Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Alex Poythress: Candidate for Medford City Council

"As much as I have frustrations with Medford, I still love the place. It's beautiful. There is no rush-hour."

Alex Poythress
Alex Poythress is running for Medford City Council in Ward One. He is a 29 year old marketing entrepreneur, owning and operating internet based businesses. Ward One voters seeking an alternative to the troubled anger, drama, and disruption of Curt Ankerberg have three alternative candidates: Alex Poythress, Steve Dickson, and David Dobrin.

Poythress says he is frustrated with Medford's problems. "People have had to move out of town because of how hard it is to do business in Medford. I was about ready to move out myself," he said. But he decided instead to stay, serve in office, and be "part of the solution." He currently serves on the Medford Planning Commission, and he is Chair of the Medford Parking Commission.

Alex Poythress is forthright, saying things he said he recognizes will surprise people in their frankness. Asked what the biggest problem Medford has, he said "Talent. Lack of it." 

He said Medford's business culture is characterized by too many laid back people, people who came here to take it easy and retire. "Medford is not a great place to excel in ones career. There is not a strong talent pool for hard working, driven professionals. There isn't a hustling sentiment in Medford. The talent here is very underwhelming, and this is Medford's biggest problem."

Poythress says City of Medford could benefit from some changes, police staffing for one. He said we need many more police on the streets, and he would work to change that. How to pay for it? "There's a lot to be done looking over the budget."

Poythress's big theme is enabling Medford's growth and increasing its business vitality. He wants Medford to encourage entrepreneurs and new businesses. He credits SOREDI and says Medford should be working aggressively with them. "We need more people with hustle and talent." 

Medford is the metropolitan center for the region and city government needs to recognize and act on that, he said. He cites Bend as a model. "Downtown Bend is beautiful; Medford's is not. Bend is beautiful because it is kept that way" and that attracts tourists, new businesses, and new people.

Medford has a parking problem, he said. "Parking is a big thing You need parking for business and customers. "Some big businesses have been allowed to be sited downtown without providing adequate parking. That's not acceptable." I asked which ones. He declined to answer, saying there was one big answer, and that the answer is obvious.

Medford has a transient and homeless person problem, he said. "I want to make transients very uncomfortable. Nothing illegal. Not rough them up. But i want them to be uncomfortable  [in Medford]. We should be patrolling the greenway daily, not just doing occasional sweeps." 

Poythress has a vision for a better downtown. "I want a mall downtown, with parking structures, with window shopping, with retail downstairs and apartments upstairs. High density housing in downtown can go a long way toward revitalizing downtown." He wants more transit and bicycle use. "I am absolutely in favor of multimodal transportation. I want bike share."

And he wants more vibrant and local restaurants. "We have no local cuisine," he said. "Medford has very few small local restaurants." He said he was a home chef and takes food seriously. He said when he wants to take his wife out for a nice dinner "we need to go to one of just five local restaurants, or else drive to Jacksonville or Ashland."

Asked who on the City Council he thought was doing a good job, he said Kim Wallan. "She is an inspiration to me," he said. 

Who don't you like, I asked? He said we should replace Kevin Stine, Kay Brooks, and Clay Bearnson.

Asked how he is different from Curt Ankerberg, he said "I pay my taxes."  And there is the added element of temperament. "There is some need for decorum to have partnerships and successful negotiation, two things that are essential in government. Without that you are an empty suit." 

Ankerberg said in a Facebook post that he would work to evict the Kid Time Children Museum from the City's Carnegie building. Poythress disagreed, saying activities like that are exactly what Medford needs to affirm its family friendly atmosphere.

He plans to run a vigorous campaign, he said. Lots of advertising. Lots of Fliers. Direct mail. Yard signs. Going door to door. and other things he said will be a surprise.

Can he win? He said he recognizes that Ankerberg is well known as a perennial candidate, even if he is well known for being disruptive, angry, and in trouble with tax authorities. Poythress says he intends to become well known himself, but in a positive way.

Note: I plan to write profiles of the other Ward One candidates in future posts. 

Two prior posts profiled Ankerberg, using primarily direct quotations from Ankerberg:

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Jamie McLeod Skinner says more unites us than divides us.

Politics is policy. Politics is culture. Politics is socio-economic class.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner held a wine and cheese fundraiser in Medford, Oregon on Monday. 

It was a success.

Most of the invited guests were "active seniors", i.e. people in the 70s and 80s, and residents of a large local retirement community. 

