If you are fortunate enough to have watched the 1988 vice presidential debate between Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Sen. Dan Quayle, then you were fortunate enough to bear witness to one of the greatest debate slams of all time.

During the back-and-forth, a brash Dan Quayle compared himself to John F. Kennedy in terms of their time devoted to congressional service.

Here’s how it went:

Quayle: “I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.”

Bentsen: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

The line has been used — in one form or another — in American politics ever since as a way for candidates to deflate their opponents.

I thought of this exchange recently when Clackamas County Commissioner Jim Bernard resorted to smear tactics in his race with challenger Steve Bates of Boring, who is chairman of the Boring Community Planning Organization (CPO).

Here’s what Bernard said:

“My opponent has proven his alignment with Tea Party politics by affirming his anti-government, anti-responsible development and anti-transit stance.”

To which, I would like to say: “Commissioner Bernard, I know Steve Bates. I’ve worked with Steve Bates. My newspapers (The Outlook, Sandy Post and Estacada News) have covered him for years. He can be assertive to a fault as he makes his point. But mostly he’s a fierce advocate for his community. Commissioner Bernard, based on the untruths in your fundraising letter, I can only conclude that you are no Steve Bates.”

Bernard labels Bates as “anti-transit” because Bates led the withdrawal of Boring from TriMet service district. True, Bates did lead that charge, but it was only because the service Boring got from TriMet was deplorable, resulting in almost zero ridership, but with significant costs to local businesses.

Bernard labeled Bates as anti-responsible development, no-doubt a reference to Bates’ efforts to upend the Highway 26 Greenway Corridor Agreement as well as his efforts to stop a future freeway style interchange at 267th Avenue and Highway 26. But a careful review of the record would show that Bates wanted to make sure that Boring residents had a voice in the greenway and highway projects, and were not left out of the discussion. And he wanted to make sure that Boring residents didn’t pay the price for someone else’s pet project.

Bates was, and will continue to be, the squeaky wheel that demands attention for the community he represents, whether that be the residents of Boring, or the residents of Clackamas County. We all should be so fortunate as to have an advocate like Steve Bates.

Conservative? Sure. Tea Partier? No way.

What Bates brings to his candidacy for the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners is a no-nonsense approach to government. He wants to spend money wisely, give his constituents a voice and carefully weigh policy decisions before casting his votes.

Bernard was quoted recently during a candidates forum in Happy Valley as saying, “We tend to label one another, and that’s one thing we need to fix.” That’s good advice, Commissioner Bernard, we suggest you follow it.

Clearly, Bernard did not do his homework before authorizing his fundraising letter.

Wise voters will see beyond Bernard’s rhetoric, and cast their ballots for Steve Bates for Clackamas County Commission, Position 5. We look forward to having at least one member of the county commission who lives east of Happy Valley.

Steve Brown, executive editor, The Outlook, Sandy Post, Estacada News

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