Midday Scan: The Boeing-Machinist marriage; Obama's no Teddy; Special session blues

Boeing and the Machinists shack up; Obama falls flat as a new-age Teddy Roosevelt; Should the legislature just go home now?

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Boeing and the Machinists shack up; Obama falls flat as a new-age Teddy Roosevelt; Should the legislature just go home now?

The love-in between Boeing and the Machinists emits all the joy and disbelief of a shotgun wedding. It's inspired, sweet, and maybe just a wee concerning. Marking the union's huge pro-contract vote on Wednesday, the Seattle Times' Dominic Gates quotes one skeptical machinist, Jim Levitt. "Boeing says 'I love you, I'll marry you. But if you don't sign this prenup in seven days, I'm leaving town.'"

Regardless of the sharp-elbowed prenup, the wedding has been certified. "The vote was 74 percent in favor, sealing five years of labor peace for Boeing by extending the current Machinists contract to September 2016," Gates writes. "In that period, Boeing plans to pump out jets at unprecedented rates. Beyond that, the deal commits Boeing to build the new version of its single-aisle jet, due to enter service in 2017 — the 737 MAX — in Renton." By any measure, it's a huge win and (mostly) free of the enmity that has characterized the company's relationship with the Machinists as well as the National Labor Relations Board. Consider, for example, the fallout of the historic 1948 strike. For good reason, some weddings are put off for a long, long time.

President Obama, aping Teddy Roosevelt, will need to de-wonk his rhetoric if he hopes to emulate Roosevelt's progressivism. As Seattle's Tim Egan writes in the New York Times, regarding the president's ballyhooed address in Osawatomie, Kansas, "though Obama gave a good speech, one that framed the coming campaign as a 'make or break moment for the middle class,' he is no Teddy Roosevelt. Nor, for that matter, is the Republican party of today anything close to the one that T.R. led through nearly two terms."

After researching his 2009 book, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, Egan is steeped in all-things T.R. It's an exacting standard. "In attempting to show himself as the man who would ensure Roosevelt’s progressive legacy, Obama showed only the timidity of modern political discourse. Roosevelt’s speech was a manifesto; most of his ideas eventually became part of American life. Obama’s Osawatomie oration was a rear-guard action, defensive of a governing philosophy under fresh fire," Egan writes.

"Still, if the president can frame the election in the people-versus-the-powerful mode articulated by Roosevelt, he will win in 2012.  He will win whether he faces a candidate easily cast as a corporate tool, in Mitt Romney, or if he faces an influence peddler, a man who epitomizes what’s wrong with Washington, in Newt Gingrich."

At times gridlock, the hallmark of partisanship, can be eased by a centrist governing philosophy. Is that the M.O. of the legislature's moderate "Roadkill" caucus? (and couldn't they sub "governing" or "third way" for "roadkill?") "Members of the Legislature's Roadkill Caucus, the band of moderate Democrats that played a decisive role in last year's legislative session, are drawing the line and saying they won't vote to send a tax hike to the ballot unless the House and the Senate enact reforms first," writes Erik Smith of the Washington State Wire.

"That seems to seal the fate of this month's special session, and makes it clear that there won't be a deal on taxes before Christmas. That's because it is likely to take weeks before there is any agreement on big-picture changes to state government."

Does this reflect obstructionism or principled pressure? Either way, no one is going to be happy with a do-nothing endgame.

"State lawmakers, who kicked off a 30-day special session Nov. 28, are talking about leaving by Dec. 20 or earlier, the Seattle Times' Andrew Garber writes. "Gov. Chris Gregoire called the Legislature into session to deal with a $2 billion budget shortfall, but lawmakers have not seemed in any rush to make budget cuts, or send voters a tax package to soften the blow." There's consensus among media and lawmakers that nothing will get done. Seriously.

So, why not save the state money and skedattle tomorrow? Garber notes, "There's been little indication the Legislature will make any decision on budget cuts or revenue before adjourning. Some lawmakers have discussed the idea of pushing through a scaled-down package of cuts, but it's not clear yet if that will happen. [Ed] Murray said regardless, the special session has not been a waste because it's allowed lawmakers to get a start on drafting legislation and holding hearings well before the 2012 regular session begins Jan. 9." 

Lastly, it will feel a little anticlimactic if authorities resolve the mystery of Northwest hijacker D.B. Cooper.  "The family of a man suspected of being D.B. Cooper is waiting to see if a toothbrush could link Lynn Doyle Cooper, an Oregon resident who died in 1999, to the nation's only unsolved hijacking, Seattlepi.com's Casey McNerthney writes.

"L.D. Cooper was first identified as a person of interest this summer after the FBI tried to pull his fingerprints off a guitar strap. But even with the toothbrush possibility, the case isn't expected to be solved overnight." Thank goodness.   

Link Summary

Seattle Times, "Big Day at Boeing: Contract flies"

New York Times, "The Rough Rider and the Professor"  

Washington State Wire, "Roadkillers draw the line!"

Seattle Times, "Legislature leaning to make cuts next year"

Seattlepi.com, "Family waits on toothbrush for break in D.B. Cooper case"


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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