What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 2, 2013

More On Luke's Swiftboating...

There's a portion of Luke's latest swiftboat ad that I wanted to address. It's the part where the narrator says that:
Peduto voted against the living wage
The issue is big enough that there was a press conference this morning to address the swiftboating issue.

Potter, as usual, deftly covered the story:
So here's the fact-check. Peduto did vote to shelve living wage in 2002 -- a vote that everyone knew would put the bill on ice for an indefinite period. But since then, Peduto has also taken steps to boost the wages of low-income workers -- over the objections of the mayor now attacking his record. You can see why [SEIU's Sam] Williamson and others are outraged, and why they feel the ad creates a false impression. But Ravenstahl's ad may not exactly "rewrite history," as Williamson claimed, so much a offer a highly selective reading of it. And such readings are part of every election.

But Peduto's rival, Jack Wagner, ought to avoid chortling too loudly. Because by the same token, one can imagine an ad denouncing Wagner for, say, his own 1980s-era opposition to a city-council measure banning anti-gay discrimination. In later years, Wagner supported similar legislation on the state level. But if selective history is good for the goose ... [Italics in original.]
Potter writes about how Peduto's supporters "feel the ad creates a false impression" and so spent a great deal of time at the press conference pointing out (as Peduto himself does on his webpage devoted to debunking the swiftboat ad) the efforts that Peduto has done more recently to help
working families:
Williamson and other speakers were largely concerned with the impression created by one sentence of the ad: "Peduto voted against a living wage, hurting low-income workers citywide." To dispute that characterization, they cited a 2009 fight over an ordinance establishing a prevailing wage. Under that measure, if grocery stores, hotels, and office buildings want public subsidies for their projects, they must pay workers the prevailing wage for workers doing similar work elsewhere. (The idea is to ensure that city money isn't used to undercut the wages of the existing workforce.) But Mayor Luke Ravenstahl opposed the measure -- to the point of chaining the doors of office closed to keep wage supporters at bay. Peduto, by contrast, "welcomed us with open arms," said Tony Helfer, the head of UFCW 23, at today's event. And despite a whole series of fifth-floor shenanigans designed to thwart the bill -- including an 11th-hour bid by Ravenstahl to sandbag the measure, it eventually became law.
The next sentence is more or less guaranteed to bring about a chuckle or two:
It is, of course, ironic as hell for Ravenstahl -- who did everything he could to stop prevailing wage -- to be calling out Peduto for not doing enough to support workers.
Who said swiftboating was ever honest?  I mean, look at what the original swiftboating was trying to do: make the decorated war hero (then Senator Kerry) look like a coward in order for the guy who sat out the Vietnam war (then President Bush) to look like a hero.

So this swiftboating irony for Ravenstahl is no big deal - it's par for the course, if you wanna make a golf metaphor.  And we all know Luke's always teed up for a good golf metaphor!

But why would the City Council want to connect the two (delay the living wage in the city until there was a living wage in the county)?  According to Sonya Toler, Peduto's communications director, "Connecting the two was an effort to prevent employers from relocating to the county in order to avoid paying higher wages."

So what looks like one thing might, in fact, be something else.  Not that that would matter to Luke's friends on the Committee for a Better Pittsburgh and the swiftboat PR firm they're working with.

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