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Postman on Politics

E-mail David   /  About   /  From the archive All blogs and discussions ›› David Postman has covered politics and government for The Seattle Times since 1994.

Last Build Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 07:21:31 -0800

Copyright: Copyright 2009

The new blog

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 07:21:31 -0800

The Seattle Times has a new political blog. Politics Northwest will be written by the Times political team.

I hope you all will become regular readers and commenters and help maintain the (mostly) civil tone we've had here.

This is the last thing I'll write for The Seattle Times. I also have a story in the paper today. It's about "Battle in Seattle," the new movie about the WTO protests.

I will be turning in my badge and gun cell phone today. I want to thank all most of you for helping to make Postman on Politics a success. There were many doubters when we went live in May of 2006. Some people said a blog without political opinion wouldn't work. Others said a blog that didn't allow curse words wouldn't work.

But it did work. And that's in large part a credit to those who came here each day to read and the smaller group that regularly left comments. I also appreciate the bloggers who linked to PoP as well.

It's strange to think that at the close of business tomorrow I won't be a journalist -- at least not for the next phase of my life.

I want to keep writing because when I hit "Publish" on this I'm done. But I'll resist the urge to filibuster.

Thank you all. It's been great.

Please stay tuned

Mon, 08 Sep 2008 11:01:45 -0800

I have stepped away from the blog as I figure out what I'll be doing in my final weeks at the Times. I hope by Tuesday I'll be able to tell you what the future is for the Times political blog. There'll be some changes, for sure. But I'm confident there will be a politics blog.

The McCain speech

Thu, 04 Sep 2008 20:19:27 -0800

What did you think about John McCain's speech? It seems that the talk last week about whether McCain would do as well as Obama pretty much morphed by tonight into comparisons between tonight's speech and the one delivered last night by running mate Sarah Palin.

I'm particularly interested in hearing from Republican voters who had been less than excited about McCain. And from my travels earlier this year, I think there were a lot of you out there. What do you think now? Is there some magic in that mix of McCain and Palin?

Another one bites the dust

Thu, 04 Sep 2008 14:38:52 -0800

I’m leaving The Seattle Times. I’m also leaving journalism, at least for the next phase of my career.

I am going to work for Vulcan, Inc., the company founded and led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. I will be doing media relations for the company.

It’s an exciting change for me. It’s also a huge change. I’ve been a reporter since 1982. That’s the year I left my work as a restaurant cook to be a radio reporter. The job with Vulcan is the first non-journalism job I’ve applied for since those restaurant days.

I will have more to say later. But for now, I want to thank The Seattle Times for all the great opportunities I’ve had during the past 14 years. It really has been great. The paper and I part on only the best of terms.

Palin sets high bar for McCain

Thu, 04 Sep 2008 07:42:46 -0800

Watching Sarah Palin on TV last night it sure seemed like she had won over the Republican faithful. And this morning the AP reports that she

has done in five days what John McCain has never been able to do — fire up the Republican Party's conservative base.

I thought Palin did a great job of delivering that speech. There was not even a small stumble or hesitation as she worked to introduce herself as a small town mom, burnish her credentials and eviscerate Barack Obama.

That’s a lot for anyone to cram into one speech. I think the Boston Globe has it pretty much right:

Facing concerns that she lacks the gravitas for the presidency, she chose instead to demonstrate that she has the wit, composure, and aggressiveness to be an effective vice-presidential nominee.

Continue reading...

McKenna: Rossi needs McCain to win here

Wed, 03 Sep 2008 14:47:33 -0800

Attorney General Rob McKenna is in St. Paul for the Republican National Convention. According to Bryan Bissell at politickerwa, McKenna told delegates that for gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi to win this November, John McCain and Sarah Palin need to win big.

Finally McKenna talked about the coattail effects of the McCain-Palin ticket, and suggested it had a crucial relationship to gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's chances.

