Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Darcy Burner and Her Thugs "Debate"

Just a disclaimer - remember, the Federalist Society doesn't endorse candidates. These opinions are my own.

Last night's debate between grown-up Dave Reichert and our own 1L luminary Darcy Burner was shameful. Reichert was mediocre for the most part, but he was an adult, talking seriously and directly (without obvious prepared talking points) about the real world. Although the "balanced" news reports state that both sides were "bare knuckles," by the end of the first question on Iraq it was clear that Darcy brought her thugs along to intimidate her opponent as opposed to having a serious discussion of real issues. It made me angry, and embarrassed for even her temporary affiliation with our law school (and glad she doesn't mention it much). From the liberal P-I:

The Meydenbauer Center auditorium was filled to capacity with hundreds of people, many vocal and sometimes combative Burner supporters.

Burner never had Reichert, the former King County sheriff, on his heels, but he did get visibly angry as she and the crowd vented their frustration about issues ranging from the Iraq war to health care.

He countered with measured responses to her campaign's criticisms and consistently tried to redirect the debate away from the broader direction of the Bush administration and back to his own accomplishments and policy decisions.

"This is the United States of America, and at some point, Ms. Burner, you are going to have to come out from behind the bushes and recognize I am your opponent," Reichert said. He said his experience and 35 years of community service made him the best candidate for the job, drawing a stark contrast between his long public record and Burner's lack of one.

"I understand independence. I understand taking a stand. I understand firing people. I understand hiring people. I understand promoting people. I understand discipline. I understand terrorism. I understand the law. I understand your rights," Reichert said in an increasingly strident voice.


The audience jeered when Reichert said he "worked 19 years to catch a serial killer," a reference to his work apprehending Green River Killer Gary Ridgway, but he held his ground.

"It's not comic to the victims and their families," he said.

I counted at least 4 times that Reichert was heckled or jeered at during the debate. Her thugs try to drown out their opponent instead of hearing him out. They belittle the capture of a brutal serial killer. Anyone wanna take bets on how many of them actually even live in her district? These brownshirt tactics are unacceptable from any candidate. And who your supporters are matter.

And then was the bizarreness of her attack on Reichert for being "unprincipled" because he broke with Bush on several occasions. Either he's Bush's puppet (making him unprincipled) or he's not (making him unprincipled). You can't have it both ways, but then, when the veracity of your arguments rely on how loud your supporters are, I suppose it just doesn't matter. Reichert's comeback about how many "Bush Democrats" there were based on her logic was priceless.

It should be troubling to any of her potential constituents that in Darcy Burner's world, you're either with her, or you'll be screamed at. You either swallow and regurgitate her talking points whole, or you're a liar. How does she expect to actually accomplish anything in Congress, when she has to work with 534 other Legislators, not to mention lobbyists, other people's staff, the media, the entirety of the executive branch she intends to "stand up to," or her constituents?

I was glad the Reichert came ready to blow her out of the water with the utterly false claims that he'd "cut funding for veterans." Being one such veteran, those ads of hers instantly infuriate me, both for the utter falseness of her claims, and for the fact that she uses her (Republican) family's service as if that made her a national defense expert. It's condescending, too - it's an important campaign issue, but when it comes off as "those poor victims of Bush need us to speak out for them because they clearly can't do it themselves" it really torques me off (doubly when it's not even true). As if vets weren't a powerful voting lobby who can take care of ourselves, thank you very much. As a veteran, I'm personally and deeply offended by her comments. And I wonder how her brother felt when he was standing ready to invade Iraq knowing that Darcy's good friend Baghdad Jim McDermott was in Iraq propagandizing for Saddam, and implying that Bush (and by extension, Darcy's brother who was there ready to kill the poor innocent Iraqi children) was a war criminal. This, I think, more than anything is what takes me from bemused annoyance with Darcy to full on rage, and why I spend the time typing.

