Sunday, June 22, 2008

Observing Gregoire Pushing Back Against The Facts

It’s been interesting observing Governor Christine Gregoire’s aggressive response to a series of recent radio ads paid for by ChangePac, the political arm of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), critical of her record on sex offenders and foster care. She hasn’t responded nearly as aggressively on two other ChangePac spots related to traffic congestion and significantly increased taxes. I suspect that’s because she’d rather not remind voters traffic congestion has become massively worse since she’s been in office, that she increased spending by 33 percent, and raised our taxes over $500 million, while turning the largest budget surplus in state history into a deficit rapidly approaching $2.5 billion — in just four years.

The ads prompted this response from Gregoire: “We have hit rock bottom in this campaign and it is only June. I call on my Republican opponent Dino Rossi to denounce the BIAW and these ads and instead run a campaign focused on good policy and the issues.”

If these mildly critical, but completely factual ads, are “rock bottom,” then we’ve hit an absolute new low for pandering to the lowest common political dominator.

The Rossi campaign’s response was immediate and directly to the point. “Gregoire and her political operatives have been shamelessly trying to smear Dino since before our campaign even began. The Washington Education Association ran radio attack ads against Dino in February, the Democratic Governor’s Association and local unions have put more than $800,000 into the new Evergreen Progress PAC that will undoubtedly be used to attack Dino, and the State Democratic Party sends out almost daily press releases filled with distortions. Is Gregoire suddenly going to take a stand against all of these groups? I wouldn’t count on it.”

The response went on to mention the growing deficit, the 33 percent increase in state spending, the 3,100 released felons and those 1,300 missing sex offenders.

Gregoire has attempted to defend herself on the sex offender and foster care issues with faux outrage and by trotting out her endorsements from the Law Enforcement Administrators of Washington (LAW) and the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs (WACOPS) — two lobbying groups.

When that didn’t work, she upped the ante and sent out a fundraising e-mail saying, “Governor Gregoire has been endorsed by EVERY major police and law enforcement organization in Washington.”

That’s a blatant lie. While organized labor is considered one of Gregoire’s strongholds, Rossi, has actually been endorsed by a number of police unions, including the state’s largest, the King County Police Officers Guild, as well as the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild, Port Orchard Police Association, and the Renton, Lakewood and Skamania County Police Officer’s Guilds. Look for even more police endorsements shortly.

But she couldn’t resist taking it step further by saying, “It’s clear that our Republican opponent and his friends will say and do anything to bring the failed policies of the Bush Administration to our state.”

Oh please... Exactly what does George Bush have to do with sex offenders running loose in our state?

Through all her bluster, Gregoire still failed to address just how many of those 1,300 plus untraceable sex offenders are now accounted for by the State. If the number were significant, it’s difficult to imagine her not using it to shoot back.

Meanwhile, Gregoire unveiled a her own attack ads shortly afterwards, coupled with a You Tube video from the state Democratic Party attempting to paint Rossi as a Mafioso — compete with music from The Soprano’s. The Italian-American community reacted angrily, demanding an apology, that Party Chair Dwight Pelz step down, and that the video be pulled immediately.

The Democrats offered a lukewarm admission of guilt, and pulled the video, but just imagine the righteous indignation, and how Rossi would have been vilified by the party that claims to pride itself on itself on acceptance of diversity, had this example of blatant bigotry come from the Republicans.

It appears to me Gregoire’s defensive strategy is all about misdirection. She also knows her media friends will buy into that misdirection, which casts BIAW — a tough, activist political adversary with a conservative bent, that’s done battle with Gregoire over all the decades she’s been in government — as the issue. That’s because she doesn’t want to address the real issues that have been raised in the ads. So she manufactures outrage over independent expenditures — even though her allies at the teachers union funded the very first attack ads in this campaign. Meanwhile, other labor unions, and extremist environmental groups will no doubt launch their own media offensives against Rossi.

Whether or not Gregoire’s fake outrage and misdirection will play with the voters, still remains to be seen.

However this brings the issue of the tons of cash that will continue to be spent on both sides of the Governor’s race — cash neither Gregoire nor Rossi have much control over — to the forefront. In spite of the candidate’s rhetoric, it’s not as if outside groups on either side of the governor’s race are likely to become more polite between now and November.

In other words, no matter who you support for governor, this is going to get real ugly before it’s all over..

Finally, it would be remiss to not quote state Democratic spokesperson Kelly Steele, because it puts this entire issue into perspective.

“Presumably people or groups supporting the governor share the vision of a majority of Washingtonians — affordable health care, investments in public education and support for working families all across this state,” Steele said. “Rossi’s backers oppose that agenda and represent the narrow agenda of moneyed special interests.”

It’s no secret political spokespeople are paid handsomely to come up with such serious sounding, but pinheaded, politically partisan, pap. But does any thinking person actually believe that the BIAW, the Association of Washington Business, the NFIB, the Farm Bureau and the dozens of other organizations that have endorsed Rossi — not to mention all those police officers — are simply “moneyed special interests,” while unions, environmentalists, teachers, and all the other groups supporting the governor and her party’s agenda are merely interested in the greater good? I think not. The voters just aren’t that stupid.

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