It was a classic wine-and-cheese event, with the standard features of such an event: wine, cheese, crackers, fruit. There was a PA system, so the 80 or so attendees could hear well. There was a host who welcomed people, and thanked the volunteers who put things together. Then Jamie McLeod-Skinner spoke and answered questions for 45 minutes. Then someone "did the ask," i.e. suggested people give even more.

The event raised something over $100 per person. This is genuine grass roots democracy. It raises what I consider good clean money--money without strings, money without any expectation beyond the candidate being who she is, a progressive Democrat. Democratic politics is nearly impossible without events of this kind, and the support of people willing and able to write campaign checks like these. 

Donors at events like these are part of the Democratic, progressive coalition. Perhaps they identify as feminists, as reproductive rights advocates, as political liberals, as anti-racists, as Democrats, but they have one other attribute. They are prosperous enough to attend a wine and cheese fundraiser and chip in.

But such events are now controversial within the left. They embed a political statement: that a Democrat can and should solicit the support of the "donor class," i.e. the people comfortable enough to donate a few hundred dollars to a candidate. The attendees are donating from their abundance. These are not the struggling working class, living paycheck to paycheck. The attendees may know such people and likely have political and personal empathy for those people, but they are not themselves those people. At least not anymore. Many were poor once, but things worked out for them.

The "donor class" divides the left. Some progressives consider the prosperous,white upper middle class to be part of the problem, holding back truly progressive politics. They have privilege. White privilege. Male privilege. Wealth privilege. They are oppressors per se, because they see things from that position of privilege and are reluctant to change. The status quo worked for them. They got an education, they had interesting well-paid careers, they had employee health care, they saved money. They are thought not to see racism clearly, nor misogamy clearly, because they didn't experience it, or at least weren't crushed by it. 

People on the left perceive donors to be making micro-aggressions constantly and are clueless to the damage they do.  Especially men. They cannot help themselves. They aren't "woke" enough. They have had it easy, and don't realize it.

McLeod-Skinner was well received. She did not speak of a zero-sum world, nor of the frustrated "we" against the oppressive "they. Quite the opposite. She spoke of growing and sharing the abundance. Expanding health care access. Expanding education access. She posited divisions in America, but not a structural division between poor and rich or men and women. Rather the divisions were between rural and urban and conservative and progressive, and that even these divisions were illusions, she said.

We all want the same thing, she said. Jamie McLeod-Skinner is a unifier. 

Trump posits a divide between the good people of white native born America versus uncontrolled immigration, foreign threats, criminals. Some on the progressive left see a different divide, between the privileged people versus the people struggling to re-write the rules to end endemic racism, misogyny and rape culture, economic monopolies, cycles of debt, and class privilege.

McLeod-Skinner unified by what she didn't say, and what she did. She did not say we needed to re-make the economic system.  We are in this together. The divisions among people were cultural and could be chuckled over. She got good laughs with a reliable quip that she had less trouble telling people in rural eastern Oregon that she was gay than she had in Ashland telling people she liked country music.  It is a good useful joke. It makes light of cultural norms. It communicates that she is comfortable in two cultural worlds.

The very fact of the fundraiser communicated an additional unity: that she is comfortable in the presence of people prosperous enough to fund her campaign. She isn't trying to destroy the prosperous. She is advancing policies that will allow more people a shot at being prosperous themselves.

Monday, September 17, 2018

High School "Attempted Rape"

This is dangerous territory for Democrats.

Democrats may think they have the silver bullet.  No. They have Kodachrome.

"If you took all the girls I knew when I was single
And brought them all together for one night.
I know they'd never match my sweet imagination
Everything looks worse in black and white."
                  Simon and Garfunkel 1973

Click: Kodachrome
Democrats are grasping at straws and for a good reason. The GOP stole a Supreme Court place from them, and now they are adding a second spot to tilt the Court for a generation or more. They want to stop Kavanaugh.

But almost everything is bad about this new weapon to de-rail the appointment --except one thing. The accuser is a professionally accomplished white woman, and Republicans cannot call her a porn star or fortune hunter. 

But everything else about this fits a different meme, that Democrats and women will "cry rape" or claim "sexual harassment" in order to game the system, either to get ahead themselves or to sabotage a man. That meme is out there, and Trump personally and the GOP generally, promulgated that meme.

