Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, twitter.com/lounews or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please remember at all times to wear your protective gear.
Hey, it’s the political season! If it were a sport, we ain’t talkin’ about table tennis, baby.
If it were a dance tune, some folks think it resembles “Twist and Shout.”
Me? It feels more like “The Nutcracker Suite.”
And I love it all!
Either way, the warning is still the warning. Protect yourself. It’s gettin’ hot in here.
• • •
County commissioner candidate David Madore created a little heat for himself when he put out the mother of all political ads.
Everyone knows how we hate those rising government budgets. Me, too! Crazy spending, no regard for the tax dollar, out-of-control benefits and pensions. Let’s throw the bums out.
Madore figured he found the sweet spot when he said the incumbent — Marc Boldt — had doubled the county budget.
Game over, right? The king is dead. Long live the king. No incumbent could survive that reality.
Oh, wait. One small problem. It isn’t true. Yikes!!!
To Madore’s credit, when Columbian reporter Stephanie Rice called him on it, he pretty quickly admitted it was a mistake and apologized. Still, how do you make a huge mistake like this? I pressed Madore for an answer. And somewhat surprising to me, he didn’t have one. He simply said it was a “mystery.”
A “mystery” is defined as something that is difficult or impossible to explain.
A county commissioner certainly will be confronted with complicated issues. Would we want a commissioner to say “that issue’s a mystery to me”?
I e-mailed Madore back:
“If you were to apply the standards I suspect you would apply to your business — and something that big goes wrong — I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t leave it as ‘It’s a mystery.’ You’d dig in and find out how it happened.”
Now, don’t be fooled by this gaffe. Madore is a very strong candidate and, I believe, has a very good chance of winning this thing. He’s bright, and has a strong business background and a bunch of money — mostly his own — with which to run a professional campaign.
He is a polarizing figure, but so what? Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are polarizing figures. And I like the guy. I don’t find him kooky — as some do. I find him sincere.
Now, Madore doesn’t need me to say nice things about him. He has ardent supporters.
Take Josephine Wentzel. Madore backed her when she ran and lost a bid for the Vancouver City Council. And she’s an, ah, interesting person to have your back. For sure, she is one duro biscotto. If you tangle with her, you do so at your own peril. (She’s my buddy.)
So when we did the story on Madore’s ad mistake, Wentzel rushed to his defense on our website.
Essentially, Wentzel said:
Hey, my guy screwed up but the other guy screwed up and you should treat these screw-ups equally.
(I’d like to pause this column for a moment for a lesson — a trick, if you will — on how bloggers and commenters defend an indefensible position. When the facts are against you, deflect the conversation away from those facts. Blame the media for not beating up the other guy the same way their guy is getting beat up. Now, back to your regularly scheduled column.)
And what was Wentzel talking about? Well, Boldt had his own moment in an ad, as well. He was sort of bragging about how he’s kept the county budget at under 1 percent increases.
That’s the current law, my friend. It took no special effort on Boldt’s part. Claiming this is unbecoming. Now, we reported this, as well, but for Wentzel and others, Madore’s mistake was played more prominently. And they didn’t like that.
But remember, some commenters and bloggers aren’t interested in common sense or logic. When they move into protective mode, they simply shoot from the hip. If common sense were used, not all goofs are created equal. Just like not all crimes are created equal. And you simply can’t compare the Madore and Boldt goofs as being equal.
Again, most bloggers and commenters are supporting a candidate, so they will twist stuff up to make their guy look good. Nothing wrong with that. It’s what they do. But The Columbian doesn’t have a dog in this fight. We’re equal opportunity critics. My conservative friends should ask my liberal friends, state Rep. Jim Moeller and county Commissioner Steve Stuart, about this. Everyone thinks we’re on the other side. How can that be? Well, it is. I chalk it up to silly talk.
• • •
And the silly talk really gets cranked up during the political season. Hey, don’t try to ignore it. Don’t try to resist it. Don’t try to fight it. Just wear that protective gear.