Rep. Norm Dicks stopped by the News Tribune editorial board this morning and demonstrated his mastery of a wide variety of topics: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Medicare reimbursement rates, weapons systems updates, earmarks reform, etc. But if you really want him to light up, ask him about his latest fishing trip.
Sure, the 17-term Democrat is proud of his recent ascension to the chairmanship of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. But he talked longer about his impressive showing in last month’s Anacortes Salmon Derby. Dicks was leading the fleet at one point after landing a 17.10 lb. blackmouth chinook. Ultimately, he finished out of the money in 11th place. (The winner was Ralph Thomas of Tacoma with a 27.48 lb. beauty.) Note: Dicks was quick to point out that these were not threatened species, but hatchery salmon, easily identified by their clipped adipose fin.
When pressed about his angling technique, however, Dick grew slightly defensive. “I am a life-long moocher,” he proclaimed, “but up in the San Juan Islands you have to use a downrigger.” This admission could prove a serious liability among some voters in Dicks’ 6th District, who prefer the hands-on art of mooching with a line, sinker and herring to dragging a line down behind the boat and popping a beer. (Hell, you might as well just throw dynamite in the water.)
Fishing buddy Tony Floor confirms Dicks’ account. “Yes sir, if it was his boat, he would have been mooching,” Floor wrote in an e-mail. “However, the boat he was on (Larry Carpenter) is a die-hard downrigger angler.”
If you don’t learn anything else from three decades in Congress, it’s that sometimes you can compromise a little without giving up your core beliefs.