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Parsing Smith, again

Is it something about Oregon Senator Gordon Smith‘s speech patterns that simply make him hard to follow? We had a tough time trying to make sense late last year of his big Iraq speech on the Senate floor, and the new video circulating today is no easier.

On one level, the Q-and-A here is transparent enough. The question was, “Do you support a much broader extension of partnership rights through, for example in our home state, the recent domestic partnership bill that has passed? And secondly how do you reconcile your position on partnership benefits with your support of the federal marriage amendment and the marriage protection act?”

Smith disposed of the first part easily and clearly: “I am fine with what the legislature did. I think it is a good accommodation of very legitimate demands by gays and lesbians.”

The second question, though, seemed to send him backwards, forwards and sideways. His reply – you’d best listen to it yourself – seemed to revolve around concerns about defining marriage and especially federal as opposed to state determinations about it. But when he brought in the whole subject of polygamy, he vanished into verbal quicksand; you suddenly couldn’t tell what he was in favor of.

Gotta love his conclusion, though: “And I hope you understand.”

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