Friday, February 23, 2007

Ashland, Oregon Snowed In, But Not Seriously

--Written From Ashland, Oregon

I've been coming to Ashland for 23 years, but not usually in the winter, and this occasion, the opening of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for 2007, is the first time there's ever been snow on the ground. Four inches. The entire Rogue River Valley is white.

It was on a backpacking trip that someone first mentioned the annual Festival to me. Every year, there are seven non-Shakespearean plays and four Shakespearean. It is one of the great travel experiences of the West, and I recommend it unreservedly. I usually come in the summer for a week of eight plays, lectures, dinners, and have stayed in the same bed and breakfast all that time. In fact, on this occasion, the host is putting me up free, since he's not in town.

Come to Oregon! It's good for you. And there are many attractions here, Crater Lake is little more than an hour's drive away. The Redwood Highway is two hours. There's Oregon Caves and the great fruit stores of Medford.

And the plays are marvelous. This is one of the best theatres in the United States and it gets about 300,000 visitors a year.

--

My experience in political reporting is that often two candidates knock each other out of the running, and the party that has a big and bitter primary fight often does not win the election.

That happened last year in the California governor's race, when Angelides and Westly waged such a dirty primary fight, that Angelides in effect won nothing when he won it, and was not a potent candidate in the fall.

So Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have to be careful. Many rounds like this week's David Geffen dustup and both may be fatally compromised.

The candidates who looked better on the Democratic side this week were New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has impressive credentials, and former Sen. John Edwards, who, in my view, really doesn't. (Any trial lawyer who tells you he's telling you the truth, when the others aren't doesn't have too much credibility).

But Richardson and Edwards stayed above the fray this week, while Clinton and Obama sniped at each other.

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