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Friday, July 18, 2008

Good Point

posted by on July 18 at 8:40 AM

Postman talks a bit about the Seattle Times’ handling of the Doug Sutherland “inappropriate touching” story, and then gets into the not-so-way-back machine to point out a bit of Democratic hypocrisy on this issue:

The documents were provided to The Times, the PI, horsesass and apparently others, by backers of Peter Goldmark, the Democrat running against Sutherland. The reason is obvious: They hope that the story will stain Sutherland’s reputation enough that Goldmark can unseat him after two terms as lands commissioner.

Democrats were quick to try to leverage the horsesass post to help Goldmark. Party spokesman Kelly Steele said in a press release:

These documents speak for themselves, and the facts as presented strongly suggest Republican Doug Sutherland has compromised the public trust, and owes Washingtonians an explanation for his abhorrent behavior.

There’s no doubt the Sutherland story deserved a place in the newspaper. But the Democrats have established a double standard for this behavior that rises above run of the mill campaign hypocrisy.

This is the same Democratic Party that in 2000 financed former Gov. Mike Lowry’s run against Sutherland. Lowry served one term as governor and left without running for re-election after a sexual harassment scandal.

Lowry agreed to pay $97,500 to a former press aide, who left her job after what she said was inappropriate touching and comments from Lowry. Two former Lowry aides from his years in Congress also came forward and talked to an investigator about their own experiences. The scandal began after a female State Patrol employee said Lowry inappropriately touched her…

I’ll be interested to see how the party, Goldmark and his backers continue to use this new Sutherland case as a disqualifier for high office. If this is to be a part of the campaign for lands commissioner, Democrats should explain to voters the sliding scale of abhorrent behavior.

To be clear, I don’t think that “Hey, Mike Lowry did it, too!” is going to be a winning rejoinder for Republicans in this whole debacle. But Postman makes a good point in saying that the burden is on Democrats to explain whether there’s some sort of difference between the two cases, and why one case should be a disqualifier for holding the Lands Commissioner post and the other… not so much.

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uh, this doesn't make any sense to me. lowery paid a hefty fine and is no longer in office as a direct result of his conduct. sutherland is still the lands commissioner. by the sound of it the democratic party financed lowery's campaign before he was scandalized. where exactly is the hypocrisy?

Posted by douglas | July 18, 2008 8:56 AM

pardon me if i'm missing something here, but is it really hypocrisy if the democrats' support of lowry ended upon the revelation of the sexual harassment scandal?

Posted by ellarosa | July 18, 2008 8:56 AM

@1 and 2: You have the chronology backwards. Lowry's sexual harassment scandal preceded the Democrats supporting his run for Lands Commissioner.

Posted by Eli Sanders | July 18, 2008 8:59 AM

Could you not write the exact same story in reverse?

Posted by Giffy | July 18, 2008 9:02 AM

ah, i see. the wording on the post is a bit confusing.

Posted by douglas | July 18, 2008 9:02 AM

Yes, yes. Harassment. What about the rape of Maury Island?

Posted by Voting public | July 18, 2008 9:07 AM

So when these two ancient perverts talk about "restoring old growth" are they talk about trees or their genitals?

Posted by DOUG. | July 18, 2008 9:18 AM

I don't think it's a matter of the political parties deciding whether a sex scandal disqualifies a candidate from office or not, but rather the voters deciding that it does. If in fact Lowery lost because of his sex scandal, meaning the voters found that it disqualified him from office, then I think it's completely fair to point out, to the voters, that Sutherland should also be disqualified, for the same reason.

Posted by Kish | July 18, 2008 9:21 AM

So, Sutherland's going to pay a hundred grand? Or is he going to say "I was being too informal" again?

Note that there's also a difference between being forced out of office and trying to come back in a different job a decade later, like Lowry, and never leaving at all.

Posted by Fnarf | July 18, 2008 9:28 AM

Wasn't a similar argument made against Bill Clinton's fitness to lead? In fact, wasn't that argument made again and again ad nauseum for decades on end?