Is that unfair to women and does it deny the reality of sexual assault? Yes. But we are talking political effect here, not justice, and this is a political fight and nothing else at this point. Cases of this kind can fall into either of two pre-set paradigms, the just-accusation or the false-accusation, depending on the sex, race, and circumstances, and whom one wants to win.

People who want to "believe the woman" may reverse themselves when it is a white woman using a rape accusation to assert white power, e.g.the "Scottsboro Boys case. False rape accusations drive the narrative of To Kill a Mockingbird. 

It all depends. The rule of thumb is to believe the victimhood of the person we want to believe. Sometimes it is the less powerful of the participants. Black men have less power than white women. White women have less power than white men. 

Click. Falsely accused.
Choosing whom to believe feels good in a partisan fight, but it is politics, not justice. 

Politically there are problems in this case for Democrats because this story feeds the white male resentment and anxiety meme, that women use claims of sexual misbehavior as a weapon of politics, not of truth or actual injury.  

1. The story came out in dribs and drabs, from leaks. First impressions matter, and it came out as rumor, furtively, from an anonymous source.

2. It was new, essentially from out of nowhere, referencing an event about 1981, with no contemporaneous reports to others.

3. They were all young. Brett Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, were "one or two years older" than her, i.e. 17, making her 15 or 16. There was alcohol involved.

4. She says Kavanaugh groped her, which is being described as at its greatest interpretation, as "attempted rape," and she says she feared being "killed accidentally" as they tumbled on clothes. The accusation positions the accuser as passive, sexually uninterested, acted upon and unwilling, which may be true but it raises the question of the overall circumstances of the event and her interpretation of it as a victim.

5. Of course, Kavanaugh and Mark Judge deny anything happened that way.

What really happened?

Very probably something. Very possibly something improper and disreputable. We don't know and cannot know exactly. It would have been good had there been responsible adults in the house at the time of the reported incident.

Click. Teenagers do it. Problems sometimes ensue.
What we do know is that teenage memories of this kind are powerful and unreliable. Each of the participants is likely to interpret the events in a light favorable to themselves and each have their own very different reality. We know teenagers do sex play, often badly, frequently willingly, then feel weird about it, maybe guilty, maybe thrilled, maybe confused.

Politically: in the long run this will backfire on Democrats. 

In this environment, Democrats have no choice but to "believe the woman," but this means doing so under circumstances that reveal the political basis for their believe rather than the evidentiary "beyond a reasonable doubt" basis. 

The danger for Democrats is that the incident embeds a threat and vulnerability to every voter. Everyone has a history. Women are not exempt. Could someone accuse of woman of being a "slut"? Could someone claim she "came onto me?" Did he or she really kiss me first or kiss me back? Who did what, and how is it remembered by the other person?

Democrats are on safe ground when they accuse the Koch Brothers of using their power to act in a boorish, self-interested manner, taking advantage of other, weaker people. They are on unsafe ground when they make the same accusation of against voters. Going back to this incident means there may be forgetting, but there is no safe harbor.

Even if Kavanaugh is booted, when it is all done this may strengthen Trump's hand.

This isn't what Democrats intend, but it is what they are doing.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Curt Ankerberg: Watch Out, Medford. Part Two

It gets worse.  Read Ankerberg's comments on Facebook.  

Ankerberg's own words

Ankerberg leads with insults and threats. 

 "Worthless hog." 



He just might be elected to the Medford City Council. 

Curt Ankerberg has run for School Board, Medford City Council, County Commissioner, and for State Senate. So far he has always lost. But having been repeatedly on the ballot and having had Voters Pamphlet pages, Ankerberg has become a semi-familiar name.

He is in a four-person race, and each of his opponents have been involved in a variety of City boards and commissions. However, none of them appear to plan high visibility campaigns, based on their City of Medford filings. Click.  

On election day, Ankerberg may well be the best known. This blog intends to clarify to Ward One voters exactly who Ankerberg is, using his own words. They may have heard of Ankerberg. I would like voters to know what he is famous for.

Being really nasty.

Ankerberg's own words

Ankerberg was interviewed on a local AM talk radio show on Friday. On two occasions in the half-hour interview Ankerberg claimed he had four supporters on the Council. Ankerberg says he expects to be elected and to shake things up.

What kind of temperament and judgement will he use? 

This summer he threatened the nonprofit organization, the Children's Discovery Museum, the organization planning to use the City-owned Carnegie Library building.  This language matches the language and tone he uses for public comments on this blog.

