Gorton story a disappointment

  Dear HCN,

As a former 18-year resident of Washington state (1982-2000), journalist and participant in politics there, I found Steve Stuebner's article on Slade Gorton a disappointing concoction of free advertising for tribal and environmental biases.

The article had its moments in viewing a tight race for the Senate, featuring a strong Democratic candidate who is intelligent and savvy. She may win. The coalition of anti-Gorton interests will make the contest interesting, and there was a shade of balance in the discussion of the senator's initiatives on tribal issues. Gorton has asked for their enmity, and now he has a basket-full on his doorstep. (The same positions have also gained support for Gorton.) Such is politics.

Unfortunately, the writer displays an error-prone understanding of Washington state (it is Ron Sims, not Simms, and he was a county councilman in 1994, not a city councilman; the Elwha dams were purchased from Daishowa paper company, not Fort James), and an unnerving lack of factual information about Gorton's committee work. (Gorton is sixth in Republican seniority on the Appropriations Committee, not the senior Republican. There is no Appropriations subcommittee on Indian Affairs. Gorton is a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs, but not chair. He is, as stated, chair of the Interior Subcommittee.) How can you believe the assessment of Gorton's impact if the writer can't put him in the correct seats?

Stuebner has delivered, to a sympathetic audience, a forum for Indian and Sierra Club political trash-talk, not an assessment of an important Western Senate race. Would you expect Sierra and the preponderance of tribes to be on Gorton's team? Once their positions have been stated, the point is made. (To his credit, Stuebner found environmentalists and Indians who have not joined the bash-Slade movement.) However, in response to Gorton's refusal to be questioned, the writer chose to penalize the senator by repeating the opponents' complaints. This article needed an editor.

Robert E. Hartley
Westminster, Colorado

The writer is a former publisher of the Journal-American in Bellevue, Washington.

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