Posted by flamingbanjo | July 18, 2008 9:33 AM

Kish @8 has it exactly right. I was working on another Democratic campaign in 2000, sharing office space with a Lowry worker. I remember quite clearly that Lowry's run was something of a desperate ploy to get a Democrat in the race after the incumbent, Democrat Jennifer Belcher, decided late in the game not to run again (she was a fantastic 2-term Lands Commissioner but had some serious health issues come up in her family that caused her to step down).

But Lowry's campaign never really got off the ground almost entirely because of his history of sexual harassment. His run was immediately controversial in the news media, his fundraising was anemic and few people were interested in working or volunteering for his campaign. I don't remember if Sutherland or the Republicans made a big issue of Lowry's pattern of sexual harassment, but they didn't really need to. Lowry lost big in a year when Gary Locke was re-elected with 60% of the vote, Cantwell beat Slade Gorton and Al Gore won the state big.

Political insiders, the media and voters all rejected Lowry and probably deservedly so. It certainly seems fair for Sutherland to receive at least proportionally the same treatment as Lowry in 2000. I say proportionally because, I guess, there's no evidence that Sutherland has done this sort of thing more than once, but geez isn't doing this kind of thing even once pretty bad?

Posted by Bill LaBorde | July 18, 2008 9:47 AM

Oh My God--you mean that opposing parties sometimes "feed" begative info to the press?

That's shocking. And worse--they only do it agaisnt their opponents.


Also hypocritical: half the time the media makes a big deal about the misconduct without talking about who fed it to them, and half the time they don't. Here, since the misconduct is admitted, they should be praising the Democratic Party for pushing this story around.

How can they say it's news, then turn around and criticize the Party for helping to make

"Political Party Acted Politically"
is news? Is wrong?
Very smug 'n' smarmy media nannies, yuk.

Posted by PC | July 18, 2008 9:54 AM

Yeah. The difference is that Lowry already faced some punishment for his offenses - nearly $100,000 and the loss of his job as governor. What kind of payment has Sutherland made other than an apology and some sensitivity training?

Posted by Greg | July 18, 2008 10:00 AM

Sutherland did not apologize. He said some words that sounded like an apology, but they were an apology for an entirely different offense than the one he committed. He apologized for being too informal. He wasn't informal; he committed the crime of sexual harassment in the workplace. HE HASN'T APOLOGIZED FOR THAT. He hasn't even acknowledged that it occurred. He's a lying, groping piece of shit and he deserves to be taken down. Like Mike Lowry was.

This is so classically Republican it's not even funny. It's never their fault, it's always something else. REPUBLICANS CAN'T TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS. Whereas Democrats are insanely eager to eat their own.

Posted by Fnarf | July 18, 2008 10:43 AM

@10, re: Clinton,

Yes, this argument was made, and the voters decided, and decided again, and continued to express through his approval rating, that they were willing to look past it for other reasons. Did anyone say that l'affaire Lewinsky was good, or right? No.

(It took Clinton crossing Obama to sully his standing with D voters. Clearly he should have slept with Obama.)

Posted by zxcvb | July 18, 2008 10:49 AM

Double standard?

Um, has he actually been paying attention to the actual scandals? It's something like 10:1 GOP:Dem pervs out there, even though it's closer to 55:45 seated incumbents as a pool to draw from ...

Note to News Organisations: Just because you slacked off doesn't give you an excuse not to do your JOB.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 18, 2008 11:30 AM

I guess it's too much to expect the Democratic Party to take a stand and say they will no longer support candidates who have committed sexual harassment in the past? Or not until they go through some type of behavior modification course?

I don't know if one documented instance of harassment is enough for someone to be attacked with in a campaign, but I'm with Fnarf @14. Sutherland doesn't fucking get it, and that is the scariest part to me.

Sexual harassment is a crime against another person. It's a worse offense to voters than doing drugs, queer sex in bathrooms or sex with hookers in my book.

Posted by asteria | July 18, 2008 12:08 PM

What about the hypocrisy of the main stream media? They were all over Lowry but seem to want to give Sutherland a pass. They should get their own house in order before calling hypocrisy on the dems.

Posted by Don't you think he looks tired | July 18, 2008 5:07 PM

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