October 22, 2009

The Moderate Party Should Woo Rory Smith

Justin Katz

Those who suggested that Monday was too early for Dan Yorke to be writing off Rory Smith may have been correct, but, well, it's Thursday, and I'm inclined to sign on with Dan's point of view. If you haven't heard the interview between the two men, from last night, it's a must-listen Podcast. Achingly clear is that Smith wants to choreograph every release and every statement, and while Dan complains mainly that such political rote isn't appropriate in a time of crisis, I think that's precisely why Smith and his advisers are so adamant about the strategy: They want a chance to charm a sufficient percentage of the center-right electorate before we're able to discern that Smith isn't really the sort of Republican whom most of us know we need, and without whom we might as well let the Democrats take the full credit for the state's final collapse.

Dan pushed and pushed to get any indication from Smith about his positions on, well, anything, even a general approach to addressing the state's core economic problems. Smith essentially described the problem itself — which is so obvious that it's nearly a tautology to define it — and promised to roll out his plan over the coming "weeks and months." When finally Dan's exasperation must have finally filled the room to a suffocating pressure, asking "what sort of Republican are you," Smith's answer was: "I'm the sort of Republican who can win in this region."

I think readers of Anchor Rising know what that means in our state's political dialect. He supported Chafee over Laffey. Providence Journal reporter Randal Edgar pinned him down as somebody who "supports abortion rights [and] civil unions between homosexuals." (Yeah, the article adds opposition to binding arbitration to the list, but Smith would be driven into the bay if he'd not taken that side.) In short, Smith is from that wing of the RIGOP meeting most frequently at the nearest golf course to discuss how they and all their friends agree that Republicans lose because they're not liberal enough on everything but some basic economic matters.

Smith declares himself to be the sole "outsider" in the race and, I'll tell you, he really isn't going to sell that branding. He's in the club, even if he hasn't yet played the politics table. If he were a true outsider, he wouldn't be able to restrain himself from giving direct answers at least to a general thrust of his solution to the state's catastrophic problems. And then there's this:

I did something crazy. I entered an iron man triathlon about a year ago... I didn't know if I was going to be able to finish the race, but I believed that I could, and I've learned in life believing is a lot more powerful than knowing. ... When I signed up, I had never run a race longer than five miles; I'd never been a biker or a swimmer. I had to learn how to swim and how to bike, and over the course of about 360 days, training two to eight hours a day, I finished in the top third of all racers.

Three hundred and sixty days of intensive training is not something that many folks who work full time and longer every week — some of them at jobs that ravage their bodies — are able to do. Finishing a triathlon is an achievement, no doubt, as would be winning the governor's seat, but outsiders don't enter into such things as personal challenges so much as desperate statements.

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Either this guy is extremely well prepared for an election run or he isn’t prepared at all. One thing is for sure – you can’t tell by this interview. Don’t know how Yorke restrained himself and didn’t try to choke an answer out of him.

As a conserviative I got the feeling that this is just another RINO trying to get some attention for himself.

Posted by: Frank at October 22, 2009 3:35 PM

"The moderate party should woo Rory Smith"

Justin, they need to get 5% of the vote.

Posted by: George at October 22, 2009 5:55 PM

I'm willing to bet right now that the Moderate party reaches >5% on straight ticket voting alone. I think enough people hate both parties that they'll connect that little line and give the party at least a few more years of existence.

Posted by: Patrick at October 22, 2009 8:08 PM

I agree. Smith was on Yorke twice and the second time was worse than the first. He needs to step into a phone booth and change into his Superman costume before going out in public again. The next time he appears he needs to be a completely different guy - fully informed, with an incisive analysis of the state's problems, and a credible plan for how he will govern.

If not, and he's the best we can do, then I can only emigrate from RI to somewhere in the United States, because this state is doomed.

Posted by: BobN at October 22, 2009 8:21 PM

The Republican Party has its nose pressed to the glass looking in the window at state government. The Democrat Party struts and frets its hour upon the stage and is bigger on bluster and cronyism than governance. The moderate Party has a better chance of winning than the Republicans, which means that its chance is slightly better than zero. So it's going to be the Democrats or Chafee, I hope to god that it's Chafee.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at October 22, 2009 10:13 PM

Wow, I commend OTL for actually making a reasonable and cogent comment. Rather than the usual bitter and unfounded attacks, he makes some sense with that one. Though I'll disagree about wanting Chafee.

Posted by: Patrick at October 22, 2009 10:39 PM

Perhaps Smith calculated his act to completely flummox Yorke and get him enraged.
Good moderate strategy.

Posted by: rhody at October 23, 2009 12:40 AM

And he should run as a Moderate because?

You take the conservative candidate who barely makes a ripple in the political waters and running for a party doing its best to become extinct before the 2010 elections and come up with that headline to feel better about the situation or was it a case of if you wish hard enough it might happen?

Don't be shocked if the Moderate candidate ends up ahead of Smith and any other Republican candidate next year. Not to mention that my money is on that person being anything but wishy washy with their agenda.

Posted by: Steve A at October 23, 2009 1:40 AM

"You take the conservative candidate who barely..."

Wait, Steve, I'm confused. Who is the conservative candidate?

Posted by: Patrick at October 23, 2009 8:48 AM

Well, thats one of the labels being thrown at Rory Smith. I guess technically he's the Republican candidate until he actually provides voters with something.

Posted by: Steve A at October 23, 2009 9:32 AM

Rory? Republican, yes. Conservative? No. Not based on the stances listed so far. Maybe for RI he's a conservative, but I think there are quite a few around here that might say his stances are a little more umm, shall we call them "Moderate"?

Posted by: Patrick at October 23, 2009 10:10 AM

What are the stances listed so far? I have read some things where people guessed on things or based opinions on past dealings of his, but I haven't heard or read anything that gave me true insight into who he is or what he stands for.

On a side note, I sometimes think of a Republican as still being from the conservative side and a Democrat the liberal side. So I wrongly interchange the party with the philosophy. It's almost like referring to all tissue as Kleenex.

Posted by: Steve A. at October 23, 2009 12:54 PM

We shall expect the crazy one from Cranston to run at a Moderate pace.

Posted by: Nostradamus at October 24, 2009 1:48 PM
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