This sleazy scheduling fiasco is big new trouble for Diane Linn, but I already have seen enough. My breaking point occurred last year. That's when Diane Linn affected a deep personal relationship of mine: The addictive bond I have with my television. Oh, the panic that sets in when the cable company reassigns the channels, and your remote doesn’t make sense anymore. Suddenly, even black-belt, channel-flipping skills become useless, and, it seemed to be happening again this past July. How else could I be watching Multnomah Commissioner Diane Linn on what I knew to be ESPN?
Alas, my initial concerns were unfounded; the channels hadn’t changed after all. It was the press conference introducing new Blazer coach Nate McMillan to the city, and Diane was on hand to add that official Multnomah County pizzazz. She proceeded to mispronounce the new coach’s name three different times, landing him, her, and the rest of Portland onto national TV. To be fair, Nate didn’t seem to mind, and, besides, after this season he’ll probably want to go by an alias.
Still, at what point do we tire of Diane Linn’s screw-ups? They’re becoming a trademark. This latest handling of the scheduling shenanigans is just another example, but at least it's local - unlike last year on ESPN. How did she do that? If you put a team of handlers in a room and assigned them to find a way for a Multnomah County commissioner to look ridiculous on ESPN, they couldn’t pull it off. Yet Diane made it look easy. As the sports announcers would say, she’s taken her game to another level.
Local pundits will disagree on when she first exhibited this gift for gaffe, but most voters point to the snowstorm of 2004. That’s when she decided to give county workers their regular pay, even though they stayed home, assuring that those who did come in would think twice before showing that kind of dedication again. She also dished out some extra goodies to the second group and the whole self-serving stunt was supposed to be paid for by the taxpayers.
What followed was a world’s record in the number of times the word “blizzard” was used in a metaphor, and none was a blizzard of compliments. The snow coverage quickly morphed into a Diane Linn story and local observers marveled at her mighty reach. Somehow she had managed to screw up an event on the Weather Channel.
Every great artist has a masterpiece and for Diane Linn it was her intrusion into the last presidential campaign with the gay marriage debacle. Politically, it was like sending a rose-scented love letter to Karen Hughes. The Bush administration needed an issue to keep the likes of Rumsfeld and Cheney in power in 2004. These two brutes had been in a political marriage in Washington since the days of Nixon, but the spark in their relationship had gone out with the Iraq war. Rumsfeld and Cheney still made an attractive couple to most Republicans, but many Americans felt it was time for a divorce.
Suddenly, Diane Linn decided she had to issue gay marriage licenses as a matter of law, although the reason she chose this particular time, had more to do with the vast publicity states like Massachusetts were getting, than any deep interpretation of the Constitution on her part.
Indeed, gay marriage from a purely legal, non-religious standpoint appeared to be a no-brainer. If Citizen X is really attractive and lots of people want to marry Citizen X, and some can because they are one gender, but others can’t because they’re another gender, it would seem, to a lifelong viewer of Perry Mason and other courtroom shows, to be a clear violation of the equal protection clause.
At any rate, Diane and two other commissioners ignored the democratic process, shunned public discourse, and began giving out gay marriage licenses on their own. This set another record for the number of metaphors that included the phrase “rammed down our throats.”
The issue became a Karl Rove wet dream. President Bush got 4 more years, Rumsfeld and Cheney continued with their tortuous tryst, and the gay rights movement was set back by decades. Whoops!
Watching last summer's flub involving the Blazers coach, I wondered why Diane was even there. I mean, they’re not the Multnomah County Trail Blazers, are they? Why the endless intrusive grandstanding? Where did this mediocre decision-making come from? Then it hit me. Of course! Before all the political stuff, Diane Linn was a vice president at the local cable company. It was Paragon, back then, and I remember their work. As she went on giggling through her latest goof, I lifted my remote and said, “Enough!” It was time to change the channel.