By editorial board • 

Salem caught in grip of rampant hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is never in short supply in seats of government, including the Oregon State Capitol. However, it seems to have attained new heights here on the wings of the recent walkout by Senate Republicans, which has ground legislative gears to a halt, with a June 30 deadline looming.

Let’s start with the perennially cranky, cantankerous and hyperbolic senator from our own District 12, Brian Boquist. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as a teenager, went to serve in the elite Special Forces, ultimately rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and never made any pretense of shaking his militaristic, gun-toting, tough guy persona.

He’s full of bluff and bluster. So when he advised the state police to send well-armed bachelors if they were going to try to forcibly return him to Salem at the behest of Gov. Kate Brown, it could not have registered as high on the Richter scale as Democrats are pretending.

Yes, it seemed over the top, but it’s hard to believe anyone seriously feared any follow-through. It just provided rally-the-troops fodder to Democratic operatives in Salem and the 3 Percenters at the extreme opposite end of the political spectrum.

Kin of the anti-governmental militia forces who staged an armed seizure of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the 3 Percenters took Boquist’s words as an invitation to descend on Salem for a round of saber and sword rattling. And to his everlasting discredit, he refused the opportunity to ease the tensions with a “just kidding” mea culpa. His silence, echoed by that of his fellow Republicans, served to further rile partisans on both sides of a deepening political divide.

But some context is in order.

Did anyone take Brown seriously when she threatened to have the state police forcibly round up and return the Senate’s 11 absent Republicans? Did anyone take the state police seriously when they pretended to be preparing a battle plan? 

At least some of the AWOL 11 have apparently taken up residence in blood-red Idaho. Can anyone imagine Idaho’s staunchly Republican populace and leadership welcoming a state police contingent from its neighboring state to the deep blue left?

Hypocrisy is also being slathered on thick in Democratic denunciations of the GOP walkout in the first place.

In 2001, Kate Brown herself led the Oregon House’s minority Democrats in staging a five-day walkout, the aim being to scuttle a Republican redistricting measure. Earlier in the annals of Oregon’s political history, frustrated minority Democrats engineered a Senate walkout in 1995 and brief walkouts in both the House and Senate in 1971.

Where were the admonitions then to return to Salem and do the job you were elected to do? Well, they weren’t coming from the Democratic side, that’s for sure.

Are we disappointed with all the charades, posturing and gamesmanship? Sure. We hate to see Salem descend to the depths of D.C., where political farce is the order of the day.

But spare cries of outrage. They ring hollow.


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