Politics & Government

The Nose: Inslee Hulks out at debate, plus corrections from the department of many letters

Boy, that Wednesday gubernatorial debate between incumbent Big Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Bill Bryant was a doozy! Atomic leg drops, thumbs in the eye, a folding chair attack — The Sniff is still recovering from watching the online feed.

It’s hard to capture the oh-so-subtle nuances of these talk-offs in sound bites and summaries. You miss the moves behind the moves, the tiny gestures and tones that reveal high-end strategy.

The candidates covered a wide range of topics on the debate stage in Spokane, but everything boiled down to one key moment. It featured a rare political tactic known to cunning political consultants as The Magic Word Ploy (The Sniff edited this transcript for clarity):

Inslee: (quietly, looking at fingernails) Trump?

Bryant: Excuse me?

Inslee: (staring into space) Um ... Trump?

Bryant: Uh ... uh ... this state is a campground! Pack it in, pack it out!

Inslee: (sharp) Trump!

Bryant: I live in Seattle, but I’m not — I don’t eat there!

Inslee: (no-look finger point) Trumpity-Trumpity-Trump!

Bryant: Ow! Ow! I support a $15 minimum wage in some cases!

Inslee: (pump fakes) Tr-

Bryant: I have hipster glasses! I don’t like oil trains! You’re going to have to run on your record! Did you order the Code Red?

Inslee: (hulking out) TRUMPA-TRUMPA-TRUMPA-TRUMP!

Bryant: Aaaaggghh!

The other debate: If you were hanging around with nothing to do before the Inslee-Bryant slugfest, like the other six people in the crowd, you might have watched the undercard, featuring the two candidates for secretary of state.

It wasn’t quite the all-out brawl staged by the guv candidates, but incumbent Republican Kim Wyman and Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski put on a decent show. High marks as well for referee/moderator Jim Camden, Olympia bureau chief for the Spokane Spokesman-Review, and so darn nice he could be an honorary Canadian.

T-Pod’s campaign seems to like wild swings. Earlier this year, she blamed The Wymanator for not canceling the spring presidential-preference primary, though the ballots were already mailed and the secretary of state doesn’t have a shiny red CANCEL PRIMARY button to press (in fact, the button is under the rostrum in both chambers of the Legislature).

More recently, a weird T-Pod ad failed The Fishwrap’s Smell Test. The ad said voter turnout in primary elections is lower than general elections and implied that was Wyman’s fault, which is sort of like blaming the rain on weather forecasters.

Near the end of Wednesday’s debate, Wyman slipped in a shiv: She mentioned her endorsements from elections officials around the state, including “a county auditor in Pierce County who never endorses in elections.”

Oho — who could that be? You guessed! It’s Pierceland’s own auditor, Julie Lu Anderson, so maniacally nonpartisan she hasn’t endorsed anyone in seven years.

Hey, who knows whether establishment endorsements matter? The Republican presidential nominee didn’t get many. Look at the success he’s having!

The other department of corrections: Evidently, the state department of Many Letters, otherwise known as the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which contains numerous sub-sub departments such as DBHR, BHA and HCS, is a little chapped at a run of negative press coverage.

It’s that darned mental-health stuff again. You know, the shortage of beds at Western State Hospital, the scrutiny from federal courts and officials over staff safety, and prison inmates waiting for competency evaluations; a great big snarl.

As it happens, newsie types all over, including The Fishwrap, keep writing stories about those big issues. Some of them have an unfortunate side effect: They make the state look kinda bad.

Problem! How do you counter bad news, like a federal judge telling state officials they value their policy preferences “over the constitutional rights” of inmates stuck in limbo?

Solution! Set up a little state web page where you take down all those shallow, superficial journalists.

Don’t believe it? Never underestimate a dedicated quibbler. The page, called “Truth Be Told,” is published by the Services and Enterprise Support Administration (SESA), another letter-wasting DSHS rabbit hole.

A little scrolling reveals a list of clarifications on various news stories dating back to 2014. The corrections include, among other items, a dissertation on the difference between a locked room and a restricted room (the wording is super-tricky — either way, you can’t leave).

Another correction aims at a TV story about Western State Hospital (hey, normally The Sniff would support a TV slam, but solidarity matters). The story, citing internal emails, said staffers were afraid to speak out about problems at the hospital for fear of facing disciplinary action.

The Truth Be Told site “corrects” the story by including a fuller email string warning staffers that overly critical talk could lead to ... corrective action! Hey, great job, SESA! Who’s paying you to produce this stuff, anyway? Line that person up for a bonus!

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