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Spin Control

Carpetbaggery, Part 2

Thursday's post challenging Councilman Bob Apple's label of "carpetbagger" on a city judicial candidate brought more than a dozen comments, including one from Apple himself.

" I honestly believe any body still considers an elected official who would literaly refuse to live in the area they are elected for would qualify as a carpetbagger. Now Mrs Staab wants us to, elect her as a Spokane City Municipal Court Judge and only hearing cases of Spokane City residents however will not reside within our City as Brian Whitaker dose and as a result, he has my vote. Honestly I cannot imagine voting any other way concerning this simple question." he wrote.

To save occasional readers from scrolling down, the Reader's Digest version of this discussion goes like this: Judge Tracy Staab, who is seeking election to the position to which she was appointed earlier this year, lives outside the city limits in Spokane County. The law allows that, although Apple and some others think that regardless of what the law allows, Staab ought not to hold the post. In an e-mail, to constituents and others last week, Apple said he was voting for her opponent, Bryan Whitaker, because she's a carpetbagger.

The term carpetbagger dates to the 19th Century and  comes from a description of outsiders who move into an area to take advantage of something, such as a political race. It doesn't apply to Staab, the post argued.

In his rebuttal, Apple makes two interesting arguments. One is that she would "literally refuse to live in the city". Ignoring for a moment the all too common misuse of literally, Apple seems to be suggesting that Staab should move from the county to the city to be eligible for the job.

That would actually be carpetbagging, because she'd be moving in an attempt to get elected.

The other argument is that he's using the word properly because under his definition, which he believes is acceptable to "anybody", that's what a carpetbagger is.

That's the argument Humpty Dumpty made to Alice, that a word “means just what I choose it to mean, nothing more nor less.”

But on this side of the looking glass, words mean what they mean.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.