Stevens and Begich on Palin. Two Bad Answers. One Hot Shower.

31 10 2008

I listened to the Senatorial debate last night, and expected that most of the questions and answers I’d heard before.  But Stevens’ recent conviction, I thought, might engender some interesting conversation.  The thing I didn’t expect was the two candidates’ take on Sarah Palin.

Remember, Sarah Palin, who launched her political career at the feet of Ted Stevens, and served as the Director of his 527 group “Excellence in Public Service, Inc” which could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors, has recently turned on her former mentor.  At first she was lukewarm in her condemnation suggesting that he “do the right thing.”  But 24 hours later, after her running-mate asked him to step down, Palin fell in line.  Lisa Murkowski, Alaska’s other Type-A red-suited political woman of power, and Junior Senator for the state, is standing by her man.  She was even one of the speakers at Ted’s recent Welcome Home rally, urging Alaskans to vote for Stevens and give him a “hero’s welcome.”  And our other congressional delegate, Representative Don Young is saying that Ted didn’t get a fair trial.  So, although Palin fell in line with national Republicans, she went out on a Republican limb in the state of Alaska when she threw Stevens under the bus.

Apparently Stevens didn’t get the memo.  After endorsing her candidacy, and waiting unsuccessfully for Palin’s endorsement of his senate campaign, he had this to say about whether he thought she was qualified to be Vice President:

Tracy (moderator): Is Gov. Palin qualified, sir, as president?

Stevens: Yes she is. Yes she is. I think she is. She’s had experience as a mayor. She’s had experience, really, as a governor. And she is what I think the American women have sought for a long time, she’s another candidate for a presence of a woman in our national leadership. So I think she’s qualified and I think our people would like to see her become president… vice president.

I’d like to see her become president, as a matter of fact.

So, she’s qualified to be President of the United States because she’s had “experience as a mayor”, “experience, really, as a governor” and she is a “candidate for a presence of a woman in our national leadership.”  After a few moments of stunned silence, I started thinking about why Stevens said that.  To quote Dr. Seuss, “And I puzzled and puzzled, til my puzzler was sore.”

The only answer is that Stevens isn’t taking it personally.  He knows that Palin had no option with the national Republicans, and he’s willing to take one on the chin and still support his party.  He’s been around the block enough times in 40 years to know she’s not even close to being qualified.  But what’s the alternative – say she’s not qualified and risk his endorsement being the thing that makes Alaska go blue in the Presidential race?  He’d never live it down.  He’s a Republican through and through, even from the pavement under the bus, and even if it means Palin being President of the United States. 

Mark Begich had the opportunity to answer the same question.  Actually he had an opportunity before Stevens did.  Here’s how it went.

Moderator John Tracy: If elected, and if it becomes necessary, is Gov. Sarah Palin qualified to serve as president of the United States?

Begich: I’ve answered this question a lot of times. And my view is, the voters are going to make that decision. If she wins her election as the vice presidential nominee, as she is now, wins as vice president, come Nov. 4, that tells us she’s qualified.

Tracy: I’m going to come back. Sen. Stevens?

Stevens: Well I don’t understand your question in relation to his answer.

Tracy: Yeah, well I said I’m going to come back. But I’m going to give you a chance first.

You saw Stevens’ response above.  After he had his say (and left me slackjawed for a minute), Tracy came back to Begich.

Tracy: Mr. Mayor, I’m going to insist on a yes or no answer.

Begich: Well John, on this one I think, again, the voters are going to make this decision. I think she has proven that she has some strong mettle out there. She’s been out there on the campaign trail. I think that the issue that I have not heard a lot about is where she stands on a lot of foreign policy issues, domestic policy.

I’ve heard her repeat more of the McCain line, but I’m interested in what she’s about. I’ve seen some interviews with her, but they’re not in depth and so I can’t judge that at this point. What I can tell you is, she has made the nomination. She will be there on the ticket on Nov. 4. If she wins, I guarantee you that she’s going to have to be ready.
… Your theory there is something’s going to happen to Sen. John McCain if he’s president.

Carey: It’s not my theory. I simply asked you if you thought she was qualified to be president.

Begich: The President. Well, she’s running for vice president, and she’s on the ticket.

