The Moderate Party Should Woo Rory Smith
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.