"If he carries it, Dino wins," McKenna said of McCain, and urged the delegates to work hard to at least keep the presidential vote close. "If he fails to carry it by ten or twelve points, Dino doesn't win."

That’s a tall order for a Republican presidential candidate in the Everblue State. When I traveled around the state earlier this year I heard Republicans say that Rossi would have some sort of reverse coattails that would help McCain do better in Washington.

Update: McKenna's campaign spokesman Adam Faber says that McKenna's point was that McCain needs to end up within 10 points of Obama here in order for Rossi to win. And, he said the 2004 election shows that a "Republican gubernatorial candidate can run far ahead of the presidential candidate in this state. Bush lost Washington by 7.2 points that year while Rossi and Gregoire were in an absolute dead heat."

Songs to save the farm

Wed, 03 Sep 2008 08:11:16 -0800

The top-two primary last month was only the latest election initiative from the Washington State Grange. The old blanket primary was the group’s work, too. That was in 1934 when the agricultural group teamed with organized labor to push through an initiative to the Legislature.

That same year the national grange requested a song book “properly adapted to the use of Juvenile Granges and our younger members.” In 1935 this book, which I found at a local garage sale, was published:.

The book gives you a good idea of what the Grange was trying to do in the 1930s, with its songs about patriotism, God and the importance of agriculture. As Granges close down and we see farm land disappearing, its no doubt quaint - but poignant - to see these musical efforts to inculcate young Grangers.

This is the first verse to “Stay on the Farm,” by Jas. L. Orr.

Come boys, I have something to you, Come near, I would whisper it low;

You’re thinking of leaving the homestead, - Don’t be in a hurry to go.

The city has many attractions, But think of its vices and sins;

When once in the vortex of fashion, How soon our destruction begins.

Stay on the farm, boys, stay on the farm, Tho’ profits its come in rather slow.

America gettting close-up view of Alaska politics

Tue, 02 Sep 2008 13:06:33 -0800

There is a lot of chatter in the trans-continental Internet Tubes this morning about the Alaskan Independence Party and what role Gov. Sarah Palin has played with the group. The party is described as an Alaskan secessionist movement and sure comes off in most reports as a fringe group with right-wing tendencies.

Brendan Kiley - doing a bang-up job in Minneapolis - writes:

Coming from a family of southerners, I learned early on that “state’s rights” is code for opposition of integration and abortion.

But there’s no code in Alaska. The AIP is for state’s rights as in they want the state to secede from the nation. Well, they’re quick to say they really don’t want it to secede, but want a vote on that issue. And they want the federal government to give the state all the millions of acres of federal land in Alaska. And the party’s motto is “Alaska First - Alaska Always.” (John McCain’s motto is “Country First.”) AIPers may not like abortion or integration either. But that’s not what this party is about.

The former Alaskan in me was at first defensive about all the attention given the AIP and the view that it was some sort of frozen, northern nut roll. I was covering politics in Alaska in 1986 when AIP founder Joe Vogler ran for governor on the AIP ticket.

Continue reading...

Gustav hits as far north as St. Paul

Mon, 01 Sep 2008 08:42:29 -0800

The Republican National Convention will open as scheduled today. But it appears it'll be a far different sort of convention than originally planned. From Politico:

Convention planners said for the first time that they expect McCain to accept the nomination in person, in St. Paul. They had considered a remote appearance from the Gulf coast. ...

Delegations were not being asked to cancel events, but were urged to make them “appropriate” and to use them to sign up volunteers for the comfort package work on Wednesday and Thursday.

A visit by Vice President Cheney was scratched, as was a primetime appearance by President Bush, who flew to Texas to check storm preparations instead.

There's no doubt that there are public relations aspects to some of these decisions. That's not to discount the sincere, compassionate reasons as well. But now the convention will go ahead without appearances by a very unpopular president and vice president. The very "business-like" convention means that McCain does not have to compete directly with the massive crowd that watched Barack Obama accept his nomination last week.