The rest was the usual vapid, empty, and fact-free talking points from the left. "We need a plan." (Still don't have one of your own?) "We need answers to our questions." (Even after all those Woodward books?) "We need leadership that will hold themselves to the highest standards of ethics and accountability." (Like Clinton or Kennedy or Studds or McDermott or yourself?) "As a business woman..." (As if she and Bill G. sat and discussed the direction of Microsoft together - I know a ton about her family from her ads, but I have no idea what she actually DID at Microsoft. I understand she wrote a blog, started chaired (correction -OJ) a women's group named after Admiral Hopper (another claim to military fame, I guess), and that's about it. At least she can't be held responsible for Windows ME.) "I don't support guest workers because I don't believe in a two-tiered society." (Yeah - those open borders will keep us safe, Darcy.) "We need the rich to pay their fair share of taxes." (Does she not understand they're shouldering the heaviest percentage of the tax burden, and that because of the tax cuts she would repeal, the bottom 50% of tax payers only pay 3.3% of the taxes, the lowest in decades? Is this ignorance because she's ignoring the facts, or because she can't be bothered to research them in the first place?)

And then, of course, after providing nothing more than the most obviously canned of answers (and frankly, since her well rehearsed and memorized lines didn't always neatly comport with the questions asked, non-answers), liberally sprinkled with manufactured outrage, she called Reichert a liar. Which is interesting coming from Darcy Burner.

This is typical of how Darcy "debates." It's worse when there's no cameras or handlers around. We got into a discussion once during her brief and unheralded foray here in law school. She was explaining to me how AWFUL the economy was, and how no one could get housing, blah, blah, blah. She explained that her college educated (nurse) sister and brother-in-law couldn't find a single place to live anywhere within commuting distance of Olympia, whereupon I offered to find one that day. She started getting mad, and told me I didn't know what I was talking about, although she didn't bother to explain how I was wrong.

That led to a larger discussion on poverty, with Darcy trotting out the tired, tired talking points about how many Americans lived in poverty, they can't get ahead, etc. When I told her that I was one of those Americans who had come from poverty and that I had grown up in a trailer park, and was glad she wasn't around to tell me what a victim I was, she impatiently and condescendingly explained that my success was essentially an accident because I just happened to be smarter than most of the poor people. The implication, of course, is that those poor, dumb Proles need us smart, enlightened people to take care of them. How condescending. How wrong-headed. How socialist. How Big Brother. And how typical of liberals who don't understand that freedom means freedom from government bureaucrats who think they know better than you how to live your life.

But when I pointed out that being in "poverty" in America was a misleading term at best, and that half of Americans below the poverty like actually owned their own homes, she screamed (literally) at me that I was a liar. No support. No rebuttal evidence. Just that I HAD to be a liar, because it didn't comport with the liberal talking points about how terrible life was in the US for all but "The Rich." (To be fair, it turned out I was slightly wrong - it was only 46% who own their homes.)

It's also a pretty ironic charge coming from a Microsoft executive manager.

Frankly, I found the whole thing that day really amusing. She wouldn't even look at me after I dared her to prove me wrong about my poverty stats - she's a grudge holder, that one. But it's less amusing that she might actually face real responsibility some day, carried to power by a bunch of jeering college know-it-all hippies who can't sit through a public event without hooting and hollering like soccer hooligans.

Darcy Burner just isn't qualified for a Congressional seat - she was a low level manager at Microsoft, where virtually everyone but the janitors are "managers" of some kind. Her Ames Lake "community leadership" apparently consisted of her leading one meeting (coincidently in conjunction with a campaign photo op), if "leading" can be used to describe shouting down her neighbors who disagreed with her. Her interest in her community and "community activism" is so deep that she can't be bothered to vote on local issues that affect her potential constituents far more often and directly than the US Congress. She promised to raise taxes and complained about people not being able to find jobs, completely (willfully?) oblivious to the fact that our unemployment rates are at record lows, or that the tax cuts continue to drive growth, and hence, tax revenue. She's flatly unhinged (although her script from the debate is nearly identical) when before a friendly audience, in all seriousness equating the Republican "threat" with the real one coming from the terrorists.

I know Darcy has a lot of friends and supporters in our law school class - many of them are my friends, too, and I hope they don't take offense. But her rudeness, lack of a grasp of the facts beyond what she's been given to memorize, and the thuggery of her supporters was too much for me to handle today. Whatever the merits might be to punishing the Republicans for their lackluster record, this woman has no business anywhere near any kind of real power. It's a shame that a good and successful public servant like Dave Reichert had to suffer the indignity of sharing a stage with this poster child of the New Unserious Daily Kos Democrats. And heaven help us if she's representative of a new majority in Congress.


