Well, I’m pretty sure he was at our editorial board meeting this week.
His name is Thomas Slade Gorton III.
Gorton — among other things — is a former Republican U.S. senator from our state. And I’m telling ya, he was indeed one of the most fascinating guys I’ve met.
Look, whether or not you agree with him — and there’s a bunch I disagree with him on — this guy held my attention every minute. That is rarely the case with any politician who has talking points and sticks to them.
This 88-year-old Chicago native is as sharp as they come. For example, I asked him this:
“I’m going to give you a number and I don’t know if you’ll remember it. The number is 2,229.”
He never hesitated.
“Yes, that’s the margin by which I lost to Cantwell.”
Correct! Gorton lost his last political race in 2000 when Democrat Maria Cantwell beat him by that slim margin. She continues as a senator.
I mean, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, and this guy remembers that number?
So yes, this guy is bright and sharp and extremely knowledgeable. And with those attributes, he can throw down with the best of them.
Now it should be noted — again — that he’s a Republican. So when he speaks about Democrats, we always should keep that in mind.
For example, he’s not a big fan of Hillary Clinton.
“She’s never accomplished anything. She has almost no regard for the truth. Other than that, she’s a fine person.”
But he’s also not a fan of Donald Trump.
“I think he’s a lethal combination of ignorance and arrogance.”
In the end, Gorton said he wouldn’t be voting for Clinton … or Trump.
He hit on an array of other topics, including superdelegates (he enthusiastically supports that process to help decide presidential candidates), his dislike of gambling (he goes to the race track only once a year and loses $20 on the ponies – that’s it.) And today’s set-in-stone Congress (everyone has moved away from the center).
But I wanted to engage him some on newspapers.
Like me, he’s old, so he’s also old school when it comes to newspapers. And by that, I mean he reads them.
It’s no secret that newspapers have been struggling for the last several decades.
Some say it’s because we’re perceived as too liberal. Others believe we’re too conservative. Truth is, it’s the Internet. It has created a classic case of disruptive innovation for us. The result has been a financial free fall. And a huge loss of journalists. There were more than 50,000 full-time journalists back in 1990. Now the number is hovering around 30,000.
For Gorton, he’s not a fan of “The Gray Lady,” the country’s newspaper of record.
“I don’t think the New York Times is worth using as toilet paper.”
And in general, he feels newspapers lean liberal.
“Taken as a whole, I think newspapers in the United States are well to the left of the American people.”
Still, he believes strongly in newspapers.
“Do you believe the country would be better or worse off if they disappeared?” I asked.
“Oh, we’d be worse off. There’s no question about that,” Gorton said. “Personally, I regard them as a necessity. I get my news by reading it.”
Yep, this gentleman still has it all going on. Are you listening, Dos Equis?