The Obama speech

Thu, 28 Aug 2008 20:00:52 -0800

There will be much written tonight, tomorrow and in a long time to come about the speech Barack Obama just delivered in Denver. He delivered the speech flawlessly, and it was as tough as it was specific.

What did you think, though? Did Obama make a believer out of anyone? Republicans, did he answer any criticisms? Clinton backers, did he seal the deal?

Rossi makes play for Obama supporters

Thu, 28 Aug 2008 15:59:18 -0800

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi will air TV commercials tonight specially produced to appeal to viewers of Democrat Barack Obama’s acceptance of his party’s presidential nomination. In the 30 second spot, which will run only tonight, Rossi says:

Tonight the Democrats have a nominee.

I agree with him on this: Change is needed, but not just in Washington, D.C.

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Change may be the only thing the Democratic presidential candidate and the Republican gubernatorial candidate agree on. But Rossi’s been trying hard to ride the change wave in his campaign against Gov. Chris Gregoire. “Change” dwarfs the candidate’s name at

Rossi doesn’t mention John McCain, his party’s presidential candidate in his stump speech. But more and more he talks about Obama. Last week, as votes were being counted in the primary election, Rossi told TVW that he wasn’t worried about a Democratic wave sweeping him aside this year.

We don’t really believe that if they do vote for Barack Obama it is an automatic vote for Christine Gregoire because if they are looking for change, why would they vote for someone who has been in state government 40 years? … You know, one of my bigger finance folks from the campaign who has actually raised a lot of money for me is an Obama supporter. We’re going to probably have tens of thousands of people who will vote for Obama and vote for us.

This doesn't mean that Rossi backs Obama. He just told me he supports Republican candidate John McCain. And while Rossi said McCain would also bring change, that hasn't come up in the campaign so far.

Democrats of course are also trying to do everything they can to ride the Obama wave. Here’s an odd, little video from Peter Goldmark, the Democrat running for lands commissioner.

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I’m not exactly sure who these cartoon characters are supposed to be, with their, “So dude, who you votin’ for this election” and reference to “Frisbee Friday.” But they’re there to remind people to not just vote for Obama come November.

I wrote earlier about Gregoire’s worries about the same thing. The governor has also mailed flyers featuring big photos of Obama.

Rossi gets big Republican money

Thu, 28 Aug 2008 14:23:56 -0800

Two days after last week's primary, Dino Rossi got $1 million help from the Republican Governor's Association. The AP's Curt Woodward reports that the RGA set up a fundraising committee here and seeded it with a $1 million contribution.

The RGA and the Democratic Governor's Association have both now put in about $1.3 million to Rossi and Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Some Democrats hoped that Gregoire's slim lead over Rossi among primary voters would mean Republican money would dry up. That hasn't happened obviously. Now the spin will change to say the money is a sign Rossi is in trouble.

Another one bites the dust

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 17:19:43 -0800

Another political reporter is leaving the business. The Seattle Times’ Ralph Thomas gave notice today. He’s going to work for the Katz Communications Group, headed by another former Timesman, Dean Katz.

I’ve written before about other political reporters leaving. But this one is personal to me. Ralph is one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other 18 years, back to when we worked in Alaska.

We bonded those many years ago over our shared craft of legislative reporting, but also through a love of music. There was the common thread of being obsessed with Elvis Costello and 70’s funk and soul, and at least familiar enough with the Dickies to be able to sing along to “You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla.)” He understood the appeal of 1960s Ford Falcons, Plymouth Valiants and Volvo 122s.

Friends like that don’t come along very often.

For the past eight years we’ve worked next to each other in the Olympia bureau. We sit close enough that he can swing around in his chair to prop his lousy feet up on my desk. He can swish a coin into my coffee cup and hit me squarely on the temple with a ball of Play-Doh hard enough for me to see stars.

