next thing, and the dollars that would come from that.

Okay, that’s politics in the new century, but really,  a nominal Democrat teaming up with Ryan?  Even in his home state and among Republicans, Ryan is about as popular as crabs in a whorehouse, and the least lucid teabaggers emphatically want government’s filthy hands off “their” Medicare.  Aside from, say, Citizens United, there’s simply no way to explain such behavior.   But no other explanation is needed, is it?

Wyden needs to have a primary opponent, but fast.  Here in the “land of heroes,” we’ve been willing to vote for him for his personality, not his looks, for way too long.  Now, like in the final scene of “The Picture of Dorian Grey,” they’ve become the same thing, and Oregon Democrats deserve better.  He isn’t up for reelection until 2014, by which time he’ll probably have bought a Florida compound next to Rush Limbaugh’s, but I’ll be waiting.  Forward on and on.


  1. avelna says:

    He’s such a corporate whore. I haven’t been paying enough attention. I hadn’t remembered that he had co-sponsored the health care compromise proposal giving the states the ability to ignore the law – which Nikki Haley has done quite handily apparently. Probably a good thing you have until 2014 to find a primary opponent.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I was easy to miss, since it was lost in the shuffle of teabaggery.
      This time, though, he got a shout out from Newt and Mitt, so he’s hit the big time.