UPDATE: The video is here.

Also, Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics graciously linked to this post.

CORRECTION: I don't know that Darcy ever actually claimed to have "started" Hoppers - this was an impression I was left with last year from her website. There's no mention of it whatsoever on there now. Current bios state that she was elected to chair the organization. I corrected it above, and am going on the assumption that the mistake was mine.


Martin said...

I only was able to catch the tail end of the debate replayed on NPR last night. I thought Reichert was cool and handled himself well. Burner had the some hostile crowd members on her side, but every one of her answers sounded canned and, in a debate, that sounds less than genuine.

On a side note, the quote of the night had to be "I have a gun, and I know how to use it" -Burner in response to a question about the second amendment. Apparently she had a stalker in college and now has a gun and concealed weapon permit.

ModMilq said...

Caught the beginning of the debate on WTV streaming video last night. I say the beginning because I fell asleep during. Having had Darcy in most of my law school classes during her first year at the UW, I felt a little embarassed for her. Between the supporters shouting after they had been asked not to and her "wooden" persona, all I could think was "is she serious?" She was a much better speaker in class and despite what any of her detractors say, she is very bright. That said, she is pretty naive and it came through in class and it comes through in her debate and response to the issues.

Orrin Johnson said...

You don't go to Harvard or get into this law school without being smart. But being able to think on your feet - or on your own, for that matter - is another matter entirely. I've known some extremely dumb smart people.

PubliusRex said...

"I have a gun and I know how to use it" as a response to a question about the second amendment is like saying, "many of my best friends are [insert minority description]" when you're being called a racist.

I have no doubt that Darcy Burner would grab every gun in America (except those of her goons, those of the real criminals and those of cops) were she to have a say. It fits in with her big government, crypto-fascist views on just about every other issue. It's part of the same paternalistic noblesse oblige that she and most left wingers cling to.

Orrin Johnson said...

True, and I don't doubt she would regulate gun rights until they are gun privleges.

On the other hand, this, and the lack of anyone but Rosie O'Donnell calling for massive new gun control after the Amish shootings, is prima facie evidence of the complete route the left has suffered on this issue.

Cato said...

I didn't see the debate, so I don't have a lot constructive to add except my belief that putting the Democrats in charge of one or both houses of congress can't possibly make matters worse, with Bush in the presidency. This issue is obviously bigger than Darcy and Dave, and there are a *lot* of libertarian voters across this country who will vote for Democrats just to create divided government. Personally liking the candidate is an added bonus, but it isn't a necessity.

Republicans can't take the libertarian vote for granted, and they're about to find out.

Orrin Johnson said...

Those same libertarians had better be ready to remedy the situation when the Democrats make good on their promises to raise taxes. It's no small thing to extricate an incumbent.

And like I said. Democrats? Maybe. But Darcy Burner? No way. I'd trade a Democrat majority in Congress if it meant purging her and her fellow travelers on the fringes like Kucinich, McDermott, and Pelosi.

Anonymous said...

hadn't heard that she "founded" Hoppers at Microsoft. But if she says so, it's a blatent lie. Hoppers was/is a a Women's organization at Microsoft founded in the late 1980 (way pre-Darcy). Any female employee could be a member of this group and the membership was kept anonymous from others (not sure why...but). Darcy was probably a member, but certainly not a founder.

Orrin Johnson said...

To be fair, I don't know that she's ever actually said that she actually "founded it." But I did get the impression from some of her early campaign materials on line that she had some initial input in it. I didn't know it was that old.

Cato said...

If the Democrats start making more progress on restricting individual liberties than the Republicans, I'll gladly start voting Republican in congressional elections again.

Juvenal said...

She kept hitting Reichert for voting with the "Bush-party" -- it'd be interesting to have her give us a list of the issues where she disagrees with Pelosi.

As for her debate performance -- throwing out a bunch of rehearsed and memorized responses which don't address the question asked or the point your opponent's trying to make is no debate.

