Anchorage, Alaska--Perhaps Seward was wrong, but the people of Alaska have essentially spoken, and even through a jury last year: a majority of Alaskans don't want Ted Stevens to represent them on the national level anymore, and this goes beyond the narrow election results. But the will of the people aside, Stevens doesn't have many future options since former Anchorage mayor and Democrat Mark Begich legally won the election and isn't going to resign from the Senate.
There's no reason for Begich to resign. He won legally regardless.
The truth of the matter is, Ted Stevens was a guilty public servant who was over-zealously prosecuted by a Department of Justice under the control of the Republican Party via the Bush II administration. On time and on schedule, the GOP are calling for special elections and claiming incorrectly that Stevens has been cleared, but it's not going to float or catch-on with a public rightly concerned and fixated on an economy that was wrecked by the same people in many cases.
Far be it from the right to want a straw to hold onto and the ability to paint themselves as victims. The biggest problem is that this was all self-inflicted and that it took a non-partisan administration to fix the mess left behind in the Stevens case. The American Enterprise Institute had similar sentiments to say this week, and it's telling about the right's mindset of victimhood and entitlement.
...Republicans would be furious if Stevens had been prosecuted by a Democratic administration. But, inconveniently, he was prosecuted by a Republican administration. And it was a Democratic Attorney General who handsomely admitted error and dropped the case. Eric Holder may be making some decisions on political grounds, like his decision to reject the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel that the D.C. congressional voting bill is unconstitutional and accept instead the advice of the solicitor general's office that it would be defensible in court, a much lower standard. And we can criticize Holder for his conduct in connection with the Marc Rich and other Clinton pardons. But we can't say that he's a complete political hack. ... ("Former Senator Ted Stevens Deserves Praise From Alaskans, American Enterprise Institute, 04.02.2009)Correct, not a "complete political hack" like an Alberto Gonzales. And yes, there are huge parades going on this week in Alaska celebrating all of this. Didn't you notice them? Me either. And besides, Washington D.C. is predominantly African-American, and they don't tend to vote Republican...not that that has anything to do with Ted Stevens and the DOJ (DOH!), the AEI decided to drag them into it for reasons known only to themselves (since it doesn't make any sense).
No, the AEI really makes it clear that they want a fight, but cannot mount one for obvious reasons.
Additionally, this week's statements by the DOJ have not once mentioned anywhere that former Senator Stevens was cleared of any wrong-doing in the matter of bribery and making false statements to federal agents, but that the charges have been dropped. And once again, it should be reiterated that sitting Senator Mark Begich isn't going to resign. Can Stevens sue? Unlikely, and he doesn't want anyone looking into the things that he was legitimately convicted of, which are numbered in the several, and there could be more.
The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog states:
Nobody seems overly thrilled with the outcome, least of all Stevens’s attorney, Williams & Connolly’s Brendan Sullivan. “This jury verdict was obtained unlawfully,” read the statement penned by W&C. “The misconduct of government prosecutors, and one or more FBI agents, was stunning.” The statement went on to decry the “corrupt” conduct of attorneys and the FBI in the case, though it said Holder and the new prosecution team, along with Emmett Sullivan, the trial judge, were “heroes” for bringing the information to light. ("Can Ted Stevens Sue the Government...And Win?," WSJ Law Blog, 04.02.2009)Stevens also has some curious defenders in the Senate, such as the questionable Daniel Inoye (D-Hawaii) who has been tangentially connected to the Randy Cunningham/Brent Wilkes bribery scandal and straw men like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ("[H]e's already been punished enough."). Inouye has a bad habit of publicly defending his corrupt peers in Congress, but a wolf knows a wolf and the public knows it at the moment. One need only look at the approval ratings of Congress, as they haven't gone much higher since the Bush II administration left office.
The Obama administration's DOJ has made a good decision in many respects here, and it will tend to undercut most calls of partisanship when such former Bush II luminaries as Karl Rove take the stand this spring. This writer's take is that there will be many more following Mr. Rove into court, some being sent off to be housed in a federal prison.
From Dermot Cole's Oped at The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's blog:
...But the Republican party and Gov. Sarah Palin are going to have to accept that Begich was elected to a six-year term. He's not going to resign.
The "corrupt Department of Justice" is the problem, according to Randy Ruedrich, the state GOP chair.
But if the Republican Party and Palin push the call for Begich to resign, it will naturally lead to renewed debate about aspects of the Stevens investigation that were not contradicted by the flip-flops in Bill Allen's story and the evidence withheld from Stevens' lawyers. ... ("Begich is not going to resign," Newsminer.com, 04.02.2009)
That's about where it's going to rest, contrary to the cynical flip-flopping of the inimitable Governor Sarah Palin and the rest of the GOP inside and outside of Alaska who are now calling for special elections. It's not going to work when a Republican administration overzealously and incompetently attempted to prosecute a guilty man, then had the charges dropped by a new Democratic one. Stevens should feel lucky indeed.
Other defendants from the same period are either dead (by their own hand in the case of the DC Madam), desperately working to make a deal, divested of everything they own, and/or are currently sitting in a federal prison. No April Fool's there. Ted Stevens is just as guilty today as he was before April 1, 2009, but the last administration's prosecutors simply made so much of a mess of it that it's not worth pursuing, and there's every reason to do so to serve a greater good that has little to do with the former defendant.
Stevens's lawyer is mistaken that his client has been "cleared." He has not. Lockstep Republicans are echoing the same, and all of them are being intellectually dishonest. Nothing new there, move along. Letting Stevens go was an easy decision from every angle, there are bigger fish to fry and they're going to be entering the docket soon. Some of them will be prominent career Republicans, while others will be right-leaning criminal CEOs. The Obama administration's dismissal of the conviction will be their political firewall.
Now, it's time for the OLC to look very seriously and assiduously into the prosectutions of Mississippi attorney Paul Minor and former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman for what were likely political ends by the Bush II administration and elements within the RNC. While they're at it, they might want to look into prosecutorial misconduct in the trial of the DC Madam. It's there, just ask Bill Bastone of the Smoking Gun some time, it'll get a rise out of him. Let the rule of law be served.
"Former Senator Ted Stevens Deserves Praise From Alaskans, American Enterprise Institute, 04.02.2009: http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.29651/pub_detail.asp
"Can Ted Stevens Sue the Government...And Win?," WSJ Law Blog, 04.02.2009: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/04/02/can-ted-stevens-sue-the-government-and-win/