Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Illegitimate Senator?

With the news that the Department of Justice is asking a Federal trial court in Washington to void the convictions of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, a Reagan-era quotation comes to mind:
"Which office do I go to to get my reputation back."

--- Former Labor Secretary Ray Donovan, upon his acquittal on corruption charges.
Now, this decision by Attorney General Eric Holder isn't the same as an acquittal, which still only means that the government's case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But it certainly calls into question the results of the senatorial election conducted last year in Alaska, in which former Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich defeated Stevens in a close race (less than 4000 votes). The vote was held just days after Stevens' convictions.

Was this the thing that made the difference? Ask any Alaskan (I know quite a few) and the answer is, "Almost certainly."

Of course, one has to wonder, in this extraordinary situation, whether Mark Begich would have the dignity and decency to resign his seat, and allow a special election, re-running his race against Stevens, without the cloud which heretofore surrounded Stevens?

Naaaah! He's a Democrat! Power at all costs.

Even if that cost is your dignity and your soul.

Nevertheless, if Begich had any decency, that is the course that he would follow. And you can bet that, were the roles reversed, far Lefties would be demanding that course.

UPDATE: Apparently, some Alaska political leaders agree. Not surprisingly, they are Republicans. It seems that all involved --- former Senator Stevens; Alaska's voters; the courts charged with administering justice; the American public which is supposed to be served by the Department of Justice --- deserved better.

Whatever happens now, Democrat Senator Mark Begich has to be at the top of any list of "Most-Endangered" Democrats when his term is up.


Doug said...

Do you really want the father of the Bridge To Nowhere back in the Senate ?

James Young said...

Well, that's a legitimate question, Doug, from a political perspective, but I'm trying to apply an at-least-arguably objective standard here regarding electoral integrity.

From a political perspective, I prefer Republicans, and I suspect that Stevens is much more valuable in the minority than in a GOP majority. If he's the difference between stopping things like socialized medicine and card-check --- and he potentially is --- I suspect you would agree.

Doug said...

My general support for term limits led me to conclude that Stevens, along with many others, should have been out of there a long time ago. He amassed too much power, which he used to divert money to his state. That may not be corruption in the legal sense of the word, but it certainly is corruption in the political sense and, generally, Republicans don't do themselves any favors by letting guys like him stick around.

James Young said...

I go back and forth on term limits, though I certainly agree with your other comments. Of course, we are probably in accord on the proposition that there is too much power in Washington generally.

I thing where we differ is on the tactical question of the necessity of maintaining the short-term ability to stop bad things vs. the long-term ability to effect substantive --- here's a word you'll love --- "change."