That was Mark Begich’s 162 word response to a yes or no question.  Now, I like Mark Begich, and I’m going to vote for him.  But, he’s not doing himself any favors with answers like this.  Mark Begich can’t really come out and say Palin is an incompetent and unqualified candidate in a state where 62% of the population still thinks she’s doing a good job.  And he can’t do what Stevens did and say she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread because everyone who works for him, campaigns for him, or is related to him would never speak to him again.   I get it.

But there were two appropriate answers to the question that would have done the job, and kept him from looking like a Class A weasel.

Answer #1:  You know John, I have to admit that I have some concerns, and I’m not the only one.  Many prominent national leaders from both sides of the aisle have concerns.  It shows we’re thinking, and it shows we care.  However, anyone who lives in Alaska knows that Sarah Palin is a determined, confident and talented person who has risen to challenges before.  CAN she do it?  I don’t have a crystal ball, but I remain hopeful that this would be a challenge she would navigate successfully if she were put in that position.

Answer #2:  (Holds up hand, palm out, laughing)  John, I’m not touching this one with a 10-foot pole! 

Either one of those approaches would have been better, in my humble opinion.  But Alaskans are tired of lying and partisanship (Stevens), and they’re also tired of tap dancing and non-answers (Begich).

There are no easy answers in Alaska politics, and sometimes the muck gets deep fast, both for those running for office, and for the rest of us trying to figure those people out.  So I’m going to take off these muddy boots, and get out of these wet things, and go take a nice hot shower.

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements




Interesting Show With Breaking News Today on KUDO 1080am.

31 10 2008

There is some interesting news regarding Troopergate fallout coming momentarily on KUDO! CC’s show starts in just a few minutes.

You can stream it live HERE.

Highlights:

*Sarah Palin claims that her first amendment rights are threatened because the media is criticizing what she is saying on the campaign trail. Interesting claim that the freedom of the press to ask questions of politicians infringes the first amendment rights of the politicians… (head is spinning)

*Ted Stevens claimed last night during the Senatorial debate that he “hadn’t been convicted of anything.” Attorney Meg Simonian explains that under sentencing guidelines, Stevens’ continued denial of responsibility for his actions could serve to increase his sentence.

*Juror #4, the one who left the Ted Stevens trial to attend her father’s funeral, is summoned back to D.C. to explain her actions. She was not able to be contacted at the appointed time to discuss if she would be able to return to the trial last Monday.

*Palin has waived her confidentiality in the Personnel Board investigation, to allow public scrutiny. However, the other members of her staff who are being investigated have not. Therefore nothing is being released to the public. There are no guidelines in existence to determine what happens when a group is being investigated, and only one member has waived this right.

The question is, WHY has her staff refused to waive confidentiality. Palin, up until the point she was tapped to be the VP nominee told her staff to cooperate with any and all investigations. We’ve been given no explanation as to why the staff isn’t waiving this right.

It’s possible that this is, of course, a big PR move so Palin can appear to want open, honest process while knowing all the while she wouldn’t be accountable because of her uncooperative staff.

BREAKING NEWS – PRESS RELEASE CALLS FOR APOLOGY FROM THE McCAIN CAMPAIGN

BIPARTISAN CALL ON McCAIN CAMPAIGN FOR APOLOGY

TO FORMER ALASKA PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER

Campaign Attacks Career Law Enforcement Office Called “Unconscionable”

ANCHORAGE – Today a bipartisan call was made on the McCain Campaign for an apology to former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. The bi-partisan call was made by former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Gail Phillips and former Senate President Chancy Croft. Both legislators expressed dismay at the negative characterizations made by McCain’s campaign staff that traveled to Alaska in September and October in an unsuccessful attempt to derail the Legislature’s bi-partisan “Troopergate” investigation. That investigation resulted in a report that was released, on a unanimous vote of the Alaska Legislature’s Legislative Council, on October 10, 2008.

Mr. Monegan, as conceded by Governor Palin in hiring him for the position, earned great respect throughout Alaska for his dedicated law enforcement work.

Former Speaker Phillips offered the following statement about Mr. Monegan, a former U.S. Marine, widely-respected career police officer, Anchorage Police Chief and State Public Safety Commissioner” “It’s unconscionable that an outside campaign organization which had no knowledge of the history, background or understanding of an Alaskan issue would come to our State to destroy the reputation and life of a dedicated Alaskan public servant, Walt Monegan. Senator McCain’s attempt to insert his campaign into action taken by the Alaska Legislature was wrong and poorly thought out.”

