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:
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.
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.
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 MoveOn.org 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,
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
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.