August 28th, 2008 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News |

DENVER NOTEBOOK: Peddling Death and Sex Scandals at the Convention

Ben Westlund and Win McCormack

After last night's political theater—Sen. Hillary Clinton casting the clinching vote for Sen. Barack Obama and then Obama's "surprise" appearance—the Democratic National Convention in Denver enters its last day.

Last night about 8 p.m., I walked outside the Pepsi Center, where the convention is being held, to get some fresh air. As I walked, I noticed an extraordinarily long motorcade of SUVs and police escorts speeding toward the rear access to the arena: Obama sneaking in the back way. He might be the Democratic nominee but it appears his posse still rolls in big, black SUVs. I did not get close enough to see whether they were hybrids.

In addition to daily six hours of convention business and three hours of caucuses, there are hundreds of forums, speeches and other events associated with the convention. At least two Portlanders have attracted attention at those events.

One, Cynthia Beal of the Natural Burial Company, got ink from Congressional Quarterly, The Denver Post and Loaded Orygun, among others.

Another Portlander, Win McCormack, is wearing a couple of hats. McCormack, the editor and publisher of the literary magazine Tin House, (which will put out its first issue devoted to politics in September) is an alternate delegate for Oregon. McCormack has long been involved in Democratic politics and is one of the state's political donors. (In 2004, as WW reported, he gave $1 million to America Coming Together, a get-out-the-vote operation).

McCormack also recently published a book, You Don't Know Me: Republican Family Values, whose timing could not have been better.

The book, a compilation of more than 100 sex scandals involving Republican politicians (including former U.S. Senator Bob Packwood, McCormack's Dunthorpe neighbor), has sold briskly at the authors' table at the Colorado Convention Center.

[In the picture above, State Sen. Ben Westlund (D-Tumalo), on the left, who is running for State Treasurer, stopped by the authors' table to buy a copy. Westlund was a Republican until February 2006, when he quit the GOP to run for governor as in Independent. He subsequently abandoned that effort and became a Democrat.]

McCormack says he started noticing a high incidence of Republican sex scandals two or three years ago. He hired a California researcher to comb through records to detail those scandals and then set to work putting the raw information into book form. He chose the alphabet as an organizing principle for the book and also built a website with a searchable database of the offenders.

McCormack says he has two theories about why there have been so many GOP sex scandals. (Although Republicans have no lock on bad behavior as former President Bill Clinton, former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, among many others, could attest.)

First he says, some GOP pols get in trouble because they have trouble dealing with who they really are (such as Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who got caught playing footsie in the Minneapolis airport men's room). Others, such as the man who earned the longest entry in the book, former Georgia Congressman and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, are simply hypocrites, McCormack says.

"Guys like Gingrich ran on 'family values' to get elected but their behavior suggests they don't really believe in them," McCormack says.

He's in an enviable place for the author of a book knocking Republicans: right inside the front door of the convention center where thousands of motivated conventioneers pass daily on their way to caucus meetings.

McCormack says he did not originally plan to publish the book to coincide with the Democratic Convention. "It just worked out that way," he says. "I got lucky."
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