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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Syndicated columns

Smart Bombs: Politicians can’t escape politics

Asking a politician to “put politics aside” is an odd request. Even odder when a politician says it. Would we expect this of other professions?

“I’m sure we could reach agreement on my zero-interest-loan request if you’d just put banking aside.”

But there is that expectation of politicians by politicians, over and over:

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.: “It’s time for Democrats to put politics aside and do what’s right for the victims of human trafficking.”

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on the No Child Left Behind Act.: “Students and parents across the country are looking to us to put politics aside, break through the gridlock, and fix this broken law.”

Nobody says this if they aren’t in favor of the outcome. You never hear, “Let’s put politics aside and pass this reprehensible bill.” That truly would be putting politics aside. And truly stupid.

Another canard is ending “politics as usual.” To be replaced with what? A new and refreshing form that’s also political!

Politicians often bemoan the lack of public trust, but it doesn’t help when they implicitly deride their own jobs. So let’s resolve that it’s fine for bankers to be bankers and for politicians to be politicians.

If they say otherwise, well, that’s politics as usual.

Party of Davis. “Don’t tread on me” … “states’ rights” … “sovereignty.” It’s strange how the “Party of Lincoln” has allowed itself to be taken over by folks who hold him in contempt. The insurrectionists couldn’t gain traction as Libertarians and Constitutionalists, so they successfully infiltrated the party that did the most to preserve a union they apparently despise.

Must’ve driven them crazy to see the American flag flying at half-staff in remembrance of Honest Abe’s assassination.

So where do actual Republicans go from here? Many of them know their party is in need of emancipation, but who is brave enough to make the proclamation?

In my opinion. There’s the common understanding of the term “nonpartisan” – unbiased, objective – and the one used for tax purposes by think tanks and political policy groups. Under the federal tax code, entities qualify as “nonpartisan” if they don’t explicitly endorse a specific action. They can assemble facts and figures in such a way that only one decision makes sense, but as long as they don’t say “vote for (fill-in-the-blank),” they’re nonpartisan, as far as the Internal Revenue Service is concerned.

This is crucial to these groups because it preserves their tax-exempt status. Where it gets confusing is when they use “nonpartisan” in contexts where the common definition is expected.

This is what’s behind the dust-up between the “nonpartisan” Washington Policy Center and critics who have accused it being biased in its analysis of the Spokane Transit Authority ballot measure. Denying this slant is fine when talking with the tax man, but otherwise it’s absurd.

My job is to write editorials and this column, but even if I don’t explicitly suggest a course of action, my pieces are decidedly biased. All opinion writing is. This must be confusing, because I’m sometimes congratulated for my “objectivity.”

I suppose we all like to think of our opinions as objective, but it’s a partisan conceit.

That’s a wrap. Hillary Clinton and the lunchtime burrito wasn’t a total waste of journalism. Now more people know that Aristotle and Chipotle don’t rhyme.

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.
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