Former President Croft noted “Walt’s good reputation has become a casualty because of people who never met him, don’t live in Alaska and who valued political attack over honor. Gail and I are speaking for thousands of Alaskans of all political loyalties and we would like to help Walt get back his earned reputation for honesty and dedicated public service.”





The Veco Corruption Scandal. Who’s Next?

31 10 2008

New information and new names have surfaced in the Veco corruption scandal, that has been rocking Alaska’s political world for the past two years.  Bill Allen, former CEO of Veco Corp. made a deal to trade all the dirt in exchange for immunity for his son Mark, and others relatives involved in the scandal.  He had lots to tell.  Former lawmakers are in prison, and more are on the way.  The biggest fish ensnared in the net so far, of course, has been Senior Senator Ted Stevens, now convicted on seven felony counts.  But the FBI isn’t finished yet.

Newly filed court documents outline the extent of Allen’s initial revelations to the FBI, including his interactions with public figures that haven’t previously been reported — and who haven’t been charged.

In his first interview, the same day he learned of the investigation, Allen told the FBI about financial favors sought by and given to politicians.

Land deals were made, lawyers were hired, gas tanks were filled, floors were refinished, cash exchanged hands, pigs were roasted.

The new documents — summaries of Allen’s initial interview with the FBI and a subsequent interview — were filed earlier this month during the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in Washington, D.C. The summaries were attached to motions filed by Stevens’ lawyers. The summaries recount what Allen told investigators, and make no attempt to verify his assertions.

The first interview occurred on Aug. 30, 2006, after agents brought Allen into FBI headquarters in downtown Anchorage and he agreed to cooperate. The broad, multi-faceted investigation into Alaska corruption wouldn’t become public knowledge until the next day, when federal agents swarmed legislative offices with search warrants. The FBI had been monitoring Allen’s phone calls for months.

Allen pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy in May 2007.

One of the conclusions reached by Allen, was that Rep. Don Young, who is currently running for re-election against Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz, “couldn’t be bought.”  Interesting, considering that after the investigation of Allen began, Young tried to reimburse Allen for more than $37,000 in pig roast expenses for Youn’s annual fundraiser.  Yes, folks, the King of Pork had an annual pig roast fundraiser, paid for by an oil service company.  Perhaps they should have hired a skywriter to surmount the event with the words “INVESTIGATE ME!”   When Allen didn’t cash this belated reimbursement check, Young sent it directly to the U.S. Treasury.  Then he got out a “wet wipe” and tried to get all that pig money off his hands.

Don Young has spent well over a million dollars in campaign money on legal fees….and he hasn’t even been indicted yet.

The other notable name mentioned in the new paperwork is Ben Stevens, son of Ted Stevens.  I remember breaking the news to a couple people when Ted Stevens was indicted.  The response from each person was, “Wait….TED Stevens or BEN Stevens??”  Everybody was expecting Ben would be first.  There’s a lot to cover with Ben, but these documents talk about the fact that Ben was getting paid for a lucrative “consulting” position, even when he wasn’t “consulting.”

Bill Allen told Ben Stevens (president of the State Senate at the time), when he needed money, to bill Veco $10,000 a month.  Stevens stopped sending invoices after his Senate offices were raided.  Go figure.

Think of all this as “scenes from next week” in the never-ending saga of Alaska political corruption.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine





Bed Time in Alaska – Open Thread

31 10 2008

On my way to work yesterday, I noticed an Obama-Biden yard sign I hadn’t seen before. It seemed strange that it was stuck there in a snow bank on the side of the road, because there was no particular house associated with that piece of land. As I got closer, I realized that someone had used a black Sharpie to put an “N” in front of Obama, and also had put a red diagonal line through the O. I pulled over, of course, yanked the sign and stuck it in the trunk. I thought about all the people that have been losing yard signs, and it made me mad that this one got destroyed.

Then, this morning, I found out that Spouse had been very clever, and using rubbing alcohol had managed to remove all traces of marker from the sign! It was as good as new! I wish I knew where it had come from, but since I didn’t….I now have an Obama yard sign! It has survived its first 24 hours without incident, I am happy to report.

So for all of you lamenting the loss of yard signs, maybe…just maybe…it’s in my yard!

Here’s a fun daily summary from TPMMuckraker. 5 days to go! Night all!