I consider it intemperate, angry, vile, and destructive.

Judge for yourself.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Curt Ankerberg: Watch out, Medford.

"The only reason that Gomez won is due to her campaign cash, and the MT, and the fact that a lot of voters aren't too smart."

                           Curt Ankerberg, Candidate for Medford City Council, September 2, 2018

Candidate for City Council

Curt Ankerberg is a candidate for Medford City Council. He is in a four person race. He is the most famous of the four because he gets his name out there, because he keeps running, losing elections, and saying outrageous things.

Ankerberg loses for a good reason. People have heard of him and what they have heard is not good.

I decided to let Ankerberg simply reveal himself, with his own words.  "If I wanted something public, I'd put it in your blog," he wrote me.

Perhaps he has realized that his own published words make the case against his ability to work successfully on a governing board, so he has begun attempting to delete his comments. This blog gets comments marked "Anonymous" which come in the characteristic Ankerberg style, and many direct messages to me, but I am including only ones coming directly from him, and only ones sent for publication..

Readers should decide for themselves if Ankerberg would be a good addition to the City Council.

August 19: Curt Ankerberg has left a new comment on your post: 

You folks are fucking sick in the mind. You too, Peter! You're a sick motherfucker. Your democrat leader is more corrupt than a three dollar bill, and all you can do is fabricate nonsense concerning Trump.

You're sick in the mind, just like the transsexual lifestyles your party promotes.

Life is going great for many Americans now, and you democrats can't handle it. 

August 20: Curt Ankerberg has left a new comment on your post: 

Scott....I wouldn't want your Ruth Ginsburg doll after you stretched it out, and left it all wet and gooey. Yuck!

September 2: Curt Ankerberg has left a new comment on your post: 

First of all, I did not have a mental incapacity. I went legally blind with cataracts over a four year period, which required two eye surgeries to correct. Further, I had hydrocephalus for those four years, and my head and eye expanded like water balloons and made it impossible to function normally.

September 2: Curt Ankerberg has left a new comment on your post:

Peter is an imbecile. I'm an educated CPA with 30 years of experience, and Gomez is uneducated (no college degree). I'm a proven conservative, while Gomez is a proven liberal. I was smeared by the Mail Tribune. In spite of that, I still got 48% of the vote, in a poor voter turnout. The only reason that Gomez won is due to her campaign cash, and the MT, and the fact that a lot of voters aren't too smart, and they're swayed by glitz. Gomez is a crappy candidate once she opens her mouth, which is why you never hear her speak. 

September 6: Curt Ankerberg has left a new comment on your post's nice that Peter Sage allows anonymous sex deviants like you to post on his blog. Why don't YOU run for office, then we can match your voter pamphlet photo to the one in the post office?

Jessica Gomez is a lying piece of crap who will say anything to get elected, and if elected, her sole purpose will be to generate more corporate welfare for her sponsors. She flip-flops on the issues more than a fish. She's an idiot who didn't even graduate from college, which is why she's afraid to debate in public. Two months to go before the election, and Gomez is still hiding in her closet. When is Gomez going to debate Jeff Golden? Is she going to run your entire campaign on Facebook??? Wanna bet that Anonymous is really Gomez? Golden may be an extreme liberal, but I'd take him over a corrupt lying sack who was bought by lobbyists. 

September 11: Curt Ankerberg has left a new comment on your post

Let's call a spade a spade. Gomez is a whore of PACs. She's received all her money from PACs, and not her neighbors. They're not giving her the money because she's brilliant (she's not). They expect something in return. She's their Trojan Horse, and she'll carry their agenda, and not yours. She doesn't give a rip about your needs. She exists to carry the water for the Chamber of Commerce, and New York PACs, who don't give a shit about you. I'm a conservative, and Jeff Golden is extreme left, yet I'd choose him over Gomez because Golden is independent, and Gomez has been BOUGHT and SOLD by PACs. Gomez is a liberal in conservative's clothing, and conservatives should avoid her. 

September 13: Curt Ankerberg has left a new comment on your post 

The fact is that I've had TWO current Medford City Councilors approach me in the past two weeks, asking me if I'd create a voting block with them. That means they want to embrace my agenda. They want to create a team with me. So, Peter, you don't know what the hell you're talking about. I've already created a voting block (should I win) in order to move my agenda quickly. 

Can this guy actually win? Yes. 

