- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

Rep. Jim McDermott's criticism of U.S. air strikes against Afghanistan is making him the object of withering criticism on Seattle talk radio, but his staff says the stance is popular in his liberal congressional district.
"Maybe he should spend some time scraping up body parts at 'Ground Zero.' That might change his perspective," said one e-mail received by KIRO-AM host Dori Monson yesterday.
Mr. Monson also read over the phone yesterday, before going on the air, an e-mail from a McDermott constituent who vowed not to vote for the seven-term congressman next year.
But staffers in the Washington Democrat's 7th Congressional District office in Seattle say 95 percent of yesterday's calls were from constituents who backed the lawmaker's stance, up from 75 percent the day before.
"This district is pretty liberal," said Darcy Nottnagle, a staff assistant for Mr. McDermott. "Today, we were taking calls from people who are very emotional. A large number of people in Seattle are very concerned about the Afghans . They contend that in situations, where there is an eye for an eye, everyone winds up blind."
In the two-paragraph statement Mr. McDermott issued Monday, he said he is "not so sure President Bush, members of his administration, or the military have thought this action out completely or fully examined America's cause."
"I am not so sure that we have fully developed a comprehensive strategic plan. It has been less than a month since the terrorist attacks against our country. A scant four weeks to plan and implement an operation like this doesn't seem like a very long time to me. The attacks against New York and Washington, D.C., took many months, even years, to plan," he said.
Chris Vance, chairman of the Washington state Republican Party, is perplexed by the conflicting information provided by Mr. Monson and Mr. McDermott's staff.
"You could take a poll in Seattle and would find that support for the war is lower here than in the rest of the country," Mr. Vance said. But he called Mr. McDermott's remarks "completely out of step" and said he does not believe support for the congressman is as strong as his staffers say.
"It could mean only liberal activists are taking the time to call," he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Although Mr. Vance said he does "not think it was inappropriate" to criticize the president, he described Mr. McDermott as "so hyperpartisan he couldn't help himself" and called the comments "stupid" and "nonsensical."
Nobody, including Mr. Vance, believes Mr. McDermott has hurt his re-election chances. In the last election, he had no Republican rival and won 78 percent of the vote against a Green candidate.
The district is home to the University of Washington, and many left-leaning intellectuals support his stance. Ruth Quinet, owner of the Still Life, a coffeehouse in downtown Seattle, said she and "pretty much everyone" who frequents her establishment share Mr. McDermott's position.

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