Senatorial and House Debate in Anchorage

9 10 2008

It’s been a busy news week in Alaska, and I’ve yet to have time to write about this week’s Senatorial and House debates!

As we know, Ted Stevens is…otherwise occupied this week, so his debate with Mark Begich had to be filmed and shown to the crowd assembled at the University of Alaska, on screen.  The moderator was John Tracy.

I arrived a bit late, and missed the very beginning of the Begich/Stevens debate.  As I walked in the door, Ted Stevens was speaking.  I came in, walked down the aisle, looked around, found a seat, took off my coat, got out my camera, found my notepad, then had to hunt for a pen, opened the notepad, uncapped the pen, and he was still speaking….the same sentence.  All I could write on the pad was “longest run-on sentence ever uttered.”  Taking notes was to prove almost impossible.  Ted Stevens has a similar affliction as Sarah Palin.  Charlie Gibson has finally given it a name.  It’s the “Blizzard of Words” phenomenon.

All I can say is this, which I’ve plucked out of Ted’s blizzard of words.  According to Stevens: our country has absolutely no hope for the future without drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  We also need to drill offshore on the Continental Shelf.  And we need to find a way to decrease fuel costs.  We can create 20,000 jobs for every million barrels of oil we drill.  “You can’t get there (energy independence) without ANWR!” 

What is our biggest problem?  “Extreme environmentalists”  “Jimmy Carter”  and don’t forget “They opposed cutting timber too!” (uttered with horror).  His dreams for the future?  Keep kids in school. Give them hope. Drill everywhere, and “open the forests”.

When given the opportunity to ask a question of his opponent, Mark Begich, he wanted to know how he would convince those “New York California” politicians to drill drill drill!  Begich who is in favor of drilling (all Alaska politicians are), said he’d bring them up here to show them how it could be done in an environmentally conscious way. 

Begich, for his part, did very well.  He spoke in complete English sentences which could by understood by the audience.  He discussed his issues clearly and concisely.  He mentioned his website.  He did have on a little too much blush, but that wasn’t his fault.  He even held it together well when Ted Stevens told him he was “just as crazy as the devil.”

Begich got several rounds of applause during the debate.  Stevens did too, but they were more tentative…almost like the audience didn’t quite understand what he said, but they were trying to be kind.

Then we were on to 18 term Republican incumbend Don Young vs. Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz.

The questions started with the economy.  Don Young said he opposed the bail-out and had received 3800 phone calls about it.  3500 opposing, and 300 for.  He voted against.  The bail-out, he said, was a “slippery slope to socialism.”

Ethan Berkowitz said he would have been a “reluctant supporter” and stated concerns about the credit crunch affecting businesses.

Here’s the World According to Young:   All our financial woes started with Bill Clinton.  Alexander Hamilton put down the Whiskey Rebellion, and [Young] doesn’t know why he did…hahaha.  (???)  He wants to privatize social security to “let the young people invest.”  He shushed applause for Berkowitz.  He reprimanded the red warning light.  He doesn’t like Hillary Clinton.  Something else is Bill Clinton’s fault.  Most of the problems in the house are the fault of Nancy Paloosi (yes, that’s how he pronounces it).  The housing crisis was set off by energy issues because we’re not drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “Nancy Paloosi has a huge hammer and doesn’t want to burn fossil fuels because she wants to (eye roll) save the planet.”

He thinks Sarah Palin is a great candidate and it doesn’t bother him that she hasn’t endorsed him.  He doesn’t need anybody’s endorsement.  He’s “not going to do cartwheels” to get anyone’s endorsement.

He “look[s] forward to sending his first batch of earmarks to John McCain, and I dare him to veto it.”  Young loves earmarks and thinks that any member of congress who isn’t out to get lots of earmarks isn’t doing his/her job.

His question to Ethan Berkowitz?  How would you face up to Nancy Paloosi [sic] regarding energy issues and drilling?   Berkowitz responded that energy issues shouldn’t be partisan and that he would be an Alaskan congressman and represent the issues of Alaska.  Don didn’t like that answer.  “That’s just words!  You would have voted with her!”  Then looking at the audience, “He will do what she says to do!”

Hoooo.  Don Young has some major hangups with “Paloosi”.

Berkowitz was good the rest of the time.  He spoke up about alternative energy, no child left behind, hope and optimism.  When asked if he supported Palin, he responded he was supporting “Barack Obama and Tina Fey” which left out some of the AARP crowd who was hosting the debate.  He did get sporadic applause, but there was a noticeable lack of any kind of applause for Don Young.

Whichever political leanings the audience had, nobody was unsure of where the candidates stood, and no one left wondering which way to vote.