Sunday, October 19, 2008

Esquire Magazine Rates Alaska U.S. Senator Ted Stevens The 10th Worst Member Of Congress, Endorses Mark Begich And Ethan Berkowitz


Being a metrosexual venue catering to a metrosexual urban clientele, Esquire Magazine is not exactly the first name in political punditry. Nonetheless, they've chosen to take a stab at it in their latest issue. No Alaska media coverage of this story yet.

Esquire has decided to award endorsements to the candidates of their choice in all the U.S. Congresional races, as well as state gubernatorial contests. In addition, they've selected and compiled lists of the ten best and ten worst members of Congress. Both lists are relatively bi-partisan.

You can click HERE (or alternate link HERE) to view their list of ten best members of Congress. No Alaskans made the list; at the very top is California's Henry Waxman.

But what concerns us as Alaskans is the "Ten Worst" list, viewable HERE (or alternate link HERE). At number 10 is our very own U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, fighting for his liberty in a courtroom and fighting for his political life in a nip-and-tuck battle with personable and popular Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, as well as a couple of others. Here's why Esquire considers Ted Stevens the number 10 worst member of Congress:

For all its resource riches and talk of rugged individualism, Alaska is by far the welfare state of the Union, relying on Washington to support its economy more than any of the less ruggedly individualistic states. Stevens has always been Alaska's consummate pork farmer. Now, inevitably, he's under indictment for having a donor remodel his vacation "chalet" to the tune of $250,000 or so.


Here's an article from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner which provides a more complete picture of the two battles Ted Stevens is fighting now.

Esquire's superficial assessment leads me to question whether or not Stevens would even be on the list if it wasn't for the indictment and trial. Esquire says that twice as many members of Congress could have qualified for the list. But at least there is some horizontal consistency; Louisiana's Rep. William Jefferson also made the list at number six, and he's a hell of a lot dirtier than Ted Stevens. And at the very top of the list is the nauseating Joe Lieberman, whose vindictiveness and sanctimony are becoming universally despised. He makes Sarah Palin look like Ronald Reagan. And to think Lieberman was actually McCain's first choice.

Furthermore, like so many residents in the Lower 48, Esquire doesn't understand "pork". Much of Ted Stevens' "pork" is designed to compensate us for the fact that we cannot legally tax the 67 percent of state land owned by the Federal government, even though we provide some services to it. So that "pork" makes up for it in part. Furthermore, with Russia's resurging neo-Soviet imperialism, Alaska's strategic value (and military vulnerablity) escalate daily. You don't like us taking so much pork? Let us open up ANWR, then we can pay more of our own way. Quit hindering resource development by expanding the Endangered Species List. Give us more control over our land and our lives.

Now for the state endorsements. Click HERE for their list of all states, then select the state of your choice. You can view Esquire's endorsements for Alaska HERE.

U.S. SENATE: Esquire endorses Mark Begich, primarily because he's not Ted Stevens. Somewhat damning with faint praise; there's obviously more to Begich than that.

U.S. HOUSE: Esquire endorses Ethan Berkowitz. First shamed (the "Bridge to Nowhere"), then suspected (IRS and FBI investigations), in two election cycles Young's gone from party stud to party pariah. Governor and VP nominee Sarah Palin appeared with Ted Stevens just before his recent indictment to show her support. But no one likes Young. No one.

Wrong, Esquire. We don't send Don Young to Congress because he's Fred Rogers. We send him there because he's a carnivore who will rhetorically tear the hide off any member of Congress who threatens Alaska's interests. And with the prospect of an Obama Administration looming ahead, Don Young's return to Congress to hold back Nancy Pelosi with a whip and chair becomes even more imperative. Here's a much better analysis of this race from the Anchorage Daily News.

Esquire's endorsements for Alaska are interesting and even marginally useful, but clearly Esquire's knowledge of the state and its politics is superficial at best.

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