Wednesday, August 27, 2008
A 92 Year Old Mother
Many aspects of the recently concluded campaign will stay with me forever and here is an example.
While walking back to my office after what I thought was a very good radio interview, a 92 year old lady called me. I used my cell phone as the campaign telephone and voters called me to find out what I thought about certain issues. Most callers were surprised that I answered my own phone; but I was happy they called and happy to talk to them.
The calls usually started out this way, "I am a voter trying to decide who to vote for and wanted to ask you a few questions." Today's call started the same way.
She said, "Do you favor the death penalty?"
This is a question that I prefer not to answer because in Washington the death penalty is well supported by the voters, and I am personally morally and philosophically opposed to capital punishment. I believe we diminish our humanity when we choose death, and when we make choices we should choose life.
I told the caller, "Ma'am the death penalty is the law of this state and it is clearly consitutional."
She said, "But you haven't answered my question." And I could tell that this 92 year old lady was not going to let me off easy.
So I replied, "But my personal opinion is totally irrelevant because my job as a judge would be to apply the law and Constitution as written by others and not impose my personal opinions as to what the law ought to be."
She said, "Well why are there so many people on death row who have not yet been executed, this is unacceptable!" Seeing an escape door, I said, "You can probably blame the federal judges for that."
With the more conservative callers, like this lady, I would emphasize my Marine Corps experience, and I mentioned it to her when she said she wanted to know more about me.
She said, "I had seven children." I said, "That is terrific, we have two."
She said, "One of my sons was a Marine, and he was 19 years old in 1968 when he was killed in Vietnam." And then she began to cry.
So there I am standing on a sunny street in Seattle, proud of my radio appearance and happy to get this lady's call, when her grief over what happened to her 40 years ago suddenly poured into my ear and directly to my heart.