Over on Slog, Eli Sanders has been holding Rep. Dave Reichert’s feet to the fire (here and here) over the congressman’s flexuous ramblings on the subject of global warming. First “Doubting Dave” told the Seattle Times that he questions the existence of global warming:
“The problem is, you have some scientists who say it’s happening, and some who say it’s not happening. The problem is the Sierra Club says that every scientist says it is,” said Reichert, a member of the House Science Committee.
“I’m going to wait until all the facts are in. There were many scientists who used to say the world was flat.”
Um, actually, scientists never said the world was flat. Only anti-scientific, religious nutcases did. But I digress.
Reichert said global warming is a “possibility” but views the science with the same sense of skepticism he held as a homicide detective for the King County Sheriff’s Office.
“I will be convinced when I’m convinced,” he said. “As an investigator, I’ve not been conclusively convinced.”
Uh-huh. Just like the skepticism Reichert showed when he had the Green River Killer in custody, but let him go, only to nab him again a decade or so later when the Sheriff was “conclusively convinced” by the DNA evidence.
But wait… I’m not being fair to Reichert, because according to his folks, the papers got it all wrong! In fact, the papers got it so wrong that “Reichert campaign spokeswoman” Kimberly Cadena actually called up Sanders to ask for an interview, so she could set the record straight, informing Sanders that he read something into the Times piece that simply wasn’t there:
Reichert has never questioned the existence of global warming. […] He continues to investigate the cause of global warming. Global warming exists. That’s the reality.
That’s right, and I’m sure Reichert will eventually finger the perpetrator, oh, saaaaay, sometime around the year 2024… or maybe not until the Cascade snowpack runs dry and the Southcenter Mall lies under six feet of water?
Look, we all know that Reichert’s not the brightest bulb in the GOP caucus (and from recent events, that’s saying something) so we expect him to say stupid things he doesn’t really mean… to say in public. But if I was Sanders I’d be little insulted by Cadena, who clearly doesn’t respect him as a reporter. What… did she think? Sanders would just accept that explanation and print a retraction? No, he did exactly what you’d expect a self-respecting journalist to do… he asked Times reporter Jonathan Martin to clarify exactly what he asked the congressman, and exactly what the congressman answered. Martin said he asked a two-part question: does Reichert believe global warming exists, and if so, what does he believe is causing it?
I tried to be as clear as possible in asking the question in a two-part way. It’s possible he may have misunderstood the essence of my questions, but I went back on the issue with him at least twice during our interview. His position on global warming was crystal clear to me. He just hadn’t been convinced of its existence. I think that’s what the article says. […] He said the existence of global warming, and human’s role in it, was a possibility, but that he hadn’t seen conclusive evidence to satisfy him on either of the questions.
Hmm. Not really a position you want to take in such an environmentally conscious district like the 8th. Which I suppose is why Reichert staffers stopped letting him speak on the issue, instead sending in Cadena to do damage control. What this tells me is that Reichert’s folks don’t have much faith in their candidate’s ability to accurately explicate his own stance on the issue. (Or perhaps, maybe they’re afraid he will.) You know… they think he’s stupid. Or wrong. Or both.
But the Times’ David Postman is more charitable. He gives the campaign brownie points for aggressively pursuing this:
Good on Cadena, too, for making the effort with Sanders. The Stranger isn’t necessarily a friendly place for Reichert, and others might not have bothered.
Hmm. Only thing is, there’s something that both Postman and Sanders have missed. Cadena isn’t Reichert’s campaign spokesperson. She’s his Congressional office press secretary. (At least she was a couple of days ago.) And to have an office staffer doing campaign work like this is a real ethical and legal no-no.
And while I suppose it’s possible that by the time Cadena contacted Sanders she had taken a leave from the office and officially joined the campaign, that doesn’t excuse the press release she posted to Reichert’s congressional website “in response to media reports.”
To me, that’s a pretty damn clear use of a government website for campaign purposes. Though if I’ve got it wrong, I invite Cadena to give me a call and clear things up.
In the comment thread, Cadena clarifies:
I’m pleased to clarify, David. I took a leave of absence from Congressman Reichert’s congressional office beginning on Saturday, September 30th. As of Tuesday, October 3rd, I officially assumed the role of campaign spokesperson on Congressman Reichert’s reelection campaign. The press was notified of the change. I hope that clarifies any question you had, David.
Spokesperson for the Reelect Dave Reichert Campaign
Thanks for being such an avid reader, Cadena. I suppose I should have asked her directly, but the campaign has been so unresponsive to my queries in the past that thought didn’t even occur to me. And like I said, it still doesn’t explain the press release.
And by the way, when campaigns shake up their staff just five weeks before an election, it’s usually an indicator that they’re a little nervous. I’m just saying.