Thursday, November 6, 2008

Alaska First

This is a great moment in history. Why? Because equality of opportunity suddenly feels like a promise America can keep? Because in a difficult time that calls for real leadership, Barack Obama is smart, decisive and confident enough to listen, one of those rare leaders who actually knows what he doesn't know and is willing and able to learn quickly but with some real depth? Because change might be more than a campaign slogan thanks to some technically savvy organizing and fundraising that allowed the President-elect to keep one foot out of the special interest quagmire of quid pro quo contributions and cronyism that kills fresh ideas still born?

No (hey As Good As News is still a comedy blog), this is a great moment because Alaska, home to the Anchorage Anchor - Sarah Palin - has become the first State to elect a convicted felon to the United States Senate. (OK, we know the early ballots are still being counted and FiveThirtyEight is leaning blue - all the more reason to seize the moment, no other felon has come this close.) Alaska is remarkably low on qualified candidates for high office, explaining both Sarah Palin and Senator Teddy Topbunk Stevens. Steven's re-election raises some exciting questions. Will the Senate overturn the will of the Alaskan people (and caribou, reindeer and whatever else is voting in this Northern nuthouse) and refuse to seat Stevens even though he was re-elected after he was found guilty - guilty of accepting, and not reporting as a gift, home improvements for which he paid only a fraction of the cost? Will Stevens become the first Senator to vote via video phone, or maybe get prison leave so he can hit the Senate floor sporting the latest in wrist and ankle wear accompanied by a heavily armed posse of correctional officers?
In Steven's defense - if my own home improvement contractor had given me a bill for one-third of the actual price (which was stupendous in comparison not only to the estimate we received but to the gross national product of Turkmenistan), I would surely have paid it without even realizing I was getting a discount. If only Stevens had presented the jury with the "contractor run amok - who knew" defense, he would be a free man today.

Maybe Todd Palin has a point. This Alaska secession thing could work for everybody. Just remember, Todd, the oil is on Federal land, all bought and paid for by us, the American taxpayers, as part of Seward's folly. So take Alaska out of the Union, make your wife Prime Minister -she'll feel like she's on an equal footing when she's hobnobbing with her neighbor Putin and the real Sarkozy and all the other Prime Ministers are wearing those chic outfits from Neiman Marcus. Just don't forget to send the royalty checks for the oil and gas.

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