Begich welcomed with end of an era

After the counting of absentee ballots,
Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich is offi cially
our senator-elect. I’d like to take a moment to
issue reluctant congratulations to him, and a
heartfelt farewell to Alaska’s most endearing
felon, Sen. Ted Stevens.
I’ve been fairly critical of Begich, basically
to the point of endorsing Sen. Ted Stevens for
re-election. Granted, we all knew-myself
included-that Stevens had taken advantage
of his position over the years, but the entire
affair felt much more politically motivated
than an actual search for justice.
I’m not sure that I’d classify the senator as a
full-fl edged member of the Corrupt Bastard’s
Club-the group of Alaskan legislators that
allegedly traded political allegiance for oil
company favoritism-but I don’t think there’s
any question that he has enjoyed what I’d call
“perks” of the offi ce. It’s interesting, though,
how ethical grey areas become better defi ned
in the harsh spotlight of a campaign season.
My support of Stevens was based largely
on the senator’s many years of service and
his privileged position in the senate. I also
believed that Stevens would stand a better
chance at being acquitted as a sitting senator.
After all, nothing’s illegal unless you’re
convicted and even then-if you can get it
all taken back later, you never did anything
wrong in the fi rst place.
Alaskans’ support of Stevens was
something that should have horrifi ed me. I
jeered the rest of the CBC members publicly,
but Stevens was too shrewd to be caught redhanded
by some federal stoolie.
So the federal case against Stevens came
down to failing to properly report gifts; it
was obvious that no one was going to make a
case for bribery. There was never any proof
that Stevens let Allen’s, or anyone’s, favors
infl uence him to ever vote any specifi c way.
Allen even admitted in court that not only
did he never try to bribe Stevens outright, but
that Stevens “wanted to pay for everything he
got.”
In other words, I’m not entirely sure how
this case stuck. It wouldn’t surprise me if
Stevens wins his acquittal now that his seat
is not up for grabs. It seems as if simply
following the letter of the law was not good
enough in this example. Expecting more of
Stevens sets an extremely high bar for all
politicians.
Stevens is gone now and it’s the end of an
era.
Here to usher Alaska into a progressive
new period is Mark Begich. I’ll admit, I’ve
had issues with Begich before, but I’ll set the
example by waving a white fl ag of truce. My
ethics do tend to lean left-and in that respect,
Begich should suit me fi ne.
So here’s to Alaska’s newest senator-its
fi rst Democratic senator since the year I was
born. Congratulations, Mayor Begich! You
won, just barely, over a seven time convicted
felon. The people of Alaska have spoken, and
they like you more than half a percent more
than the 85-year-old corrupt status quo.
I may sound the slightest bit sarcastic, but
in reality, I’m not all that distressed about the
direction our state has taken-we could use a
little more blue in this sea of red. So prove me
wrong, Mark- and do a phenomenal job for
us in Washington.
Now would you reconsider my friend
request on MySpace? Just don’t reconsider
photo radar-that was a horrible idea.