Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Former Justice Phil Talmadge is not a liberal

Over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Strange Bedfellows, Chris Grygiel has a post up commenting on an analysis just published by the right-wing Washington Policy Center which asserts that the Supreme Court is likely to strike down Initiative 1098 as unconstitutional if it is passed. (For those not aware, I-1098 is the one progressive initiative on our ballots this year. It would levy an income tax on high-earners, which would be dedicated to education and healthcare).

Skimming through the post, something Chris wrote caught my eye. The beginning of the fourth paragraph describes the author of the analysis — ex-Justice Phil Talmadge — as "a former Democratic state senator who is considered a liberal."

Considered a liberal... by whom?

Certainly not by people who are actually liberal. The last few times Phil Talmadge's name has come up in a conversation which I took part in was in a negative context.

A real liberal would never provide cover and credibility for a right wing think tank, or write legal opinions on behalf of big oil companies, or endorse the state Supreme Court's two most right-wing justices for reelection, or attempt to thwart the voter-approved expansion of Sound Transit's Link light rail system.

Talmadge doesn't even appear to be a loyal Democrat. Here's a disturbing tidbit from the end of a 2006 Seattle Times article about the contest to replace Party Chair Paul Berendt, who headed the Washington State Democrats for many years:
Talmadge said that until he heard from [State Senator Margarita] Prentice, being party chairman was "the last thing I would have decided to do."

He says he will begin to contact party members. But first he is waiting to hear what Gov. Christine Gregoire thinks of his candidacy.

Talmadge dropped out of the governor's race because of medical issues. He was a tough critic of Gregoire's. During his campaign, he shared opposition research on Gregoire with key allies of Gregoire's opponent, Republican Dino Rossi.

Talmadge said he asked Prentice to check with Gregoire personally to make sure the governor approved. "I wouldn't be foolish enough to do this if the head of the party in effect was someone who couldn't work with me," he said.
Emphasis is mine. Apparently Gregoire was none too happy with the idea of Talmadge heading the party, because less than seventy two hours after the above was published, Talmadge took himself out of the running.

To be fair, Talmadge was a state senator and a justice long before I became an activist, so maybe he was a liberal at one point. But he evidently did not hold firm convictions, because he's working for the other side these days. As I wrote when I reflected on Joe Miller's attack ads against Lisa Murkowski, real liberals do not expend time, talent, and treasure undermining or opposing progressive policy directions. Talmadge, unfortunately, does.

Whatever he is ideologically these days, it can't be accurately described as liberal.

POSTSCRIPT: I guess it's not a surprise that a right wing think tank that manipulates and distorts data would contend that an income tax is unconstitutional based on a bizarrely reasoned Supreme Court decision from the 1930s while failing to acknowledge or admit that Tim Eyman's I-1053 — like I-960 before it — is blatantly unconstitutional. Coincidentally, Phil Talmadge was part of the majority that struck down Tim Eyman's first unconstitutional initiative... I-695.


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