Midday Scan: Wednesday's top stories around the region

In the news today: McGinn gets a makeover, a Seattle author inspires a culinary bookstore, and the problem with Obama (He's not crazy enough). 

Crosscut archive image.

Mayor Mike McGinn, left, listens during a press conference that included several speakers praising the city's help on economic development. Real-estate developer Kevin Daniels talks about his plans for Pioneer Square.

In the news today: McGinn gets a makeover, a Seattle author inspires a culinary bookstore, and the problem with Obama (He's not crazy enough). 

A passion for Mike McGinn: It is the force that through the green fuse drives the mayor. As Joel Connelly reports in this morning's Seattlepi.com, Seattle's mayor is on a mission to retool his gadfly image and accentuate the positive. Connelly writes, "In the wake of August's primary vote, a concerted campaign is underway: Remake the mayor. McGinn has clearly dug a hole for himself by protracted opposition to the deep bore tunnel: Can McGinn climb out?" McGinn has recruited a coterie of political hands to help stage manage the kind of cheery, question-free press events that a candidate McGinn would have derided (dedicating the Roberto Maestas Festival Street or breaking ground on the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit). It's largely cosmetics for a serious, non-cosmetic McGinn. The mayor's new look and press-averse testiness echoes Jimmy Carter. Take note: More than thirty years ago, Jerry Rafshoon and all the king's men couldn't put Jimmy Carter back together again.

A resolute Patty Murray, the co-chair of the budget-noodling supercommittee, is acting on principle by not committing in advance to the scope of potential cuts to core social-service programs such as Medicare and Social Security. In today's Seattle Times, Kyung M. Song writes, "Liberal activists seeking to pressure Murray have been parsing her words and actions for clues — and finding little solace in her steadfast refusal to declare specific cuts in benefits or higher costs for beneficiaries off-limits." Labor and social service advocates presuppose that Washington's senior senator won't capitulate to Republican demands and will continue to champion the American safety net in her capacity as supercommittee co-chair. To drive home the message, activists insist the senator conduct a "listening session," which seems unlikely. It sounds like an oxymoron: a non-pandering politician. Perhaps it's possible for an elected official to embrace the better angels of statesmanship (we'll know once the supercommittee's work is done). 

A gem of a story by Rebekah Denn in the Christian Science Monitor celebrates the creative life and literary legacy of Seattle's Kim Ricketts. As Denn notes, "We tend to think that book-loving cities are formed through a critical mass of writers and readers. We forget about the people who bring the writers and readers together." For years Ricketts, who died in April, sponsored book events that attracted the sharpest literary minds to Seattle, mixing in heaps of food and drink. She was in the vanguard of literary shindigs well before book "events" grew trendy and often unsubstantive. And now, Denn reports, there will be an even more tangible expression of Ricketts's legacy when a culinary bookstore, The Book Larder, opens this fall. Northwest foodies take note.  

Much of the reporting on the 9/11 anniversary revolves around national issues, sidestepping local impacts. The Herald's Julie Muhlstein employs a Northwest lens to concentrate on some of the neddlesome, restrictive, and arguably questionable local effects. It's an excellent compendium of curtailed privileges (who recalls the feds wasting time on who-is-reading-what in America's public libraries?).  As Muhlstein writes, "It is another country — different from the one we lived in before Sept. 11, 2001. In addition to thousands of lives, Americans have lost a lot since the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and brought death and destruction to Pennsylvania and the Pentagon."  

Mental health and leadership are a fitting coda to today's news. In the Wall Street Journal, Nassir Ghaemi expounds on his thesis that depressives such as Churchill and Lincoln stepped up to crisis because they understood the world as it truly is. Which begs the question: Where are all the mentally ill leaders when we need them?    

Link summary

Seattlepi.com, "McGinn: Can this mayor be rescued?"

Seattle Times, "Liberal groups push Sen. Murray to avoid social program cuts"

Christian Science Monitor, "A heroine of Seattle's book community is gone--but her dream lives on"

Everett Herald, "Lives not the only toll of 9/11"

Wall Street Journal, "Depression in Command"


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson