"Hader and Rossi promise best contest in the 8th Congressional District."
That's how The Seattle Times editorial board headlines their extremely weird endorsement of Shannon Hader, who's running for Congress in the most important U.S. House race in the history of the 8th District.
On the surface it looks like the board's backdoor virgins in sensible shoes are just looking for a rousing "battle of ideas" in the race, a real intellectual "contest" between two qualified candidates with equally valid ideas. This framing from the board would come off as alarmingly naive in our current political climate if it didn't read as such an obvious veil for what they really mean, which is that they endorse Rossi (and Hader) for Congress, and that they're really only endorsing Hader because Rossi's a shoe-in.
Unfortunately for all of us, you have to read all the way to the conclusion to find that message: "Hader and Rossi are the best candidates to advance," the board writes. That little shift from "best contest" in the headline to "best candidates" in the conclusion shows that the board approves of Rossi's lead in the race, and that they really are endorsing Hader because the race between the Democrats is so heated and (somewhat) interesting.
We can't expect much from an editorial board that endorsed Rep. Dave Reichert every time he ran for Congress, but their endorsement of Rossi contravenes their own stated standards for candidates running for the House in 2018.
Trump's make-out session with Putin at Helsinki compelled the Times to write a blustery editorial demanding citizens "vote to restore America's honor" this year. "In congressional races, including 10 House seats and one Senate seat up for grabs in Washington, voters must choose candidates who are most capable and willing to keep the president in check and prevent further harm," the board writes. "The justice system and Congress must keep him in check."
But Rossi—the guy they're telling you to vote for—isn't going to stand up to Trump. Though Rossi says he's not running to be The Apprentice, he's going to act like all the other Republican representatives and fall in line and/or only vote for bills the president says he'll sign. He's suggested as much more than once already. Though Rossi says he disagrees with the president on trade, for instance, he still won't say whether he'd act to restrict the president's trade authority.
In the realm of "national security," Rossi was quick to buy Trump's non-walkback walkback on Putin's culpability in Russia's cyberwar on the U.S. elections, telling King 5 he was "glad the President clarified that he believes U.S. intelligence reports on Russian election interference."
But Trump did not clarify anything with his statement. After saying he accepted the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the U.S. elections, he said, "Could have been other people also. There’s a lot of people out there." Rossi's satisfaction with the President's obviously unclear, contradictory statement suggests he's willing to take the party line and brush Trump's bullshit under the rug as quickly as he can.
Moreover, the Times isn't exactly an authority on who can stand up to Trump and who can't. They thought their guy Reichert had a "conscience-driven independent streak" that would allow him to put country over party, too, but he voted to gut the Office of Ethics the second Trump entered office. Plus, in committee he voted to kick 23 million people off health care, including thousands of his own constituents.
The Times's editorial board still has this idea that Republicans running for federal office are going to be anything other than cogs in a machine designed to undermine our Democracy and increase the wealth of the rich at the expense of the poor, which might be cute in an old-fashioned way if the stakes weren't so high.
The only other thing I'll say is that the board's praise of Hader's budgetary experience serves as a backwards way of complimenting Rossi, who they call a "budget chief." And I'm afraid their focus on that aspect of her career will make it easier for them to endorse Rossi in the general if Hader makes it through.
On one hand, it's unfair to Hader to compare Rossi's budget experience with hers. Hader was managing a federal budget designed to solve a health care crisis. Rossi wanted to create a health care crisis by trying to kick 46,000 kids off Medicaid with a state budget he lifted from Democratic Governor Gary Locke.
But Hader was working with a $2 billion budget, and Rossi was working with a $22.8 billion plan to balance an entire state's budget. Hader always says she'd love to go toe-to-toe with Rossi on his supposed budget-writing prowess. "You show me yours, and I'll show you mine," is the line she often uses to taunt him into talking about one of the only things he ever talks about on the campaign trail.
If Hader does make it through the primary, Rossi won't shrink from his major "achievement" in the legislature. I'm sure he'd love to talk about how much bigger his budget was than hers, would love to reinforce the notion that he envisioned the budget even though he didn't, would love one more opportunity to say he wants health insurance companies chasing after your dollar, etc. etc.
And I could see the Times's editorial board nodding their head up and down to all of that, all while buying Rossi's nonsense about having some kind of special ability to reach bipartisan solutions during the Trump administration by hosting karaoke nights and Italian dinners.