Meeting with critic proves enjoyable for columnist
To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable.
Former Sen. Barry Goldwater
Some readers were amused - others bemused - by a recent exchange of perspectives in these pages between Jeanette Burrage and myself.
Ms. Burrage, a former King County Superior Court judge and former Des Moines City Councilwoman, declared emphatically, contradictory claims notwithstanding, that I am not a conservative.
My response, sandwiched between a pair of letters from her, took unyielding exception to the suggestion that I am, instead, a liberal.
After receiving the second letter, I decided it was time the two of us met at last. Ms. Burrage graciously accepted my invitation and the two of us got together last week.
I'm glad we did. During a delightful chat, I found her to be thoughtful, likeable and nice. (So much so that I was moved to apologize for taking a "cheap shot" in my column by referring uncharitably to a comment she once made from the bench.)
As we discussed our positions, it became apparent (at least to me) that Ms. Burrage and I share far more common ground than we have disagreements.
Within this context, I quickly noted that when political contentions arise, whether across the aisle or between partisans with similar viewpoints, an open, spirited dialogue - conducted with mutual respect - must be encouraged.
(This holds especially true for those of us who write opinion columns. No columnist, after all, speaks ex cathedra. We are not prophets; we offer just one perspective - ours, not God's!)
In expressing this commitment to dialogue, I shared with Ms. Burrage the story of another exchange 25 years ago:
I published in the Idaho Press-Tribune one Sunday a column that ripped apart the Sagebrush Rebellion, a move for western states to take control of federal BLM lands.
Vern Ravenscroft, a former state senator, Republican candidate for governor and, at the time, chairman of Idaho's Sagebrush Rebellion Committee, called my office the next day.
"Vern," I exclaimed, "I had a feeling I'd be hearing from you. What did you think of my column?"
"It sounds to me like you have a burr under your saddle," he countered. "I'd like to write a response to it."
"You know me well enough to know I'm going to tell you, give me your best shot," I replied.
And he did.
Even after our "point-counterpoint," we continued to enjoy spirited exchanges of views - and even a joke or two - over coffee.
That's the way it should be, both locally and nationally, except in the most egregious of circumstances - a couple of which are at play in this year's campaigns in Highline communities.
There is no excuse whatsoever for the rabid name calling, malicious innuendo and outright distortions that, for the most part, are still beyond public view but which could surface with a vengance at any time.
And so, this reminder: we continue to watch and listen - and to track these claims, which are being weighed in the scales and found wanting.
While walking past the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center a dozen years ago, I thought, "There are scores of great stories here."
But many people don't know that great stories about advances in medical treatments are unfolding even closer to home.
Several physicians at Highline Medical Center are participating in clinical trials of new treatments for a variety of conditions and illnesses.
One such story appears in this issue of the Times/News. And soon we will report on a current study involving a promising cholesterol medication, and on new chemotherapy trials in progress at Highline Cancer Center.
Whoops! Last week's column began with a quote from economist Friedrich A. Hayek, author of The Road to Serfdom, and I misspelled both his first and last names. To those who took note, it is with a red face that I admit this slip up.
Ralph Nichols can be reached at email@example.com or 206-444-4873.