October 20, 2006
The Tri-City Herald is Soft Like Butter

And not because they endorsed Maria Cantwell today. I don't agree with their editorial, but it does weigh relevant policy issues carefully before rendering judgment. Putting aside their endorsement though, someone has got to take umbrage with their wimpish whining about attacks against Maria Cantwell.

The Herald has the gall to assert:

Both sides ought to be ashamed of the negative tone their campaigns have taken in recent weeks, but the worst of it comes from outside sources.

It's especially disappointing to see the venomous, relentless attacks by surrogates on the incumbent senator, Cantwell, turning more toxic and unreasonable as the election draws closer.

This in what might be one of the more boring competitive statewide races we've seen in Washington State in sometime. Cantwell's two recent attack ads and McGavick's responses are both relatively tame in the spectrum of modern politics (readers with memory of Cantwell's 2000 campaign will recall ads targeting Slade Gorton on Social Security and mining in the Okanogan that were much more vicious, let alone ads from independent sources in that race). Moreover, outside groups are hardly playing a role in this race, as this story which headlines the Herald's own website as of this typing recounts.

Seasoned political hands will recognize the tenor of this Senate race is remarkably tame, probably to McGavick's overall misfortune. If one has been watching TV ads and debates in other Senate races around the country one can tell this race has none of the venom this editorial bemoans. Close races in Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia have descended into harsh and sometimes truly nasty attacks from both sides (see this site to browse relevant debates and ads from those states). Washington meanwhile is left with little controversy, few if any vitriolic ads, and hardly any fact checking necessary from the state's corps of political reporters.

Apparently, however, the Tri-City Herald's editorial board is a collection of uptight prudes, unable to handle this NRSC video circulated via an email press release, which has received virtually no coverage outside of the blogosphere.

The video really isn't that good, but it takes Cantwell to task for the odd financial intertwine she holds with Ron Dotzauer, a subject that has been covered by the MSM. The video even implies the two have had sex. Someone may want to tell the Herald people sometimes do that, and in Cantwell and Dotzauer's case that fact has been common knowledge in political circles for ages, even before Stefan essentially confirmed it.

Likely to his detriment, McGavick has run one of the cleanest campaigns in this state's memory, to the point even the national media has reported his civility "drives the people at the NRSC nuts." Yet, the Herald says this:

As to the bitterness of the campaign, McGavick's failure to stop the personal attacks on Cantwell makes it appear he has lost control over his own campaign.

McGavick told Herald Washington correspondent Les Blumenthal that partisanship has only grown worse in Congress since he served on Gorton's staff.

"I'm running against rank partisanship," he said.

Yet McGavick can't completely disassociate himself from some of his party's particularly offensive attempts to slander Cantwell's personal life, rummaging through someone else's divorce papers.

The airwaves, and more particularly the Internet, bristle with invective from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

It's exactly the sort of campaign McGavick says he deplores. If his party apparatus pays so little attention to what he wants now, that does not look good for the future.

If you need to take a moment to bash your head into your keyboard in frustration please do so now.

The Herald seems to have missed the dawning of the modern era of politics, where candidates can control their campaigns all they want, but can only ask their parties, sometimes firmly, what to do. Each party's political committees, however, ultimately make their own decisions; a situation totally different from the collegial atmosphere of the Senate, which generally rewards pragmatic overtures and polite entreaties.

More glaringly, the Herald editorial board demonstrats zero understanding the blogosphere, which campaigns know full well are an untamable creature. Trying to lump Stefan and Sound Politics into the "party apparatus" over which McGavick has some sort of influence would be laughable were it not so monumentally ignorant.

Yet somehow, a party press release and the work of one blogger with which the Herald happens to disagree, and over which McGavick has no control, are enough to impugn McGavick's own consistent campaign efforts? Where is the logic in that?

