Until this past week I had never heard of Mark Callahan even though he's on the ballot in the Republican primary for the nomination to try to unseat Jeff Merkley. Now that he's been thrown out of a Portland newspaper interview, I think Callahan may have a future in politics, through maybe not in Oregon. In the unlikely event you have not read about it or seen the video on social media, the story goes like this:
On April 21 Callahan and three other candidates for the GOP Senate nomination were being interviewed by Willamette Week in Portland for the weekly endorsement. Candidate Jo Rae Perkins of Albany was taking part by phone because she had an engagement in Roseburg that night. The video making the digital rounds tells what happened:
While Perkins is talking, Callahan sees what Willamette Week's Nigel Jaquiss has been scribbling on his notepad. "You just wrote down ‘blah blah blah blah’ for everything that Jo Rae said,” Callahan says. “Jo Rae is a respectful woman. Why are you not respecting her by writing ‘blah blah blah blah’ in your notepad?”
Editor Mark Zusman suggests that Callahan calm down and asks him if he thinks climate change is real or a myth. "It's a myth," Callahan says. Which is when Jaquiss chimes in and asks him where he stands on the Easter Bunny.
“Are these really the questions that I was called here to answer?” Callahan shoots back. “I called you out for putting ‘blah blah blah’ on your notepad and now you’re asking me questions like this? Really? Really? Are we talking about this now? How about you ask a very serious and respectful question instead of asking a little childish question?”
Zusman tells Callahan he'll be asked to leave if there is another outburst and so far he has two strikes. More words are exchanged and Callahan is shown the door. Someone on the video, probably Zusman (it shows only the candidates, not the interviewers), tells him that "you're done."
All very entertaining so far. The bad part comes next. The two other candidates, front runners Monica Wehby and Jason Conger, stay in their seats. They do not get up and follow Callahan to the door, and they do not say what a stand-up politician would have said: "If you throw him out, we're done too."
Maybe they were hoping to snag Willamette Week's endorsement, which Conger eventually got. I guess they haven't heard that the endorsement of a Portland alternative weekly is not going to matter a whole lot in a statewide primary in the GOP. As for the newspaper men in this story, whom I liked when I met them years ago, they evidently forgot for a moment that there's never an excuse for being rude. (hh)