Head West, Turn Right

The Joint Blog of the Conservative Northwest Blogging Alliance: Red State Points of View from a Blue State Point on the Compass.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Politicizing Sex Predator Legislation

Cross-posted at Respectfully Republican.

This Sunday's editorial in the Seattle PI by Thomas Shapley is a poorly written political hit-piece. Lamenting his receipt of a "sex offender notification" mailer by the Speaker's Roundtable (a conservative PAC?) Shapley begins by calling this mailer "sleazy".

The target of one of the mailers was Rep. Pat Lantz. Shapley explains the "scam" this way:
On the opening day of the legislative session, House Republicans demanded the full House vote immediately on complex legislation to toughen punishment of sex offenders that hadn't even had a public hearing. It was a tawdry try by the minority caucus leadership to grab some limelight and gin up a "gotcha" issue to use against Democrats in this year's election campaign. The postcard hit piece is slam-dunk evidence of that.
Democrats are rallying against the postcards, but at the same time, are replying by saying things dangerously close to condoning certain types of sex abuse crimes (i.e. making a differentiation between known, versus, unknown to the victim). It's not hard to tell that this was an effective move by Republicans, and an ineffective response by Democrats. Knocked back on their heels by this "stunt", Democrats are not used to such brawny leadership by the minority Party.

That is part of the reason they have not been able to effectively mount a response. The second part really boils down to an idiotic attempt to use "moral indignation" at what the Republicans have done, when we're talking about one of the worst forms of crime that destroys the lives of innocent people.

Shapley acknowledges this, and states, "The paraded outrage and pro forma demands for apology are largely parliamentary stagecraft (by Democrats). So why should the rest of us care about such partisan potshots?"

Unfortunately, he then continues by failing to recognize the biggest reason why we should care: Republicans have proposed solid legislation, that would put sex-offenders behind bars for life. Democrats are so afraid of giving the Republicans an inch of the spotlight, that they shunned good legislation, and ended up looking like they were "soft" on crime, and albeit in a round-about way, more supportive of sex-offenders than their victims.

Wrapping up, Shapley asks a no-brainer question, likely trying to give the appearance of an open-minded and un-biased editorialist, you know, typical "media saves the day with a previously unheard of, and brilliant solution:
What the rest of us want to know is why a guy who committed such heinous crimes lives in any of our communities. What are lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, going to do to keep this type of predator locked up?
Republicans already gave it a good shot. Democrats reacted poorly, and are now running their mouths rather than taking up the issue.

My suggestion: rather than apologizing, Republicans should capitalize on this rare opportunity that has been created for them. Take the lead on something momentous, and charge forward! Whether they will do that, is really what remains to be seen.

Fear of a backlash from voters is intuitive, but there is no calculus to measure that. From a strategy perspective, getting the legislation passed in both chambers and signed by "Chris" is the best move for Republicans. Then we can truly lay claim to being: "tough on crime", "protectors of the family", and "shrewd lawmakers".


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