Midday Scan: Marriage equality opponents divide and conquer in national campaign

When campaigning, taking a page from Sun Tzu can often be more effective than, you know, being nice. And for the National Organization for Marriage, no tactic appears to be too dirty or underhanded, as long as it assures success.

Crosscut archive image.

Darcy Burner

When campaigning, taking a page from Sun Tzu can often be more effective than, you know, being nice. And for the National Organization for Marriage, no tactic appears to be too dirty or underhanded, as long as it assures success.

Want to pass a school levy or serve on the city council? Don't study Gandhi or parrot William Ury's Getting to Yes. Soak up Carl von Clausewitz's Principles of War or Sun Tzu or Thomas Hobbes. You know, that old catchy Hobbesian quote, "Not believing in force is the same as not believing in gravitation." It's what opponents of marriage equality are doing, and it might just work.  

As the Associated Press reports, the National Organization for Marriage, which is helping bankroll Referendum 74, has embraced a divide-and-conquer strategy to defeat same-sex marriage nationwide. It's a rich irony, that nothing quite says "family values" as a sub rosa message of disharmony and division.    

"The leading national organization opposing same-sex marriage has sought to split the Democratic Party base by pitting African-Americans and Hispanics against gay-rights groups, according to confidential strategy memos made public by court officials in Maine," David Crary writes. "'The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies,' says one of the memos. It also suggests 'interrupting' the process of cultural assimilation for Hispanics in hopes of curtailing support for same-sex marriage." 

Let's just hope NOM didn't neglect the Sun Tzu quote, "There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare."

Freedom from the healthcare mandate could squeeze Washington residents. How so?  

"Unnoticed as the debate rages over the mandate in the health-care reform, this state just passed a grim milestone. The amount of 'charity care' delivered at state hospitals reached, for the first time, the $1 billion mark," the Seattle Times' Danny Westneat writes. "The state hospital association reported last month that for 2011, the total medical bills not collected because people were judged too poor to pay was $1.1 billion in Washington. Five years ago, the figure was only half that."  

Westneat's overarching point should resonate even among opponents of Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Irrespective of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling later this spring, Washingtonians will still need a mechanism to pay for those who use emergency rooms for primary care.  

Fasten your seatbelts, the feds are in town and they have a plan for the Seattle Police Department. There's something curiously Chicago-like about G-men swooping in to tell locals how to clean up Dodge. Could the policy prescriptions of these latter-day Eliot Ness's actually work? (And was Seattle ever Dodge in the first place?)    

"According to several sources familiar with the situation, all asking to remain anonymous, attorneys at the US Department of Justice have called a meeting with city officials this Friday to unveil draft terms for reforming the Seattle Police Department," The Stranger's Dominic Holden writes. "This would be the first time city officials have seen the federal recommendations for reforming our troubled police force; however, it's unclear if City Hall is prepared to adopt the recommendations in unison. Talks have stalled among the city's elected leaders and the DOJ, reportedly frustrated by the city's internal logjam, is calling this week's meeting sooner rather than later to put forth its proposals, according to numerous sources." 

Congressional candidate Darcy Burner is one of us, only more so. Burner, who is running in the newly drawn 1st Congressional district, has produced a campaign magazine that underscores her empathy with the local hoi polloi. As the Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes, "The magazine Darcy now celebrates the cows at a Monroe dairy as 'clean energy pioneers,' the 'glamorous goats' near Custer for producing milk used in moisturizers, and the 'eighty quality wines' produced in the 'Woodinville wine country.'"

If those goats and clean-energy cows could vote, Burner would be guaranteed a win. The challenge is how to recast the image of a perceived elite. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry said to a mostly union audience in Everett, "Don't believe that Republican folderol!" Afterwards, Midday Scan's author and most members of the crowd ran to check their dictionaries. Concerning Burner, Connelly reports, "She seemed anything but down home at a Friday candidates' forum in Everett, acting kind of like the district should be grateful to have her. 'After the 2008 election I didn’t take one of the high-paying jobs I could have taken,' Burner said at one point." Compounding the perception issue is yesterday's news that Burner tweeted that President Obama was really a Republican.  

Lastly, the imbroglio over a proposed Bellingham coal port, ably covered by veteran journalist and Crosscut scribe Floyd McKay, is growing more complicated as local doctors zero in on the public health impact of additional coal-train traffic. The money quote is from the University of Washington's Dr. Frank James. "I’d never seen 160 doctors agree on anything — really, honest, ever — and 160 people signed up over a matter of a week. So I think people understand that this is a threat, first to their patients, but secondly to them and their families," James said. EarthFix has the report.

Link Summary

The Herald, "Gay-marriage foes sought to split gays and blacks" 

Seattle Times, "Danny Westneat: Health-care freedom can be costly"

The Stranger, "DOJ will issue draft police reforms on Friday"

Seattlepi.com, "Darcy Burner, in magazine, goes down home"

EarthFix, "Increased coal-train traffic could mean bad news for public health"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson