Oh man, it’s been a brutal media day for the candidates at the top of WA’s Republican ticket. But while the shiny-haired Dave Reichert is only getting his
tires ass kicked in the local press (more on that later,) US Senate wannabe Mike?™ McGavick’s well-deserved beating is taking place on a national stage.
McGavick was absolutely savaged in the Washington Post this morning, subjected to the kind of blunt analysis and verbal thrashing only the deliciously acerbic Michael Kinsley can deliver:
If you knew nothing about Mike McGavick except what is in his TV commercials and on his Web site, you would conclude either that he is a moron or that he thinks you are a moron.
Hmm. I’m betting on the latter.
Kinsley deconstructs the McGavick campaign with devastating efficiency, highlighting the inane absurdities and “fog of generality” through which the candidate has chosen to present himself to voters. McGavick accuses Sen. Maria Cantwell of “following party over state interests.” To which Kinsley asks the obvious:
Why would she do that? Why would she put her party’s interests over those of her constituents? Who cares enough about either party to actually put their own political futures in peril? Answer: no one. Taken literally, the charge is absurd. But it’s not meant to be taken literally. It is just part of the miasma of themes and images that political professionals create around candidates. Cantwell is popular, partisanship is not. So blame partisanship and not Cantwell. Be for “families.” Be for “change.” Be against “Washington, D.C.” and “lobbyists.”
In a radio spot this week called “Not Paying Attention,” McGavick says, “Folks in Washington, D.C., you know they must not think we are paying attention” to “some of the things they are getting away with.” In a rare particular, he blames “automatic pay raises” for creating bad incentives for members of Congress. “We’ve got to have change,” he says, “but the only way to do that is to change who represents us.”
Maria Cantwell hit it big in the dot-com boom and is a very rich woman. She has spent tens of millions of dollars on her election and reelection campaigns. Whatever her flaws, she cannot possibly care about a pay raise. Taken literally, the notion that any national politician assumes that the voters and media and opposition party are “not paying attention” is equally ridiculous. So what is her motivation? What is McGavick’s, for that matter? (He’s rich, too, having struck gold in just a few years in the insurance business.)
Following up on McGavick’s charges, Kinsley logically asks, “Is Cantwell devoting her life to betraying the families of Washington just for the fun it?”
McGavick has no explanation, except to say that “this stuff is nuts,” that it is “partisan nonsense” and so on. But Maria Cantwell is not nuts. “Nuts” is not a plausible explanation. And without any specifics or a plausible explanation, McGavick’s complaints are exceptionally empty.
Knowing virtually nothing about McGavick, I saw one of his 30-second spots last week and took an instant, personal and possibly unfair dislike to him. And I wonder why everyone doesn’t have the same reaction to these patronizing, insulting commercials. Maybe some do — McGavick is going to lose, apparently — but more must be turned on than are turned off, because McGavick is not nuts either.
Of course we all know why McGavick hides himself behind a fog of generalities — because if he actually ran on the issues, he’d surely lose. This has never been more clear than in his recent spat with the Seattle Times’ David Postman over a months-old post about McGavick’s stance on social security privatization. McGavick didn’t dispute Postman’s reporting at the time. In fact, he even cited it from his own campaign website. Only after Democrats started citing the post did McGavick claim that Postman got it wrong.
As it turns out, Postman’s interview was somewhat prompted by a contest on Talking Points Memo seeking to get a straight answer from McGavick on whether he did or did not support phasing out Social Security and replacing it with private accounts. So it’s no surprise that TPM’s Josh Marshall chose to weigh in on the current dispute:
And now he says Cantwell has to take down her ad because it doesn’t reflect his true position. At least after changing it for the tenth time. Can anyone take this dude even remotely seriously? And how am I supposed to run Social Security contests with any sense of predictability or finality when we’ve got serial bamboozlers like Mike McGavick out there constantly changing their positions?
I need Regis here to give McGavick one of those, “Is that your final answer?” lines.
(ed.note: In private McGavick is known for supporting hardline privatization of Social Security. He just fibs about his position in public.)
Late Update: Maybe give a holler to the Postman guy at the Seattle Times and thank him for braving the hot swamps of McGavick’s bamboozlement.
Hey… thanks Dave.
And thanks Mike, for transforming a Senate race widely touted as the Republicans best shot at unseating an incumbent Democrat… into a national joke. No wonder McGavick recently traveled to a big DC fundraiser only to come back empty handed.