Mark Griswold launched this blog on April 21, 2012 with the title of “Keep It Simple, Senator“. Its name was changed on April 26, 2014 to “The Political Bistro” to reflect its association with the start of the eponymous radio show on Seattle’s AM 1590 The Answer, which ran through November 2015.
Many posts pre-date the “start” of this blog and include things Mark wrote for other blogs, including SoundPolitics.com, where he was a major contributor from 2005-2008; articles he wrote for Seattle University’s campus newspaper, the Spectator; papers he wrote in high school and college; and other prose, poems and songs he wrote when the mood struck him.
When reading some of these older posts, please keep in mind that his views on some things (not to mention the quality of his writing) may have changed slightly or even drastically. (As Churchill is erroneously quoted as saying “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”) Some of what has been posted has been edited for grammar and readability. However, the content has not changed. Editorial notes appear at the beginning of some posts with further explanation. All posts were written by Mark Griswold unless otherwise noted.
About the Radio Show/Podcast
Each evening, you are greeted at the door by your Maitre d’, Mark Griswold. As he guides you to your seat at one of the many gingham-clothed tables you admire the decor; pictures, artifacts, and souvenirs collected from around the globe as well as political paraphernalia, a large share of the latter focused on Calvin Coolidge.
The music you hear changes each time you come to the Bistro, from the sweet melodies of an Italian opera one week to the feet-tapping rhythms of Dixieland Jazz the next, to the enigmatic, where-could-that-be-from, indie-hit that could just as easily be from Argentina as Lapland.
Once seated, your server, Michelle Mendoza, comes over to tell you about that evening’s prix-fixe menu. The food always seems to compliment the music so well and is often equally exotic. One week it may be the cuisine of India; the next, food from the great American drive-in; and another, the cuisine of Italy.
You take your first bite of the delectable plate before you and, as it awakens your taste buds, you are greeted table-side by your “Boy Named Sous-Chef”, Steve Corda, dressed in black. He asks you if everything is to your liking before walking away with a little “Dean Martin, Johnny Cash Mojo Swagger” in his step, something you rarely see in a world that has given over to “uptight, pencil-neck, political-correctness”. He looks so familiar. Hadn’t you once seen him playing a Serbian gangster? Or maybe it was as a victim of Bigfoot.
He takes a seat at the next table. Seated next to him is the Maitre d’ and your server. They are a boisterous bunch, with laughter resounding amidst sweeping hand gestures and grand proclamations about “solving the world’s problems in four courses”. They notice your interest as you strain to hear what they are saying over the din of conversation and the clatter of silverware of the other diners and they soon wave you over to join them at one of the open seats at their table.
You are immediately taken in by their conversation. It spans from discussions about things that have happened and the accomplishments and idiosyncrasies of the luminaries and leaders who have celebrated their birthdays on “this day in history”, to fun and not-so-fun facts about the region of the world that is serving as the backdrop of this particular evening. And Steve always takes a moment to reflect on “The Spice of the Week”, a little tidbit of philosophy that, “tasted”, makes the world a better place.
Every so often, the music seems to crescendo and the group disappears back into the kitchen for a brief moment only to reemerge with the evening’s next course. As you continue to enjoy the food before you, the conversation one evening may turn to the great philosophies that guide our culture, Mark often exclaiming that the answer to almost any of the problems facing us, is to “keep it simple, Senator!” and put our faith in the family and in God. On another evening, it may turn to world events ripped from the headlines or obscure but surprisingly important legislation making its way through Congress.
What a delight! This is what dinner conversation should be! As your fork cuts into your pâté or you tear off another piece of naan, you look up to see another diner joining you. One week it might be a movie star from the Golden-Age of Hollywood, another it may be a local politician, the world’s most published historian, or a charity doing great work in the community. And every week, no matter who the special guest, they’re sure to be interesting.
Only an hour has gone by. So quickly the time has passed. You hate to leave. Yet, you have experienced so much! You can’t wait until next time to join the conversation once again, here, at The Political Bistro.
Raised largely by his grandparents, politics, philosophy, religion, and history was regularly discussed around the dinner table. His late grandfather, Jack, always had the World Book Encyclopedia close at hand to answer any obscure queries (For you Millennials, this was in the days before Google); something that now makes him a great Trivial Pursuit partner.
In addition to the political influences gained from his grandparents, who could probably best be described as “Limousine Liberals”, he was also exposed to a healthy dose of Rush Limbaugh by his late father, who comes from the same mold as Michael Savage. From his mother, whose radical views would make Noam Chomsky blush (actual quote: “The Big-O [Obama] is too conservative for me.”), he was exposed to The Nation and other far-left sources. The rest came from teachers at The Bush School and Seattle University and, above all else, the Grace of God.
While politics and healthy debate were instilled in him from a young age, his real passion and involvement for it came in late 2003 when he was selected for an internship with the Washington State Legislature and then urged to run against Speaker of the House Frank Chopp in what some have called “the most liberal legislative district in the nation.” (Spoiler alert: he lost.)
Since that quixotic run, he continued his involvement in Seattle area politics; managing a handful of campaigns, serving in Republican Party leadership, and attending two Republican National Conventions. As of late, however, while he still stays somewhat involved in party politics, he has chosen to focus more on those things which transcend politics as it is usually understood, considering his mantra and guiding principle “be the change you wish to see in the world”, a quote often attributed to Gandhi.
In addition to his political involvement, he has also worked in public relations and media sales, as a DJ and radio show host, as an actor, voice-over artist and stand up comic, and most recently and most successfully, as a Realtor. (Visit his real estate website here.) He has also been active in Rotary, serving as his club’s president in 2009/10, and many other charities.
Mark also enjoys travel, having done so all over the U.S., the Caribbean, Central America, North Africa, Europe, and India; the outdoors, including camping, hiking, rock climbing, sailing, skiing and SCUBA diving and, one day, hops to get back on the golf course and tennis court.
When he’s not pursuing the above activities you can find him with three sons, Andrew, James, and Peter, and his wife, Rosie. (Actually, more correctly, when he’s not with his family, which is most of the time, you can find him pursuing the above activities.)