Rep. Jim McDermott wraps up his week as fill-in talk host for KIRO's Dave Ross Show today.
We were disappointed.
But we've been disappointed many times before by our elder Congressman- despite his progressiveness, despite his headline-grabbing propensity for speaking his mind to power.
We didn't really expect too much of him as a talk host- it's a profession (like that of politician) that takes special talent, training, and experience. We admire greatly those who do it well, and there was little expectation from anyone that MickDee would be carving out a new job for himself this week.
He's a rambler and a droner, and given to elongated verbal back-slaps that suit the job o' politics better than that of interviewer or radio provocateur.
No one called in to engage him, even though his very name conjures up sputtering apoplexy from the god-fearing, patriots of the right.
But listening to him blart cordially away every day has reminded us how lame Sunny Jim McDermott is as a public servant, and politician- professions he's practiced since the earth cooled.
What we know about MickDee is what the whole country knows. He went to Baghdad just before the war started and said Saddam Hussein was more trustworthy than George Bush. That got him on national TV, assailed by the right, iconized by the left, interviewed by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 911.
That's made him more citizen rockstar than citizen statesman.
He's been mired in a nasty legal kerfuffel for 8 or 9 years with now-Majority Leader John Boehner over a secretly taped conversation among Boehner, then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and other Republicans planning a Machiavellian potluck over a cell-phone. MickDee leaked it to the media, Gingrich lost his speakership and Boehner sued. MickDee at first denied it, then had memory lapses which infuriated judges, obstructed and elongated the process. He lost in the 9th circuit, but is now taking a very noble First Amendment stand that may go to the Supreme Court.
It'd have been a lot less embarrassing for Seattleites, and the work of the district might not have been stymied by partisan acrimony and ill-will, had he taken that stand and told the truth in the first place.
He did a great thing exposing Gingrich's evil machinations and getting him fired as Speaker. If he'd just 'fessed up and taken his slap on the wrist, he'd been hailed a hero. And the whole thing could have been over long ago. He's had plenty of chances to settle this; instead he's been in obfuscations and expensive legal entanglements, and a prolonged pissing match with the R's who really, really hate his guts.
Our district has suffered.
Besides the unproductive wrangling, another reason not much gets done for the Seventh is: McDermott's lazy.
While he's junketed around the world, hung out in courtrooms and with Bono, Senators Murray and Cantwell did the cookin' honey, they paid the rent. The ladies get the bacon, and worry about the roads, fixing the schools, saving the military bases, cobbling up a viaduct.
McDermott is a big picture guy, more interested in the gravy than the grits.
After 9 terms (that's 18 years) in Congress, this is all his official resume has to show for itself:
In the Congress, he is especially active in health care reform issues. He founded and chairs the Congressional Task Force on International HIV/AIDS, and introduced the AIDS Housing Opportunities Act, for special housing assistance for people with AIDS. Rep. McDermott, the co-author of Single Payer health care legislation, is leading the fight in the House of Representatives to guarantee all Americans comprehensive health care coverage.
We've been hearing about this single-payer bill of his for years, it's Jim's Big Idea. Big ticket dreams such as this need a lot more than proposing, they need bi-partisan foreplay, political shoe leather and at least a ceasefire with the opposition leadership.
But instead of the fearless innovator working hard for an important cutting edge piece of legislation that could save lives and America, we get McDermott as a right-wing piñata because of his refusal to say "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance on the House floor.
The R's wanted to get him, get even- they watched his lips, it's reported, and crucified him, putting Democrats in the difficult position of having to defend him.
It was silly, untoward, and a waste, under God, of time and political capital.
We spent some time last year talking to 1st District's Jay Inslee. Made us wish we had somebody in our district with not only the brain for big ideas, but also the energy, and the woof to get real stuff done in Washington.
Made us remember what it's like to have a congressman who inspires by example rather than by distraction. We're not embarrassed by McDermott's national headlines, but we get a little tired of him chasing those butterflies of ego on the people's time.
Democrats complain that McDermott does best by staying away from candidates with hard races lest his wacky reputation rub off on them.
Representing the Seventh District is a sweet, lifetime job for a Democrat and one which lots of Democrats are rubbing their hands in anticipatory glee for when MickDee finally drops over or out.
Such a safe seat doesn't have to be a comfy rocking chair- it could be a firm foundation for a politician to launch great and wondrous things without having the enervating two year cycle of time and money incumbent in tighter districts.
The Seattle Times' David Postman blogged thurs that KIRO Program Director Tom Clendening said via e-mail that McDermott hasn't filed for re-election and gave KIRO a letter indicating that "at this time he is NOT a candidate for re-election."
We only wish this meant that he wouldn't be running at all, but unfortunately it only means he hasn't filed yet, and KIRO won't have to worry about equal time.
If Seattle Democrats were worth a shit, they'd quit complaining about the old husk (and they all do complain) and put up someone good in a primary against him.