Yesterday I suggested that Tim Eyman’s reputation as a lying, thieving, blowhard actually works to his advantage, as the media seems to treat his lack of credibility as an unspoken assumption. I suppose they think it a waste of time to research his claims, when nobody believes him anyway.
This is part of a larger double standard, where the “good guys” are expected to be good, and the “bad guys” are expected to be bad. And if the two sides ever stray from their assigned roles, it results in shock and dismay, or unwarranted praise.
An example of this has stuck in my craw the past few days, so I thought I’d better spit it out:
In Sunday’s TNT, Peter Callaghan excoriated the Muckleshoot Tribe for funding a mailing that called I-892 “the most massive gambling expansion in Washington history,” and warned voters of the social costs of the accompanying growth in problem gambling. [Wait a second, opposition to gambling from a casino?]
“The tone of the mailing suggests it must have come from anti-gambling zealots,” Mr. Callaghan writes. “Some Lutheran ministers perhaps, or the problem-gambling council.”
He then dramatically reveals it was funded by (gasp) the Muckleshoots, operators of one of the biggest casinos in the state. “Voters might see through the hypocrisy,” Mr. Callaghan opines, “but the mailing doesn’t say ‘Muckleshoots’ anywhere on it.”
He’s shocked… shocked… that there’s tribal gambling money behind the “No on I-892” campaign!
Well, I can’t vouch for Tacoma, Peter, but the rest of us live in the real world, where the bulk of political contributions are given for purely selfish reasons. (Or perhaps the $200 million President Bush has raised thus far stems from passionate support for the Preemption Doctrine?)
Of course the tribes will bankroll the campaign to defeat I-892: they have the most to lose by it’s passage. I’m sure families victimized by problem gambling would contribute too… if they had any money.
Yes, it would have been more honest to print “Paid for by Tribal Casinos Protecting Their Own Selfish Business Interests” on the bottom of each flyer. But from a marketing perspective, that would have been incredibly stupid.
Besides, why should the Muckleshoots be held to a higher standard than, say, shopping mall uber-developer Kemper Freeman Jr., who is personally funding I-883 (the state builds more roads so he can build more malls) while hiding behind the “Let’s Get Washington Moving” PAC, a name so perky it sounds like a track from an Up With America album?
Or how about last year’s blatantly self-serving I-841, which prohibited the state from enacting ergonomic rules? I didn’t see any editorialist’s eyebrows raised when the Building Industry Association of Washington fronted their anti-labor effort through the Orwellian-named PAC “Workers Against Job-Killing Rules.” (In fairness, the TNT was the one newspaper that mentioned this charade on its op-ed page… in a guest column by me.)
So how is the Muckleshoots funding of the plainly named “No on I-892” PAC more hypocritical than the non-tribal gambling industry hiding behind Tim Eyman’s “Just Treat Us the Same” PAC? (A name that would qualify as a rhetorical non sequitur if not for its subtly racist appeal.)
While Eyman’s paid signature gatherers are out telling voters the initiative is about cutting taxes, or making tribal casinos pay their fare share, or helping mom-and-pop businesses compete, (lies, all,) the campaign is largely backed by out-of-state gambling conglomerates. In fact, the largest donation ($50,000) comes from a Canadian corporation!
But then, Tim Eyman is a lying, thieving, blowhard… so the I-892 campaign’s hypocrisy is hardly news, is it Peter?
I-892 is about gambling. It is a battle between a multi-billion dollar industry and a multi-billion dollar industry. And while it is certainly ironic to see the Muckleshoots spending their profits to trash their own business, it is no more hypocritical or deceptive than the non-tribal gambling industry pawning off slot machines as a tax cut.
Indeed, the real irony would have been if the anti-slot flyer had in fact been financed by the “problem-gambling council” as Mr. Callaghan’s sense of probity apparently demands:
The Washington State Council on Problem Gambling is largely funded by the same corporations bankrolling Eyman’s I-892. So I’m guessing the “No” campaign is not going to get much support there.
Perhaps those Lutheran ministers have some spare change?