Her "response" when Steve Scher asked her what the Democratic plan for victory in Iraq was, should by itself completely shatter this misguided notion that she's "smart." She threw out some incomprehensible (but memorized) pablum about the Powell doctrine and about having an exit strategy before one goes to war. So the Democratic strategy for victory in Iraq at this point is having an exit strategy before we went to war. I guess now that we're already at war, their cunning and entirely novel plan can't be deployed. Too bad she did n't run for Congress four years ago, we really could have used someone back then who could throw out mindless cliches and nostrums. It would have given us pause before we went to war ...

Martin said...

I did think Reichert's honesty and personality came through very well. As I mentioned earlier, Burner's response to the second amendment question was quite funny, but not because of its comedic value. It was funny because she was trying to use a catch phrase to answer the question and it did not work. Reichert responded with a better quote: "I also know how to use a gun." That response got quite a few laughs from a crowd well-aware of his background.

Skeptic said...

One point of correction the Hoppers organization at Microsoft was organized many, many years before Darcy Burner ever worked there.

Jeff B. said...

Excellent post Orrin. I've gathered all of what you write0 from listening to Darcy Burner and reading about her campaign over the past several months, but it's nice to hear my conclusions validated by someone who actually was her peer in an everyday setting and who attemtpted to debate her in law school.

We've all had the same debates with many on the left. They go nowhere and they are all predicated on blind hatred on the part of the person we are debating against. Try to have a debate with someone on the left who has bought in to the 9/11 "Truth" movement!! No amount of rational persuading can convince them it's not a conspiracy. It's just Bush hatred and America hatred in a crescendo until they are unwilling to listen any longer.

I've noticed that more and more it's impossible for Americans to continue rational debate with the left. That's why we must jettison the left continually at election time. I challenge everyone to pick any issue and think about how it is considered from the left and right. You will find that on the right there is a vigorous, yet rational debate between moderates and more conservative folks. But on the left, there's a shrill extremism that goes out of the reality and into the irrational.

Orrin listed many such issues, Illegal immigration, Social Security, etc. but the shrill unwillingness for the left to engage in debate goes further to nearly every issue. The left does not live in the spirit of compromise and persuasion that is the hallmark of American Civics, it's their way or the highway.

The left knows that they are outcast and mistrusted. They know they are viewed as irrational thugs and moonbats. The mainstream media journalists who are largely apologists and conveyers of the left's message also know that they are increasingly marginalized. They know they do not hold a candle to Fox News, talk radio and bloggers. What we are witnessing from the left is an all-out, go-for-broke style attack on conservatives that has removed any former sense of decent debate rules, balance of free speech, restraint, lack of physical threat, refrain from ad hominem attacks, etc. The left knows they are on the ropes, and now all they can offer is to lash out instead of searching for any common ground and / or rational platform from which to sell their ideas. Tough debate? Bus in the thugs.

Look for continuance of the Republican majority in November and in 2008.

PubliusRex said...

Cato -

Does this mean you favor the WA legislature going republican?

PubliusRex said...

Cato -

If you're afraid of gov't infringement, what makes you think a democrat majority in the house or senate is any less likely to vote in favor of gov't expansion than a republican majority.

Ryan C said...

Orrin Johnson's post sounds like sour grapes. A smart, ambitious progressive has made a horserace out of what should have been a cake walk for Reichert. You can either credit Darcy for running one hell of a campaign, or blame Reichert for totally mismanaging his. Otherwise how do you explain it being a toss-up?

Cato said...


Absolutely, though governors probably need less oversite than presidents. At least one house should be Republican. That's tempered by the fact that the Democratic majority here has been much more responsible since they took power than the Republican majority in D.C.

But yes, divided government here as well. In fact, if I have to go in for unified government at the State level, I prefer Republicans.

Anonymous said...