I can respect the judgment the Herald made on policy issues, and can respect their endorsement choice, despite my disagreement. But on matters of observation and analysis of the political world, they come across as rank idiots. I've long held our body politic in Washington State is exceptionally squeamish of true hardball politics like those practiced in other parts of the country. The Tri-City Herald nearly owes McGavick an apology for its inexcusable demonstration of that lesson, and its besmirching of his lengthy and costly efforts to keep his campaign civil.

Posted by Eric Earling at October 20, 2006 08:37 PM | Email This
Comments
1. I expect that a lot of people in Eastern Washington who might have read this post are thinking: there's just another guy over near Seattle who thinks he's smarter than us. They'd be right. It happens all the time.

The people who wrote the editorial at the Tri-City Herald have surely not "missed the modern era." Nor do they have "zero understanding of the blogosphere." But it won't be surprising for them to read that some upstart west of the mountains thinks these things and says they are "monumentally ignorant" and look like "rank idiots."

I think you'll find that the Herald's editorial board is one of the most experienced and politically savvy in the state. They endorsed Slade six years ago. They endorsed Doc Hastings. They did not endorse McGavick.

I was surprised. I bet McGavick was too.

Posted by: thor on October 20, 2006 10:11 PM
2. Damn,

How can they have missed the pure hatred over at Horsesass.org that has been leveled at McGavick for several months now?

I have a problem with Cantwell sleeping with a lobbyist that she brought home ear marked dollars for and who owes her money for years and can't remember what the loan was for.

There is something crooked, sleazy, and underhanded about her relationship with Ron Dotzauer.

Posted by: sgmmac on October 20, 2006 10:46 PM
3. Thor,

I guess some rank idiots kidnapped the Herald's editorial board and penned the above.

Posted by: ap on October 20, 2006 11:10 PM
4. After all, their endorsement of Kerry sure helped him in the Tri Cities.

Posted by: Alcon Nighthawk on October 21, 2006 12:27 AM
5. Surrogate attacks on CANTWELL? Have they SEEN the phonied-up lawsuit against McGavick for purely political democrat parisan reasons?? What are they talking about??? All I see is hatred heaped upon anything that has an R after its name. The democrats have only hatred to sell--the proof is now that they talk about murdering the president--which is where hatred leads in its extreme end.

These people must be looking at a different senatorial campaign than i'm seeing. Because all i'm seeing is attacks on McGavick and a completel cover-over for Cantwell, even though she is mixing her love life with my tax dollars and her lobbyist boyfriend. That is relevant. But this newspaper probably won't even talk about that.

Posted by: Michele on October 21, 2006 12:31 AM
6. candidate endorsements from newspapers are about as useful as bridal magazines in the SF Castro District.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on October 21, 2006 03:27 AM
7. Thor - if you think an editorial board believing that the blogosphere is part of a party apparatus over which a candidate can claim to have some inflence makes them "politically savy" then you are a bigger troll then some here have accused you of being. And for the record, I'm happy to flay any paper, on either side of the mountains, that makes such a glaring error.

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 21, 2006 09:10 AM
8. One can hardly blame the Tri City Herald, they are merely following the state law that states it is illegal for any main stream news outlet to ever criticize a woman Democrat official. They are also up to speed on Joel Connelly's dictum that the party that invented negative campaigning and exclusively uses it to this day is the Republican Party. And we all know that Stefan is paid $8k a month by McGavick just like that extremely important campaign aide for Carpetbagggingwell - whose hire had NOTHING to do with maybe running against her in the primary.....

Posted by: Cliff on October 21, 2006 10:05 AM
9. Nice reply Eric.

Mike McGavick must think he has some influence over the NRSC - he criticized the ad the NRSC is still running on its webs site and its e-mail distribution of Sound Politics divorce story after it happened. But in the NYT:

"Despite McGavick's own criticisms of the video -- "Maria Cantwell And Ron Dotzauer: Making Music Since 1983" -- as over the top, McGavick did not disagree with its theme."

