Begich needs to come clean — but can he?




Ann Brown
Ann Brown

I read with interest former Sen. Mark Begich’s Aug. 12 Alaska Dispatch News column about our congressional delegation’s support, or lack thereof, for Donald Trump. He managed to accuse others of exactly what he himself is doing.

In his column “Time for Young, Sullivan and Murkowski to take an honest stand on Trump,” Begich accuses our congressional delegation of continuing to “dance around the question of whether or not they will vote for Trump.”

That is just not true. Sen. Dan Sullivan and U.S. Rep. Don Young both said they are supporting and voting for Trump. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has made clear her position on Hillary Clinton.

To her, Hillary Clinton is unacceptable. Unlike Begich, or her challenger, “independent” Margaret Stock — who has not yet been asked the question — Murkowski is on record as saying that she will not vote for Hillary Clinton, based on her policies, which would be a disaster for Alaska.

Begich does not dare to be so clear with the public. In a most evasive way, he managed to write more than 1,000 words in his column falsely accusing the delegation of lack of decisiveness, while not once saying whom he is supporting. 

Why wouldn’t  Begich write that he is supporting Hillary Clinton, even though it is clear he is doing her bidding? Because, although he does not seem to care about the state’s economic future — as evidenced by the party he belongs to and the national Democrats whom he has supported and who have supported him, he does seem to care about his political future.

Committing himself, in writing, to supporting Hillary Clinton for president would be the kiss of death for him in Alaska. Let’s count the reasons that his support for such a presidential candidate shows a complete lack of regard for the welfare of our state.

First: Hillary Clinton said she will permanently lock up the Arctic against oil and gas development — something that is vital for Alaska’s future.

Second: She said she will make oil production on lands even more difficult.

Third: She wants to kill fracking, which has been part of Alaska’s energy industry and will be important to our future, particularly as the independent companies make smaller pools of oil commercially viable.

Fourth: She has declared war on the coal industry and said she wants to put “coal miners out of work.” Presumably, that also includes the hundreds of Alaskans in the Interior who are employed in the coal industry. Further, if she has her way with coal, it would be the last dagger in the heart of the Alaska Railroad.

Fifth: Alaska has been more negatively impacted by Obamacare than any other state in the country.  Recall that Begich voted to pass Obamacare and Clinton has promised to expand it.

Finally, Clinton intends to whittle away further at our Second Amendment rights.

In short, a President Clinton would kill our economy, increase the government’s involvement in our health care choices and make it harder for us to defend ourselves. And she will have a Supreme Court to back her on the implementation of all of these policies.

Donald Trump has said some questionable things, and his behavior at times has been unfortunate. But he has not targeted Alaska’s workers, or our economy, or our values, as his challenger has done.

Begich, and other Alaska Democrats and “Independents,” know this but will support Hillary Clinton anyway. They will then try to distract the public by pointing to whatever Trump story the media happens to be featuring during the campaign.

Of course, it is possible that Begich will come clean with Alaskans, as he did in 2014 when he begrudgingly told the public that he was voting for Obama but that it was “irrelevant.” That he chose the word “irrelevant” is telling, and was likely preying on his mind. It was, after all, about that time Alaskans began to question what he had been able to accomplish in the U.S. Senate in his six years, two years of which were when his party had majorities in the House and Senate.

The answer? Not much, except the passage of Obamacare. He was such a poor negotiator, and cared so little for Alaska, that he got nothing in exchange for his vote, unlike other states that got the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase.”

To quote from an October 2014 edition of the New Republic, a respected left-of-center publication, “(Begich) has performed without distinction as a senator since winning a fluke election six years ago. He doesn’t have a trademark issue; no important bill bears his name.” His tacit endorsement of an avowedly anti-Alaska candidate isn’t likely to add any distinction to his political career in our state, but it might help him in his new role as a lobbyist.

Ann Brown is a former member of the Alaska Republican Party State Executive and Central Committees. She resides in Fairbanks. This opinion first appeared in the Alaska Dispatch News.