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Ashland Daily Tidings: Primary down to one (And it’s not Novick) September 20, 2007

Filed under: Coverage,Primary 2008,U.S. Senate — taoiseach @ 4:50 pm

Yesterday Steve Novick, candidate for the Democratic nomination to the United States Senate, attacked sitting Sen. Gordon Smith in the vernacular of pirates. You see, September 19 of each year is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and though this is a little-known observance for the cult-like following pirates have gained since the 1990 Disney movie Shipwrecked! (or maybe not so much…), the Novick campaign thought it was an appropriate register on which to level a tax-based criticism of Smith.

It’s not simile, it’s not metaphor, heck, it’s not even satirical. I’m not even sure to whom it appeals, but the press release does embody the quirky, if somewhat absurd, campaign from the Novick team thus far. Follow the episodic trail with me: “Hard Left Hook” to “College Mascot Logic v.1” (in response to Governors endorsing Merkley) to “GOP Iraq Talking Points Fete featuring David Reinhard” to “College Mascot Logic v.2” (the bet), and now, “Talk Like a Pirate Novick”. If Novick’s campaign is supposedly a self-styled insurgent one in the mold of Wellstone and Tester, then why is he talking like Blackbeard and Bob Costas?

The Ashland Daily Tidings has had enough:

Before a vote has been cast, the race for the Democratic primary has been successfully whittled down to an unopposed race. State Rep. Jeff Merkley is the nominee.

True, Portland attorney and activist Steve Novick remains passionately in the race — even earning media attention this week with his call for Congress to push for impeachment of President Bush. But lest anyone actually take Novick seriously, he also issued a series of press releases announcing his new nickname, “Left Hook” Novick, and an attack release on “Gordon Red Ink Smith.” If that’s not enough to eradicate any hope of consideration, Novick’s release is written in honor of International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

To be fair, the editorial dismisses little-known Democratic candidates Candy Neville and Roger Obrist along with Novick, but you get the idea. Gimmicks–even in the early stages of the campaign–can backfire, even if they are composed and executed in a light-hearted manner.

The Tidings definitely exaggerates when it indicates that the Democratic primary is over. But it does merit ink and paper to call out Novick on this trivial press release, as he is campaigning for the honor and responsibility of high elective office.

Could the Novick campaign have actually wanted any media outlets to pick up this press release? If not, why post it?

According to the editorial, it only trivializes his standing the primary race:

The gimmick has drawn attention to Novick’s biggest obstacle, namely the superficial things that voters insist don’t sway them. We may never know if voters could have seen past a diminutive man with physical limitations. Novick’s attempt at humor has likely trivialized his candidacy beyond repair.

Read the rest of the editorial here.

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14 Responses to “Ashland Daily Tidings: Primary down to one (And it’s not Novick)”

  1. bdunn Says:

    Great post! I commented on this issue over at LO and people went nuts. I think it is especially damaging due to the fact that that everybody over at LO think Novick is the “policy” candidate.

  2. Pat Malach Says:

    The Mighty Ashland Daily Tidings has spoken. Kneel before it’s awesome power!

  3. torridjoe Says:

    How does he not remain the policy candidate? Did someone erase his policy positions when they posted the pirate’s tribute? (Hello–guy has a hook? How many candidates carry a pirate accessory with them every day? It would have been terrible NOT to do it).

    I think he can walk and chew gum at the same time. He’s plenty serious about what he’s doing–is a dour and humorless facade necessary EVERY day of the campaign?

  4. taoiseach Says:

    Pat, the Ashland Tidings serves a pretty liberal base, and I suspect they’ll make up a considerable part of the primary electorate. And you haven’t rebutted the argument, only the scope of the newspaper’s reach.

    TJ, the fact is it’s up on the website as part and parcel of the Novick campaign, alongside the policy statements and memoranda to Congress. And I’m pretty sure that his referring to putting Gordon Smith in “Davey Jones’ locker” is a thinly veiled death threat, fun or not.

  5. Henry Says:

    Taoisearch, that may be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard (and I ride the 14 bus line every day).

    Pat certainly made fun of the effect of the editorial board of the Ashland Daily Tidings, but I might raise the point that he’s not particularly off base. The Oregonian didn’t endorse Kulongoski in 2006. Neither, in fact, did the Ashland Daily Tidings. But, oddly enough, Gov. Kulongoski now sits behind the Governor’s desk.

    Novick never threatened Gordon Smith’s life, don’t be a child. The “Davey Jones’ locker” comment is yet another joke on pirates. You’re searching for something to be angry at, it seems.

