The Oregonian's replacement for conservative columnist David Reinhard, who left the paper last fall to become a shill for the tobacco industry, calls herself "center-right," but to The Eye's eye she looks more right than center.
Elizabeth Hovde opens her maiden column by telling us: "I'm not David Reinhard, but I'll take his hate mail."
That's a good lede, and a good gimmick for a new columnist - getting the readers steamed up at the outset to keep 'em reading, and sending in letters. Columnists don't give a damn whether they get hate mail or love mail as long as people send it.
Explaining her "right" credentials, Hovde states: "I'm pro-life. I am anti-bailouts. I think unions are outdated, overly political and that every state should have a right-to-work law ending compulsory unionism. I oppose Oregon's Death With Dignity Act; I oppose even calling it the 'Death With Dignity' Act. I am skeptical of some of Portland's Smart Growth policies and believe they've helped create massive sprawl just across the river."
She also says that "President-elect Barack Obama's talk about being your brother's keeper scares me silly, and his cradle-to-grave vision for education makes me clutch my wallet."
We're not sure just what she's talking about there, unless it's a reference to Obama's expressed desire to expand early childhood education. (We haven't heard anything about him wanting to continue it to the grave, however.)
Producing her "center" bona fides, Hovde says: "I am against torture." (Everybody is "against torture," including Dick Cheney - it all depends how you define "torture.") "I oppose drilling in environmentally sensitive locations. I'll pack out my Diet Coke cans rather than leave them at my in-laws' house where they don't recycle. I think Bill Clinton's 'Don't ask/don't tell' policy for the U.S. military is insulting. I'm against the death penalty. I want the nation to stop filling prisons with pot smokers."
Overall, we'd say that Hovde's opposition to abortion rights, labor unions, the Death With Dignity Act and Head Start put her in a minority among Oregonians and distinctly to the right of the political center, and we wish she'd have the courage to admit where she really stands.