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Ad firms for movies have long been in the habit of selectively quoting from reviews in order to make even the worst Hollywood turkey look like the second coming of Casablanca. Now it seems like D.C. Council candidates have taken up the tactic!
How else to view an image At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange‘s campaign is using on his website right now? Politicians love to quote from newspaper endorsements to make themselves look good to voters: “Don’t take it from me,” the candidates imply, “this trusted media source also thinks I’m fantastic.” So it’s no surprise that Orange is quoting from the 2010 editorial where the Washington Post endorsed him. It is a bit of a surprise, though, to see that he’s quoting from a Washington City Paper story in a way that makes it look like we called him “a champion of ethical government reforms.”
In fact, the story in question, Loose Lips’ 2011 Loosie Awards for D.C. politics, had this to say about Orange:
The “How You Like Me Now?” Award for Quick Image Improvement
The one-time Ward 5 councilmember entered 2011 as a three-in-a-row loser for elected office in D.C. He’s ending the year in a lot better shape. Orange won a special election in April for an at-large council seat by capturing the support of the black voters who still decide elections; since then, he’s not only managed to stay free of any ethical taint (despite being the favorite politician of city contractors), but has somehow positioned himself as a champion of ethical government reforms. Only in the District, dear readers, would a former lobbyist for the hated local power company manage to win himself that reputation.
Which is more or less the textbook definition of a backhanded compliment. The ellipses in Orange’s campaign promo materials leave out, well, the entire item, including the sardonic wonder at the fact that he’s somehow managed to claim the mantle of ethics.
We’ve emailed Orange to ask why he’s taking such liberties with ellipses, and will update if we hear back. (Full disclosure: We learned about the campaign’s quote from this blog post on Park View D.C., which noted that challenger Sekou Biddle used the literature against Orange in a forum this week.)