I’m sure he works plenty hard the rest of the time, but he does seem to be able to watch me closely enough that he points out the speed at which I can nervously chew through a pack of gum. He notices what I wear to work and is always the first to ridicule me for it. One day, eyeing a pink belt, he said with such disgust it still echoes in my head, “Pink? God, don’t you get enough attention?”

I can tell you this, and believe it because I’ve heard it from a long list of people including my wife: Ralph is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s also a great dancer and a great cook. He hunts game - and eats it too - and tends a large and bountiful garden. He can converse about Llama poop, Neil Young, the U.S. space program, international soccer, home-brewed beer or the tiny, tiny, details of weather patterns.

Politicians and readers should mourn Ralph’s departure. He worked as hard as anyone I know to always be fair. He got a lot of enjoyment out of finding just the right well-turned phrase or even from the studied choice of a single word in a story.

When he reads this, he’ll probably find a typo because he has a good eye for those things. But I think with his announcement today he loses the right to be so damn picky about my writing,

But he looks pretty happy doesn't he? (Photo by Richard Roesler)

Rep. Baird says anti-surge Dems "just like Bush"

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 08:37:03 -0800

Congressman Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, says that since he came out in favor of the Iraq surge no one wants to talk to him about the war. He says, according to Danny Westneat’s piece this morning, that’s because he was right and most Democrats were wrong.

"After all that extraordinary outrage directed at me, not one person has called me up and said 'Hey, Brian, it looks like you might have had a point after all,' " said Baird, in Denver for his party's national convention this week.

Here’s the money quote from Danny’s piece.

"We say Bush is so blinded by ideology that he ignores the facts in the real world, and that's true," Baird said. "Aren't we doing the same thing? We're being just like Bush."

Wow. Do you think there are many other delegates on the convention floor in Denver who would say Democrats suffer from Bush-like ideological blindness? That eats at the heart of the Democrats’ attack on Bush, John McCain and Republicans up and down the ballot.

More from Danny:

At the convention here there is very little discussion of the war, other than perfunctory calls to end it. I haven't heard much about how the security picture in Iraq has brightened so dramatically, nor any mention of the role of the controversial troop increase.

There is talk about the war in Denver, though off the floor. Darryl Holman sat in on a meeting of the Veterans and Military Families Caucus at the Democratic National Convention.

The mood in the room was not one of anger (say, the the kind of anger you get from bloggers like me who are outraged over the fraud perpetuated on our country by the Bush administration). There were no “swift boat” attacks on McCain from the panel. Rather, the mood was one of disappointment, hope for the future, and determination.

Also, Annie Wagner Slogs about an LBGT reception in Denver sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. She was able to catch a surprise visit to the luncheon by Michelle Obama.

Of course, no new policy stuff emerged here, but it was gratifying to hear Michelle Obama talk about hard policy and specific accomplishments, subjects she avoided in her headlining speech last night. She sounded very smart, and very sincere about her enthusiasm for the vague notion of “equality.” She was a hit with the gays. As soon as she finished, one member of the not-at-all-objective gay press exclaimed that he wanted Michelle to be president.

Cantwell at the convention

Tue, 26 Aug 2008 16:39:32 -0800

Here's the prepared text of Sen. Maria Cantwell's brief speech at the Democratic National Convention. She spoke as part of an event on stage with other female Democratic senators.

I'm Maria Cantwell from the state of Washington.

I'm fortunate to represent one of the most pristine and high-tech states in the nation.

We know it's time for a President that will make energy independence the top priority of the nation.

After eight years of skyrocketing gas prices; eight years of families spending more and more of their paychecks at the pump; eight years of two oil men in the White House catering to Big Oil's agenda, it's time for a new energy day in America.

One that makes energy more efficient and renewable, creating millions of high wage jobs.

One that allows hardworking families to spend more of their precious dollars raising children, instead of boosting oil company profits.

Who can we trust to deliver this? President Obama.

This November, we can't afford more of the same.

Let's elect Barack Obama. A new leader with new ideas and a vision to deliver a new energy day in America.