What does "Making Music" mean?

The Herald made no mention of the "blogosphere." It was simply refering to what is still on the NRSC web site along with the hay made in other places on the internet from it.

I think the savvy people at the Tri-City Herald understand more about this situation than you do. I think they see another candidate who is trying to have it both ways. And I think they're right about that.

Posted by: thor on October 21, 2006 11:35 AM
10. Thor - you read to much between the lines. The theme of the NRSC video was that Maria and Ron have an odd financial relationship. The video only alludes to their personal affairs. In addition, their editorial is clearly whining about the implication of the video, not it's core theme.

Also, you claim they never mention the blogosphere, but what on God's green earth is this supposed to refer to:

"Yet McGavick can't completely disassociate himself from some of his party's particularly offensive attempts to slander Cantwell's personal life, rummaging through someone else's divorce papers."

Thor, who has investigated Dotzauer's divorce papers, Stefan or the party? These are two totally different entities, a fact lost on the editorial board, even though their own paper's political blog reported on the issue. Moreover, that post clearly spells out McGavick's objection to the use of the topic.

McGavick's been pretty clear about the theme of his campaign. You should stop trying to read so much into what he's saying. Let alone the fact the video itself is so far away from true hard hitting ads that the Herald's strenuous objection to it is laughable.

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 21, 2006 12:37 PM
11. The Seattle Times just endorsed McGavick thor.
What happened?
Read it tomorrow.

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on October 21, 2006 01:41 PM
12. Wow. I had no clue about all the undercurrents, subtleties, and misconceptions of the Herald. It couldn't have been because McGavick comes off smug or doesn't impress the editorial board. I guess Tri-Citians are just simple folks. I'm glad Western Washington doesn't give a rip what goes on over here.

Posted by: Matty on October 21, 2006 02:14 PM
13. Eric.

You forget that the NRSC took the gutter report on Sound Politics and distributed it. That's the party aparatus condoning through divorce files, even if they didn't do the digging - and it wasn't even Cantwell's divorce. And if the NRSC spot meant to report on the financial relationship maybe they should have used the term "money" and not "music."

Whatever. It doesn't matter. I just don't think attacks on the very solid people at the TC Herald that include name calling and unfounded attacks on their intelligence should go unanswered and be taken taken to reflect views of people in Western Washington.

They're your views. Fine. I disagree. I thought it was a pretty good editorial. And I was surprised the paper endorsed Cantwell.

Posted by: thor on October 21, 2006 05:21 PM
14. thor - the fact remains regardless of what one thinks of the NRSC's web video and press releases, their role in this campaign is minimal. no TV ads, no mail, nothing to the general populace. if you think that is "gutter politics" then your understanding of politics over the course of our nation's history is really not good. we've been having at each other with heavy rhetoric since the Founding Fathers. heck, some of the Founders were much harsher in using personal attacks than what you could get away with these days.

if the Herald is going to get bent out of shape about what the NRSC did, how in the hell would they handle the harsher attacks ads that are commonplace in competitive races around the country (even here in the Reichert v. Burner race which is getting pretty testy)? in short, even before one gets to their confusion about what does and does not constitute a party apparatus, which no candidate can control anyway, their conceptualization of what constitutes a negative campaign by a candidate is ridiculous.

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 21, 2006 06:55 PM
15. LOL... McGavick's "Clean campaign" goes something like this, "I'm a nice guy running a clean campaign, not like that SOB Cantwell."

As for that NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) video: campaigns (on both sides) OK those sorts of things before they go out. If McGavick really wanted a clean campaign he would have said not to run it.

So to recap: Mike! is a lying shit-weasel.

Posted by: me on October 21, 2006 10:56 PM
16. Me -

"As for that NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) video: campaigns (on both sides) OK those sorts of things before they go out."

Your comment doesn't pass the laugh test, or the reality test for that matter.

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 21, 2006 11:00 PM
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