The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Joel Connelly, blogging from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, had a nugget from Seattle's strongman mayor, Greg Nickels.
Nickels recently took a trip to Spokane with his wife and was outraged at seeing one of those signs paid for by the goons at the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) to help the Dino Rossi cause: "Don't let Seattle steal this election." The sign is dumb — Seattle didn't steal an election from Dino — but it's designed to rub salt in old wounds and appeal to anti-Seattle sentiment outside the Space Needle's shadow. No one likes Goliath, after all. It's an old campaign tactic, too — former Republican Sen. Slade Gorton was notorious for demonizing Seattle in the hinterlands.
According to Connelly, here's what Nickels had to say about the sign:
"I was pissed off," he said. "We need to be one state and find common ground. ... To look at those huge signs along I-90 was very hurtful, not just to us but to the state as a whole."
Appealing for state unity is all very well, except that it's hollow coming from Nickels, who himself has bashed rural and Eastern Washington. At Seattle City Club last spring, he suggested the Seattle metro area should consider seceding from the state (or the country) with who-needs-you-guys rhetoric he later termed a joke:
If we were a country, [our economy] would be just a little smaller than Thailand. We would be larger than Colombia, Venezuela. We are held back because our state and federal government[s] still believe our economies are driven by wheat farms and timber logging.
Nickels' hissy fit expressed frustration with Olympia and the rest of the state for not understanding Seattle's superiority and centrality. And while the mayor was speaking for effect — it was a kind of howl of frustration from a ham-strung strongman — his tantrum certainly set back Cascade Curtain relations. Almost every major daily in the state editorialized against Nickels for being divisive and dismissive of the contributions they make to the state's economy. In fact, Nickels' joke undercut his previous rhetoric on the topic and simply underscored that Seattle is arrogant, out of touch, and self-serving. Said the Spokane Spokesman-Review:
Over the years, frustrated residents of Eastern Washington and North Idaho have sometimes called for secession, and we've tried to point out what a dumb idea that would be. We never expected it would be necessary to say the same to the statesman who wrote, six years ago: "We can eradicate the 'Cascade divide' and nurture instead 'One Washington.'"
People outside of Seattle believe that Greg Nickels' "One Washington" would be ruled by Seattle. That's a reason the stupid tactics of the BIAW resonate with many people, and it's thanks to statements like his that folks have had their worst suspicions us confirmed. If Nickels is "pissed off," he ought to ask people outside Seattle what they think about "the Seattle way."