He is in a four person race, and his behavior over the years has easily made him the best known of the four. He will be the name people have heard of.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Ten years ago this week

"How did you go bankrupt?"

"Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly."

Ten years ago his week America started the "suddenly" part of the financial collapse. Lehman collapsed.

Lehman. Then the dominos start falling.
There are ample news stories and retrospectives on the subject, plus some good movies which capture the mood. Movies would include "Too Big to Fail," "Margin Call," and "The Big Short."  Click on some of these to get some analysis and perspective.   Click: 10 Misconceptions      Click: Lehman's Long Shadow  Click: New Yorker  

Here is the Wiki: summary and overview:  Click: Wiki

Today's post comes from the perspective of a foot soldier on the front lines of the battleground, far from the HQ, a spectator to the collateral damage and a victim of it. 

I was a retail Financial Advisor. 

What happened suddenly is that banks and non-bank institutions that provide money for banks had a liquidity crisis. Nobody trusted anybody else not to go broke next, so business stopped. Suddenly.

The short term financing that makes money available day to day dried up. Banks would have failed, as would have General Electric, which financed itself with commercial paper that renewed each week, and AIG, which provided insurance to banks guaranteeing that the mortgage packages they owned as assets would pay off at face value. People realized they wouldn't pay off. AIG wrote lots of insurance. If AIG was broke then the banks they insured were broke.  

Click. Santelli: the Rant
The Treasury Secretary and Fed Chairman went to Congress to ask for a bailout. Congress did not want the bad publicity of bailing out rich, foolish bankers, so they voted no. Finally, then-president G. W. Bush prevailed on Democrats to do their duty, and a bi-partisan coalition of mostly Democrats approved the bailout. It may have saved the economy but it was bad politics. 

People need banks, and you cannot have banks without bankers, but voters wanted bankers to suffer. They didn't suffer enough. The theory was that they were foolish, not criminal. Some of them lost their jobs but they did not go to jail. Lots of them got their bonuses.

It just didn't feel right to voters. People who lost tens of billions of dollars are not prosecuted, but people who steal ten dollars are. 

It fueled a populist revolt in the US and around the world.

In the US there were two versions of the revolt. The right wing version was the Tea Party, and it got started with a rant against mortgage bailouts for imprudent borrowers. Rick Santelli on a Chicago trading floor asked: "How about this, president and new administration, why don't you put up a website to have people vote on the internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages? How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?"

The Tea Party was populism down, against "losers." The movement was about social class and then added an ethnic component under Trump and his appeals to white fears and resentments. The villains were foreigners taking advantage. Immigrants. Mexicans. China. Nonwhites.

Populism grew on the left as well: Bernie Sanders pointed to the "millionaires and billionaires" in his early campaign speeches, and then primarily "billionaires." A million dollars isn't as much as it used to be. The Democratic Party split between the incrementalist who want to save capitalism and the socialists who see it as irrevocably flawed. That is the fracture line between Hillary Clinton--and now Elizabeth Warren-- and Bernie Sanders. Warren wants to save capitalism by fixing it.  

Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. Sanders is leading Democrats to question capitalism itself, and Gallup polls show that skepticism of capitalism is taking hold among many Democrats. Click: Gallup

The Financial Crisis of 2008 did not end in 2008, nor under the eight years of Obama, nor is it over now. Its consequences may go on for decades.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Jeff Merkley is on the stump

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley isn't riding the Blue Wave.  He is hoping to create it by electing progressive Democrats all across the country.

Merkley Facebook profile

Including ones in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Merkley is creating a national brand.

Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley is reaching out to get known nationally, not just in Oregon. We see him on CNN and MSNBC now, saying progressive things in a mild tone of voice.  Other US senators know him as a cooperative good guy, a member of the liberal, progressive wing, one who is willing to help the campaigns of fellow senators facing a tough race. 

The national public paid close attention to Merkley for the first time when he visited the US-Mexican border to inspect the places children were housed when they were separated from their parents. He did it with trademark Merkley style. He was earnest and insistent, but not flamboyant. He didn't shout, nor chain himself to a fence. They told him "no", and they looked like they were hiding something. Merkley looked like he was proactive and doing his job. But he left. He didn't get arrested. 

Merkley set a tone: serious, but not flamboyant. 

