Bernard De Voto, the great American journalist, essayist, commentator, and curmudgeon, described his hard-to-categorize politics this way: "Politically, I am a New Dealer on Election Day and a critic of the New Deal at other times." Mossback identifies. If you substituted the word "Democrat" for "New Dealer," you'd have my voting pattern. I have been active in both parties (in different decades) and now belong to neither. The Republicans have rarely failed to disappoint (or frighten) since 1980; the Democrats are nearly hopeless and often hapless. While I can rail against the current regime with the best of them, it's the Democrats that really drive me crazy because I expect so much more.
As a lesser-of-two-evils voter, I would appreciate it if the Democrats would do their best to tone down their "evil," but some are not cooperating. Let's review recent malignant mischief that is being made by people who should know better.
"Little Liebermans": Many Democrats are disgusted with the behavior of some members of their party in both Olympia and the other Washington. On the home front, there are state Sens. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, and James Hargrove, D- Hoquiam, both of whom voted with the Republicans to kill a bill that would permit embryonic stem cell research. The two also connived with the GOP to derail another bill that would have barred discrimination due to sexual orientation. Sheldon has long been a Republican in Democrat's clothing, and Hargrove comes from a racially enlightened timber town that is vying for the title of "Selma by the Sea," so perhaps he knows something about discrimination. But their votes are aggressively antiscience and antigay and earn them the fitting title of "Little Liebermans" from Columbian Watch (columbianwatch.blogspot.com). There is no worse political epithet for a Democrat, unless it's . . .
Karl Rove's bitch: Second District U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen of Lake Stevens is the only state Democrat (and one of only 31 nationally) who voted both for the House's odious bankruptcy bill and for repealing the estate tax. That's a double whammy to favor the rich and screw the little guy—that is, unless Larsen's preparing to don a girdle of thorns and devote the rest of his life to working with Tom DeLay to pass laws against the biblical abomination called usury, a crime that makes people rich by exploiting others' weakness and desperation. I'm no Christer, but even I've heard about what Jesus did to the money changers in the Temple. And read Psalm 15. Larsen is being deservedly scorned for his votes. Democrats.com includes Larsen on a list described as Karl Rove's "bitches" in the House. What's next, Rick, helping Bush save Social Security?
Public perversion: The state's public-disclosure law has been under constant attack this legislative session in Olympia. Worse, it is being done under the guise of improving the law. I've railed against this effort (see Mossback, "Public Exposure," March 16), especially the attempt to remove massive quantities of public documents from review under an attorney-client privilege for which there is no precedent in this state. The effort to sabotage the public's right to know has bipartisan support. Last week, the Democratically controlled state Senate passed a version of a revised public-disclosure law with two amendments put forward by Democrats. "Little Lieberman" Hargrove tacked on a provision that would allow law enforcement to shield documents relating to the assessment of sex offenders. And Marilyn Rasmussen, D-Eatonville, offered an amendment that would exempt state legislators from having to cough up their correspondence and communications with the public and special interests. In other words, everyone else in state government will be exposed to sunlight, but not the vampires in the Legislature. No wonder the Seattle Post-Intelligencer called the bill an "open-records perversion."
The King County election botch: The political survival of Ron Sims is a tribute to his character and charisma, but Sims has to be the most disappointing local Democrat of the past decade. His worst political trait is to throw himself on hand grenades that ought to be allowed to explode. When Sims could have taken a leadership role in derailing Sound Transit—one of the worst local transportation boondoggles ever undertaken—he chose instead to embrace it, dooming us to decades of spending multiple billions for little gain. When he had a chance to offer an inspirational alternative to Christine Gregoire, he botched discussion of a state income tax and his campaign self-destructed. And with King County's elections department in a slow, multiyear meltdown, Sims promised to reform it. Not only hasn't he fixed the incompetence, he has positioned himself as its chief defender. He's become the poster child for the politician whose first instinct is to put bureaucracy ahead of the public interest.
Greg Nickels' way: Seattle liberals— and conservatives, for that matter—are embarrassing themselves by offering no resistance to Mayor Greg Nickels' Chicago-style political machine. Nickels is walking to re-election because no prominent local politician has the guts to go up against his henchmen, and with Nickels' promiscuous promises to every political and business interest in town, most constituencies have been bought off. Seattle symbolizes the problems of one-party rule, especially when big spenders march in lockstep with big business. What the GOP is to Washington, D.C., the Democrats are to Seattle, and the result is not enlightened government but suffocating arrogance.