The Spokesman-Review


Smart bombs

It’s unfair, by George

The favored tool deployed by Barack Obama’s critics has been guilt by association. He is deemed culpable for the comments of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the corruption of developer Tony Rezko and the long-ago radical acts of former Weather Underground member William Ayers.

Obama didn’t engage in any of the offensive behaviors, but he “associated” with those people – sometimes before their controversial acts and sometimes after. That, in turn, is supposed to shine a spotlight on his judgment and character. If true, that’s bad news for … George Nethercutt.

On Tuesday, his political mentor, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, was hit with a seven-count indictment for the alleged concealment of more than $250,000 in gifts from a company that was the recipient of federal grants that Stevens steered its way.

Nethercutt got his start in D.C. politics when he went to work for Stevens. He was the senator’s chief of staff from 1972 to 1977.

Nethercutt was also associated with Steven Griles, who served 10 months in prison for obstruction of justice during the U.S. Justice Department’s corruption probe of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Nethercutt, Griles and Andrew Lundquist were partners in a lobbying firm that was formed after Nethercutt’s failed bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. Griles left the lobbying firm when the Justice Department told him he was a grand jury target.

Lundquist made headlines back in 2001, when he was Vice President Dick Cheney’s point person for the task force formed to guide the nation’s energy policy. The task force was roundly criticized for conducting business in secret and was eventually sued by the Government Accounting Office for failure to turn over documents.

Now, Nethercutt did not engage in any of these activities. Could he have predicted that his mentor would one day be indicted? That his lobbying partner would do time? Is tying him to the indiscretions of others really fair?

Well, all of that is beside the point when we’re deploying guilt by association, isn’t it?

Light! Action! Camera! That McCain ad flashing images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton in putting down Obama’s leadership qualities suffers from stunning lapse of memory. McCain considers himself to be the present-day emodiment of a politician who would’ve never made it to the White House without first being a celebrity.

What was his name again? Hosted “Death Valley Days.” Played second banana to monkeys in the movies. Nickname comes from a role he played. And though the man had no foreign policy experience, McCain was an adoring fan.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks, who can be reached at or at (509) 459-5026.

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