I don't really care how "brite" or "smart" Ms. Burner is... she's an airhead with zero common sense. My niece is a brilliant vascular surgeon... but she's also about as naive as they come and her views on most topics are illogical and idiotic. I still love her... but I wouldn't vote for her if she were running for Congress and I won't vote for airhead Burner either. God help us if she wins as we'll certainly need it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know whom of you was at the debate, but there are some mistakes in the original post. Dave Reichert brought up a massive notebook onto the stage and had to flip to the right page and look at the talking points for every single question. Darcy didn't even bring a piece of paper. As far as the "thugs," there were plenty of reichert supporters who were also rowdy. Darcy told the crowd 3 different times to stop it. This is a normal part of public appearences in politics, especially at debates.
As far as Reichert being an "adult"...that is defenitely what i was thinking when he was almost yelling during his final statement or when he wouldnt even answer a question...i have never been to a debate or seen one on TV where the person asctually passed on a question.

As far as taxes go; "burden" and % are two whole differnt things. Paying a higher percentage and the "burden" you face are completely differnt. ANyways were in a war right now and we should all have to make some sacrifices, especially those who are millionaires.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous,

You dont even know what you are talking about when you say that Dave was looking at his notes for every single question. If you did notice all public speakers carry notes with them to refer to true facts not something made up off the top of their heads. AKA BS.
And Darcy only told the her thugs to quiet down when it was her turn to speak. If you ask me you could group democrats in to sterotypical group called. RUDE PEOPLE. I guess its only free speach if your are one of them.
Oh and by the way it is better not to answer a question then to BS your way through one. There were several questions that she did not even come close to answering.

Cato said...

Ok, we need a civility check here. "SO THERE" isn't generally an appropriate statement in a discussion forum.

Also, it'd be nice if everyone at least put some identifying mark on their responses (even if it's made up), just so we can tell which anonymous posters are which. Otherwise it may get confusing.

Anonymous said...

I am a resident of the 8th District and a Microsoft employee, a Group Program Manager - the division where Darcy Burner worked. After hearing claims and public references to her as a former Microsoft executive and from her web site "Darcy went to work for Microsoft in 2000 and became the lead manager for an initiative to change the way software was built. " I couldn't believe it. She was only a "Program Manager" for a logo program. see

A Program Manager is mostly an entry level job at Microsoft and as I recall, she seemed an average employee and the program was during her tenure, not especially successful. Darcy was not an execuitive and she certainly did not impact the way software was build, nor in this capacity was she considered a "Lead Product Manager" for .Net as described in wikipedia. Microsoft has thousands of program managers and this is not in any way considered an exec job, neither is marketing a logo. Resume misrepresentation can be a firing offense at Microsoft and I don't believe it qualifies Darcy for congress.

Orrin Johnson said...

Good lord. Her use of the term "businesswoman" was even looser than I thought.

It bothers me that someone would think trying to drown out a candidate at a debate is "normal." It's not a rally. It's a debate. I've seen a lot of political debates, and I'd never seen anything like that before. I've linked to the video if anyone doubts the one-sidedness of it. The P-I seemed to agree, and they're not exactly a right wing shill.

Darcy doesn't want people to know her true job history, education background, or even her own current campaign events. She doesn't want anyone to even hear the other side, and when it gets through the din, she vilifies the speaker. She's fantastic at memorizing canned responses - not a skill that matters in the slightest in the real world of law making. Give me a guy with a long history of public service who brings notes and double checks his numbers over an over handled novice with an elastic resume any day.

ModMilq said...

...And a guy with GREAT HAIR!

Anonymous said...

Well, I for one CAN choose between Darcy and Dave. And I'm pretty clear on who I'll choose as a citizen of the 8th district. More than knowing that, for the first time, I've contributed to a political campaign. It happened the day that Reichert sold out our constitution to please his masters. Yup, you know what I mean no doubt.... selling our right to privacy and habeus corpus downstream. That's enough for a NEGATIVE vote in any true Americans mind. Perhaps you missed that class in law school..... I had intended to donate to Darcy's campaign (and no I don't work for microsoft). After that, I donated twice as much as I originally intended to, though it's a strain on my budget this month.

Pretty much, Darcy was much more credible in the debate than Reichert and much clearer in her communication style. She also lines up pretty well with my values on most of the issues discussed. Darcy has MY Vote!

Modmilq said...

But she has dull, lifeless hair....

Orrin Johnson said...

Anonymous, I'm very far from the best speller in the world, but it's habeAs. And please see my post above if you actually wish to understand and debate this particular issue, as opposed to anonymously spewing embarassingly uninformed opinions someone told you to have.