She's not from Oregon, sure, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was stunningly tone-deaf when she visited Portland this week. What she wanted to talk about was health care and health records, and her visit to the Oregon Health & Science University was intended to underscore that. And that part of it went off well enough.
But did neither she nor anyone on her staff pay the slightest attention to what the people on the ground - in Oregon - wanted to discuss? That was a rather different topic, federal timber payments, which have been cut off by congressional action and the absence of which have created genuine crises in a bunch of counties, especially in the southwest corner of the state.
Her only substantive comment about that was, "Where we go from here is to see how to phase this system out."
Not good enough, not nearly - these are communities in the midst of crisis. Republicans, including Senator Gordon Smith and Representative Greg Walden, promptly (and rightly) pounced on her comments. The Democrats, who ordinarily would have been happy with a visit from a House speaker, weren't thrilled either, though they tried to spread around blame for the cuts. (You had House members like Peter DeFazio pointing fingers at the Senate.)
The more pungent and pointed response comes from down Medford way, where the loss of timber money has bitten something fierce, at Rogue Pundit. That post is worth reading; it concludes, "Pelosi wasn't being candid about the phasing out of timber payments. The payments have ended, and the legislation to create a phase-out is languishing. This year, that can't be blamed on the Republicans."