Merkley is doing more of the same, helping candidates around the country, assisting physically and in fundraising to create a Blue Wave. This includes visits to two states where candidates go when they are thinking about--tentatively, maybe, just-wondering--if perhaps they are what the country is looking for in its next president. Merkley is in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Merkley is doing it Merkley-style. He told a group of supporters last night that he is meeting with people going door to door on behalf of good Democratic candidates, that he is sitting in voters' living rooms and porches, listening and sharing a progressive message, and that he loved doing it. He is doing it in Iowa.

Click: Editorial Profile
An editorial in an Iowa newspaper described a Merkley familiar to Oregonians. "He does not exude charisma. He describes himself as a policy wonk." The editorial said Merkley stopped by the editorial office because he "was trying to get the lay of the land and temper of the 2020 presidential cycle while campaigning for legislative candidates," 

"He is advertised by others as the most liberal candidate in the ill-defined prospective field. That's because he was a prominent supporter of Bernie Sanders. He is talking about universal health care and some of the Bernie issues. But you could sense he was trying to get a handle on rural issues that will resonate in Iowa."

Merkley emphasized in last night's conference call that his current focus is on his senate work including stopping the Kavanaugh nomination, if possible, and in the upcoming November campaign, hoping to elect enough Democrats to provide a check on Donald Trump. Merkley is not running for president, not yet, maybe never. He said he and his wife will consider it, maybe, at the beginning of the year. He doesn't want to be rushed.

Still. Iowa and New Hampshire. He didn't pick those states at random.

In Medford, this May
There is a timetable for running for president. To be a bonafide candidate in the summer and fall of 2019 a candidate needs to be building a national staff and structure by March or April of 2019, so one needs to have a feel for whether they have a shot at building caucus votes in Iowa. That means you need to be in Iowa and New Hampshire. 

The winnowing is starting now. There may be twenty viable candidates on the Democratic ballot: maybe eight senators, a couple of governors, three or four present or former mayors, and a few billionaires. And maybe others. Exactly one will rise to the top.

Voters have choices of policy and style. In 2016 voters wanted high drama. I witnessed Trump's first rally in New Hampshire in September 2015. The high school marching band stood outside the gymnasium. The bass drums pounded. There was a fiery warm up speech denouncing immigrants and terrorists. Three thousand people cheered. It felt like a pep rally. Immigrants bad! Obama bad! ACA bad! Muslims bad! 

Meanwhile, Hillary spoke to 250 people about opioid addiction in a community building, and mostly listened to others. Bernie Sanders was the Democrat who spoke with passion and roused up an audience in a middle school gym.

In 2016 voters wanted passion. Republicans apparently wanted a bar fight of insults and smack downs and tweets. They had a choice of quiet, earnest Kasich, and instead chose Trump, overwhelmingly. 

The candidate who excited Democrats was Sanders, not Hillary. She was the serious policy wonk, the candidate who sought incremental realistic progress. Democrats did their duty and voted for her, but not enough of them, and not in the right places, and a lot of people didn't bother. Therefore, Trump.

The Iowa editorial noted that Merkley is voicing the politics of rural-friendly progressivism. William Jennings Bryon did that 120 years ago, with famously high drama and passion. Merkley appears to be betting that people are fed up with high drama and passion.  He is the low drama, blue jeans progressive, listening on the front porch.

Democrats are staking out their positions and broadcasting their brands. Michael Avenatti is betting Democrats need a fighter, a bulldog, someone in Trump's face. Senator Kamala Harris is the tough questioner. Senator Cory Booker puts his career on the line to get documents. Montana Governor Steve Bullock brings red state credibility. Former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landriau brings a white southerner's credibility to race relations. And so on.

Jeff Merkley isn't yet stuck in his brand. He established an Oregon senator brand, the quiet,  serious man of the people. He has a choice. Like a student who leaves middle school to start high school in a new town, Merkley could decide that now that his voice has changed and he has grown a few inches in height, that he presents a different brand. He could say that blue jeans and quiet earnestness suited who he was--and is as a senator--but as president and commander in chief he is something different, born and raised in that past but now in a new role. Decisive. Firm. Powerful. Oratorical. Inspiring. A president, not a member of a legislative team.

That is, he could if he wants to, and if that is who Merkley really is. But Merkley's strength is his authenticity, and if earnest low drama is the one and only personae inside him, then that is the one and only brand he can and should present. 

Maybe that is what American voters are ready for. They may have had enough Trump and his bully pulpit bullying. Maybe now they want a quiet guy, Merkley.