It only took one little word for Colorado Republican Party chief and Westword profile-subject Dick Wadhams to notch a media victory. And the Denver dailies won't even print it.
That term was "ass." Or, as the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post spell it, "a--."
Wadhams initially hit bottom, in a manner of speaking, in an interview for August 2's "GOP Bashes Udall Over Missing Recess Vote," penned by Rocky Mountain News reporting powerhouse Lynn Bartels. The issue? Democratic senatorial candidate Mark Udall had pledged in a debate with Republican counterpart Bob Schaffer to vote with Republicans to keep the U.S. Congress in session until it took on a specific energy bill -- and although Udall did so on August 1, he failed to weigh in on the topic two days earlier because he was gone.
Making a big deal over this distinction seems like hair-splitting, but Wadhams, who's serving as Schaffer's campaign manager, didn't hesitate, declaring, "He's not going to get away with it. We're going to shove a bunch of 30-second ads up his a-- on this issue over the course of the campaign."
Rather than simply shrugging off this ass-ertion as Wadhams being Wadhams, representatives of the Colorado Democratic Party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tumbled into his trap by publicly criticizing his language. Hard to understand why. Since "ass" is mild enough to appear in TV sitcoms during what was once considered the family hour, the public could hardly have been expected to rise up in righteous indignation over its use. Moreover, raising the subject guaranteed that Wadhams' original objection, weak though it might be, would get more attention -- and that's exactly what happened. On August 5, the Rocky ran "Schaffer Campaign Boss Defiant Over Choice of Words," a Bartels follow-up that found Wadhams shrugging off the Dems' finger-wagging, as well he should have, before reiterating his original point. And the same day's edition of the Post placed "Love or Loathe Him, Wadhams Plays For Keeps," an offering that employed the "ass" remark as a jumping-off point, on its front page. Scribe Michael Riley studiously avoided mentioning that Wadhams had shared the allegedly offending comment with the Rocky -- yet he noted that the conservative mouthpiece eagerly confirmed its accuracy and subsequently repeated it for another reporter.
Granted, Wadhams' quips aren't always so successful. A July 24 More Messages blog noted that his declaration in a different Post piece that "the chickens are coming home to roost" in relation to Governor Bill Ritter's falling poll numbers recalled Ward Churchill -- an association that certainly didn't do the Republicans any good. But in this case, Wadhams played the press and his political opponents like a fiddle, simply by showing his "ass." -- Michael Roberts