I hate to belabor the obvious, but when the Seattle Times editorial board uses the word "painful" to describe the state budget, they're not using the word to express a sense of empathy or shared suffering.
The K-12 teachers who haven't had a raise in six years but will now see their wages cut by nearly two percent? I don't believe the Seattle Times editors truly feel their pain. The college students who will see their tuition rise by about 70 percent over four years? No skin off the Blethen gang's back. The seniors losing home health care, the kids stuffed into overcrowded classrooms, the thousands of state workers who have lost their jobs? I honestly don't believe that the editors find any of this truly painful. Necessary, perhaps. Efficient. A good start. But not painful.
I'm sure they feel obligated to use the word "painful"—to do otherwise would appear insensitive—but not feeling any of the pain themselves, their feigned empathy falls flat. In fact, worse. They appear to imbue the word with a sense of pride, as if inflicting "pain" was the serious, tough minded, responsible thing to do. This was the budget they fought for. This was the budget they got. And as "painful" as they say the budget is, they can't seem to hide their pleasure at its passage.