The Breakfast Table

Local Heroes, Local Jerks


Sen. Slade Gorton would be asking for trouble if he had a real Democratic challenger in 2000. He does not. His only competition is a feisty female insurance commissioner, a Democrat disliked by Democrats and Republicans. She’s going to be like a bug on our senior senator’s windshield. Splat. Gorton votes the way he does on guns because he can get away with it.

President Clinton was in town last week to raise money for Democrats and Al Gore. I suspect he had another mission: to beg our popular governor, Gary Locke, the nation’s first Chinese-American governor, or our popular King County Executive Ron Sims, to run against Gorton.

So far both Democrats say who needs it? Honest, some politicians here are so smug and leery of Washington-to-Washington red-eye flights that they would rather stay and work in local and state government.

None of the above fits your question: Who is the biggest jerk we’ve ever interviewed? No, I wasn’t ducking you. But these things are competitive. If all politics are local, so are the jerks.

One of my favorite editorial-board guests was the former Seattle School Superintendent John Stanford, who died of leukemia last fall. This isn’t some boring local bureaucrat. Stanford was a commanding presence, a tall two-star Army general who turned Seattle schools around. It was enough for my husband and me to take our daughter out of private school and send her to a public middle school. Stanford was an old friend of Colin Powell’s, a logistics expert in Desert Storm. He lit up the room with his challenging ideas.

When presidential hopeful Bill Bradley came to town, he patronized us editorial writers. He said he might have made Stanford U.S. secretary of education. It didn’t cost a thing to say that.

Looks like Bibi is history. Ehud Barak won comfortably. The Israelis put up with nonsense for only so long.

Do tell us first thing in the morning how your Little Leaguers fared. Are you trying to teach these 11-year-old boys to be good citizens or are you trying to win?

My husband is coaching 12-year-old girls in Little League. We have a game tonight, but the fields are drenched. (Griffey is right about the lousy weather.)

I still see my husband’s flesh pressed against the cyclone fence that separates the coach from the field, bellowing about a single that turned into a three-run homer. He was yelling something, and I don’t think it was a quote from the Little League Code of Conduct handbook.