Reader: “Oh shit. He’s only been on this a week and he’s already writing about politics.”
Well. Yesterday I had the surreal pleasure of interviewing the prospective Democratic candidates for US Senate in Oregon, for the Mercury‘s upcoming endorsement issue. It was one of those rare moments where I felt somewhat overwhelmed with my responsibility as a so-called opinion maker. Normally I’d just pick an opinion and run with it. But this time, it sort of, matters.
No, really. My opinion matters. Where are you going?
On the one hand, there’s House Speaker Jeff Merkley, whose leadership in Salem (don’t go there, nothing happens, it’s dull) has been impressive. On the other, there’s an outspoken 4’9″ outsider with a metal hook for a hand: Steve Novick. Whichever of them wins will have to take on the Republican incumbent, Gordon Smith, who to hear him spoken of, is like some combination of Jesus and Bhudda, except he’s a Republican. He’s just hard to beat, I guess.
Here’s my problem: Merkley and Novick are twins when it comes to policy. Merkley has a little more political experience, but Novick has a hook for a hand, and he’s funny. I therefore want to pick Novick. There is also a weird factor playing into my fondness for Novick: his steel right hand reminds me of the also-steel-handed Doctor No, who, while admittedly bent on world destruction, had a bag or two of charisma.
The trouble with such an “he’s funny, he’s like Dr.No” argument is that Oregon politics is full of people whose opinions are intensely well researched. I don’t expect this is going to fly with them. But isn’t that what wins elections? Being memorable? Standing out? The dreaded X-factor? I’ve decided I’m right. But I expect this opinion to fluctuate over the weekend. By Monday I’ll probably like Merkley better.
Reader: “Matt can’t write about politics without sounding like a superficial dickhead.”