    And, if you want somebody respond to the legitimacy of the argument, allow me. In 1990, Paul Wellstone ran an ad blatantly lifted from Roger & Me. In 1992, Russ Feingold ran an ad with Elvis endorsing him. Just last year, Jon Tester put out an ad about the appeal of his flat top hairstyle.

    People, particularly Oregonians, don’t care for stuffy politicians, poll-tested statements and stately posturing. If nothing else, a candidate with a sense of humor appeals to people who don’t otherwise care about politics. Adding a dash of spice to a political campaign (not always, but periodically) brings people to the table who otherwise feel disenfranchised. In the case of Novick, I’ve spoken to people who feel this effect. They usually hate politicians, but Novick’s humor and humanity draws them in.

    And, I’ve been wanting to ask this for awhile: did Steve Novick key your car or something? You’re truly bilous toward him, and I don’t entirely understand.

  6. I prefer a sense of humor. I used my slightly twisted one a bit too much in the 06 Primary, but then I WAS talking to OR 02 CD Democrats. Oh, poo on ADT, they need to get out more. Oh, yeah, the Democrat they liked in 06 got 32% in the General.

  7. bdunn Says:

    A sense of humor is good, true. A key component of a good sense of humor is timing and understanding the comedic situation. Novick’s sense of humor is appropriate for the “boffers” the people running around my campus with foam covered pvc pipes sword fighting not the voting public.

    David Wu’s Klingon and Vulcan speech would have been great at a Star Trek convention but doens’t make me want him as my Rep.

  8. taoiseach Says:

    Henry, this blog isn’t bilious towards any Democratic candidate; it just has a higher level of scrutiny than some other blogs. Even if I grant your argument that Novick wasn’t making a death threat (which was hyperbolic of me to suggest, I know), it would mean that Novick doesn’t have the best grasp of pirate talk. And that assertion would undermine TJ’s belief that Novick is, in fact, himself a pirate because of his left hook.

    “Davey Jones’ Locker” is a euphemism for death at sea. It’s a common watery grave for all drowned sailors. Putting someone in the locker suggests drowning them, rhetorically or otherwise.

  9. e4 Says:

    Sure, Novick’s stunt was cute, but he isn’t running for treasurer of the 4th grade. He wants to be a US SENATOR! If any of our current Senators spoke like that, or even sent out a similar press release, they’d be lambasted, and deservedly so.

    I’m not sure about others, but I really don’t care to be represented by Senator “Left-Hook.” I’d much prefer Speaker Merkley because he has elected experience and when he discusses the important aspect of tax policy, he doesn’t turn it into a skit worthy of a middle-school talent show.

  10. Henry Says:

    “And that assertion would undermine TJ’s belief that Novick is, in fact, himself a pirate because of his left hook.”

    Reductio Ad Absurdum.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum) in case you need to look it up.

  11. James Frye Says:

    Are people really getting worked up that someone used Tuesday’s “Talk Like a Pirate Day” to have a bit of fun? I’m beginning to think the Merkley people are the gift to Gordon Smith that keeps on giving! “No Gordon, I only voted that Bush was brave to go into Iraq for THE TROOPS!”

  12. darrelplant Says:

    Am I supposed to take criticism of Novick’s pirate PR stunt seriously when it’s coming from someone plugging themselves as the “Taoiseach of the Emerald Lands”? I mean, c’mon!

  13. Taoiseach Says:

    Well, at least Taoiseach is an actual elective office. Granted, it’s in Ireland, but at least that country and its citizens actually exist today, unlike pirates.

    And that criticism is rather ad hominem. I don’t write in Irish, or even speak it. You can’t spit on someone’s pseudonym as a way to attack an argument.

  14. darrelplant Says:

    I do not think you understand what the term “ad hominem” means.

    Of course I can make fun of how you present yourself if you’re criticizing how someone else’s presentation. Pot calling kettle black.

    It has nothing to do with whether your nom de blog is a hereditary position, a famous name, or something goofy you made up. Theat I knew it was a real, elected title in is what made it seem all the more self-aggrandizing.

    You can yourself Queen Elizabeth III, The Real Nelson Mandela, John the Galactic Overlord, or Taoiseach of the Emerald Lands. But in actuality, you are none of them, any more than Steve Novick was a real “Treasure Island”-style pirate (which not only don’t exist but never existed in the entertaining, fun form they currently occupy in popular culture; you’re wrong about pirates existing, however, there are plenty of them in places like the Molucca Straits).

    I thought your appellation was a little twee when I first saw it over at Blue Oregon, but I really could care less. Call yourself the King of An Tir for all I care (don’t get on the wrong side of the local SCA people, though). But if you’re going to criticize someone for making a joke and not appearing serious enough, you had better not be wearing Groucho glasses. Sin and first stones, you know.

    Erin go deo


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