By WAYNE E. HEIMER
Both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan voted for the first infrastructure bill because it included “good things” for Alaska.
Trying to understand where Murkowski is coming from is challenging. She seldom explains; Sullivan does better. If you think bringing home the bacon (pork by definition) is good for Alaska, their votes made sense. Among those good things was money for Alaska petroleum infrastructure maintenance and development.
Shortly after the bill was signed, Sen. Sullivan reported the White House changed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations so Alaska couldn’t qualify for any dollars to support petroleum infrastructure. The Biden Administration folks had, after all, promised from the outset to “end fossil fuel” to save the planet. They apparently remain committed.
Recently, Sen. Sullivan released a video saying he had worked hard to get that infrastructure bill across the finish line because it contained good things for Alaska. It was Sullivan’s distressed conclusion that the president’s unelected Climate Czar John Kerry, was responsible for this subsequent bait-and-switch at the White House. Sullivan admitted he had trusted the Biden Administration when it wasn’t playing straight with him.
I give Sullivan high marks for honestly admitting he’d been outflanked by the Administration. I’ve not heard anything like that from Murkowski.
Reviewing Murkowski’s record shows we got a vote of “present” on a Supreme Court justice, followed by a preemptive bill to establish Roe v. Wade as national law.
Then Murkowski offered legislation (albeit chasing federal money, aka pork, for an embryonic idea only insiders have even heard of) that would turn Alaska’s fanciful “Long Trail” management over to the federal Bureau of Land Management.
And, we saw Murkowski vote to infringe upon the Second Amendment.
These actions suggest to me is that Murkowski doesn’t trust Alaskans to make reasonable state laws about abortion or management of firearms acquisition or ownership. Apparently Murkowski would rather the federal government do it for us as “one size fits all.” And she would turn over another piece of Alaska land to federal management.
Murkowski’s vote to advance “reasonable gun control” interests me most today. Murkowski has been a nominal supporter of the Second Amendment when it suited her since she got to Washington. What changed?
Was she influenced by actor Matthew McConaughey’s hyper-emotional plea for rationality? I don’t know McConaughey or his emotional ties to Uvaldi, Texas. What I do know is that when we’re emotionally vulnerable, remaining rational becomes increasingly important (and increasingly difficult). Given McConaughey’s success as an actor, I infer he’s been in Hollywood for a long time while trading on his Texas image. His emotional involvement with the Uvaldi tragedy seemed strikingly similar to the tactics of those who advocate never letting a “crisis go to waste.”
Interestingly, McConaughey’s emotion-driven plea for “rational” firearms management paradoxically puts him in a pickle, similar to the one that Sen. Sullivan put himself in. An acknowledged conservative, Sullivan has introduced legislation to keep Wall Street’s “woke” money managers from curtailing investment in Alaskan petroleum projects. This seems an odd intrusion into free market capitalism.
While Sullivan is obviously conservative, some rate him as the second-most liberal Republican (after Murkowski) in the Senate. I suspect this is because Sullivan often cooperates with Democrats on lots of their stuff (in traditional, bipartisan senatorial style) when he thinks that legislation is either neutral for us or good for Alaska. That’s OK.
Still, