This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.
Every high-stakes political campaign is built on a certain amount of hyperbole.
Politicians are never as perfect – nor their opponents as flawed – as the caricatures crafted to win elections.
But license to exaggerate isn’t permission to spin attacks out of thin air. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray would do well to keep that in mind. Two of her recent attacks on Republican challenger Dino Rossi are contortions worthy of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat.
Last month, hours after Murray and Rossi appeared together before The News Tribune editorial board, Murray concocted the yarn that Rossi had outed himself as a Boeing foe. “Rossi Says France Should Have Unfair Advantage in Building Tanker for America’s Military,” blared her press release about the meeting.
What Rossi actually said – in response to the question of whether World Trade Organization rulings on illegal subsidies to Boeing and European rival Airbus should be considered in awarding a contract for Air Force aerial refueling tankers – was “No, not as far as I’m concerned, no.”
Rossi later clarified, saying he meant that Boeing shouldn’t be faulted for the help it’s received from the U.S. government. He’s all for dinging Airbus for the subsidies it received from European governments, Rossi assured reporters.
At most, Rossi betrayed himself as unprepared to address what has become a significant Washington issue. But a secret ringer for Airbus? No way.
That hasn’t stopped Murray. She’s gone from mischaracterizing Rossi’s answer to mischaracterizing the question. A recent television ad says Rossi “was asked if Boeing workers should have a level playing field.”
Wrong again. No editorial board member pitched Rossi such a softball question.
On Wednesday, Murray’s campaign struck again, twisting Rossi’s comments to a talk radio host to the point of absurdity.
“In an offensive and bald attempt to continue to smear his way to victory, 18-year politician Dino Rossi this morning insulted millions of Americans troops and others who serve their country,” Murray’s press release reads. “Speaking on the Laura Ingraham show, Dino stated plainly that he thinks their service to their country is meaningless.”
Here’s what Rossi actually said when asked about the business background of the White House staff:
“Well, you have a bunch of people that are in charge that have never actually had a private sector job, and a meaningful one, in their adult lives.”
Murray’s attempts to put words in Rossi’s mouth are all the more disappointing because they aren’t necessary. They are the stuff of third-party attacks financed by special interests, not an 18-year senator who has a strong record and an opponent with actual, not imagined, positions to debate.
Murray should knock it off.