Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A tale of two rallies.

For a number of weeks there has been a Mark Begich rally scheduled to start tonight at 5:30 p.m.. Then without warning it was announced that there was another rally planned.

This one for the recently convicted Senator Ted Stevens, and coincidentally it ALSO started at 5:30. Uh oh!

What is a liberal political blogger to do?

Go and show support for Democrat Mark Begich, the man who I believe will be our next Senator? Or go to see the return of the beaten and bruised Ted Stevens?

Well of course I had to do both. First the Stevens rally.

It was the worst of times: Ted Stevens was due to arrive at the Penn Air hanger by 5:30.

In the meantime his supporters and some other political necrophiliacs milled around waving signs and waiting for the man who has been the Senator of this state for the last 40 years. Which was longer then some in attendance had even been alive.

Of course this lion of the Senate was not coming back the conquering hero, as he has so often in his political life, no this time he was returning to Alaska a convicted felon. But the crowds in that brightly lit hanger did not seem to care one little bit about that. They were their to support THEIR Senator. Music blared from the speakers, and the ambiance was quite festive. (The song of choice? Journey's "Don't stop believing". I wonder how Steve Perry would feel about that?)

Before his plane landed we were treated to an appearance by Senator Lisa Murkowski, who took the opportunity to take a couple of verbal shots at the Washington crowd and the Democrats. (Boo! Democrats are bad! Hiss!)

We also saw Ted's youngest daughter, Lily Stevens, who spoke about how proud she and the rest of the family were of their famous father. (There WAS one glaring absence however. Ted's embattled eldest son Ben Stevens was a no show. Of course he might very well be preparing for his own indictments that are certainly heading his way in the very near future.)

When Senator Stevens finally made his much anticipated appearance I was immediately struck by how tired and wan he looked. Once he mounted the tiny stage he took a few minutes to realize that he was standing next to a microphone, but once he bumped into it he grabbed it forcefully and immediately declared that he was innocent.

At that the crowd roared, and Ted seemed to brighten a little. He talked of his honesty, and reminded them that they knew him, and they had trusted him, and that he needed them to continue to support and trust him. I scanned the faces in the audience and found many that were showing clear signs of emotion and sadness. In the air was the palpable sense that this may be the last time that any of them would gather to voice their support for a man who has represented this state almost since the day it first attained statehood.

As the rally wrapped up I was surprised that I felt a little sorry for the Senator. Though politically we are worlds apart, we are still both Alaskans. Not the opportunist Alaskans that followed the oil money up here and then stayed for the lack of state taxes and the yearly dividend checks. No Ted is an OLD Alaskan. He and I were here when there were only two television stations to choose from, unreliable electricity for our homes, and only a handful of paved roads even in the biggest cities. So yes I did feel a certain sense of pain at how his career was coming to an end.

But Ted was only the victim of his own avarice and feelings of entitlement. He knew the risks and he made his decisions fully aware of the possible consequences.

The end of Senator Ted Stevens career can be blamed on only one man. And that is Senator Ted Stevens himself. So my sense of pity can extend only so far.

If Stevens had wanted to leave the Senate with his dignity intact he could have done so. But Ted thinks of himself as a fighter, and a true fighter does not leave the ring while he still has fight within him. No the only way he admits defeat is when they carry him out of the ring. Tonight I think we saw Uncle Ted being carried out. Soon he will hang up his gloves, clean out his locker, and walk into the mists of time.

It was the best of times: I arrived late for the Mark Begich rally.

The crowds had thinned out and only the most stalwart supporters and political junkies still ambled about reuniting with old friends and talking to the one lone reporter who had come to cover the event.

Mark Begich himself was shaking hands and providing his autograph for all who requested it, all while talking about his enthusiasm for the election that is now only six days away. If he had any doubts it certainly did not show.

While in the midst of a conversation about the national ticket, Mark's young son came up and grabbed his hand in an attempt to drag him over to some delightful treasure he had discovered amongst the stacks of chairs and tables in one dark corner. Mark resisted valiantly, and the boy decided to leave his dad to his boring "politics" and ran off on his own, followed by his father's words to "be careful" and "please don't touch that". This helped to remind us all that Mayor Begich is still a young man with a young man's responsibilities.

When he goes to Washington it will be as much to represent the future of that little boy as it will be to represent the state that he loves so much.

As much as Ted Stevens represents the Alaska of yesterday, Mark Begich surely represents the Alaska yet to come.

1 comment:

  1. How would Steve Perry feel about that? Fegehddabout that...How would Tony Soprano feel?!?

    Just it possible for a campaign to be so old and worn out it creaks? How many felon-lovers showed up to see Stevens, do you think? Was it a big crowd?

    538 has AK as going "likely Dem" for senate - they have Begich with an 87% chance of winning.



Don't feed the trolls!
It just goes directly to their thighs.