Those who have criticized my relentless attacks on Susan Hutchison as a Bible-thumpin’, evolution-denyin’, partisan right-wing Republican, have generally missed the point.
I do not argue that any of her beliefs or affiliations, however extreme, should disqualify Hutchison from holding public office. “No religious test shall ever be required…” and all that. That’s a good thing.
I just insist that Hutchison be honest about it, and barring that, that the press hold her accountable.
Take for example the video above, in which I compare and contrast Hutchison’s effort to minimize her contribution to Mike Huckabee, with her obvious infatuation with the most prominently Evangelical of the 2008 presidential candidates. When asked about her $500 contribution to Huckabee during a KCTS debate, Hutchison could’ve just said that she supported his candidacy, and explained the reasons why. But she didn’t.
Instead, she attempted to explain it away:
Well, when I was a journalist, as you know, we don’t contribute to political campaigns. And so when I ended my career, I started to respond to all of those messages that we got in the mail, or phone calls.
And one of them was from a friend of mine who said, “Let’s go hear Mike Huckabee speak… he’s a popular governor from Arkansas,” and at that point nobody had really heard much about him. And she said “He’s got innovative ideas.” And this friend of mine has done a lot of politicking, and so I said, “Okay, I’ll go with you to that lunch,” and I wrote the check. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the lunch, and so, that is the extent of my check writing for Mike Huckabee.
To anybody who watched the KCTS debate, the impression she gave was clear. 1) Journalists “don’t contribute to political campaigns,” so Hutchison was new to the world of partisan politics. 2) Like most everyone else, she hadn’t heard much about Huckabee at the time. And 3) she wrote the check merely at the request of a friend who spoke highly of Huckabee, and invited her to hear him speak. When Hutchison says “that is the extent of my checking writing for Mike Huckabee,” she clearly intends to leave the impression that this was the extent of her involvement with Huckabee as well.
But all three of these impressions simply aren’t true.
First of all, KIRO-TV ended Hutchison’s “journalism” career way back in 2002, while the Huckabee luncheon wasn’t until November 15, 2007. That’s a full five years of responding to all those messages and phone calls, so she couldn’t possibly have been the partisan political novice she makes herself out to be at the time.
In fact, according to PDC and FEC reports, Hutchison started giving to political campaigns as early as September of 2003, with a $500 contribution toward the reelection of President George W. Bush; by 2005, she had become a regular contributor to Republican candidates and causes. Indeed, by the time Hutchison wrote her $500 check to Huckabee, she had already written 23 checks totaling $12,500, to 16 different campaigns and committees… Republican all.
So the image of Hutchison as a naive check-writing newbie? That’s misimpression number one, especially considering her entire career since leaving KIRO had been writing checks on behalf of billionaire Charles Simonyi.
As for the impression Hutchison leaves that she didn’t know much about Huckabee at the time, well the video clips above speak for themselves, but here’s the timeline. The Huckabee luncheon was on Nov. 15, 2007, and her check is recorded on Nov. 19. Yet on Sept. 27, 2007, nearly two months earlier, Hutchison can be seen lauding Huckabee before a packed house at the conservative Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner, an event she’s been emceeing for years:
“As you know, if you’ve been here before, our speakers inform, inspire and predict the future. Anyone who was here last year is not surprised that Mike Huckabee is performing well in the presidential race for the Republican primary.”
Hutchison is talking about the 2006 annual dinner, at which Mike Huckabee was the featured speaker, and she, as usual, was the master of ceremonies. So… even though she implies that she didn’t know much about Huckabee in November of 2007 at the time she wrote him a $500.00 check, she had in fact personally met the man, and had been “informed and inspired” by him, a full year earlier, in 2006… a speech she fondly recalled in September of 2007 at the following year’s dinner.
That’s just plain deceptive.
And finally, that politically involved friend Hutchison refers to… the one who invited her to hear Huckabee speak, and who allegedly gushed about his “innovative ideas”…? That was almost surely Sarah Rindlaub, “one of Hutchison’s closest political allies,” a Washington Policy Center board member.
And the lunch itself? An Evangelicals for Huckabee endorsement event, sponsored by Joe Fuiten and twenty other conservative pastors.
Again, Hutchison has the right to associate with and contribute to anybody she wants, but the public has just as much a right to know about it. And therein lies my biggest complaint with the way Hutchison has run her campaign, and the way the press has covered it.
Knowing the facts, anybody watching Hutchison’s efforts to minimize her support for Huckabee simply wouldn’t find her credible. Yet most voters don’t know the facts, and for that I hold our local media complicit.
TVW is playing its games again, filing takedown notices with YouTube for what clearly amounts to fair use. So I’ve reposted via Vimeo. So there.
TVW has apparently had my video pulled from Vimeo, so I’ve replaced the embed with one from LiveLeak. I’m willing to play this game as long as they are.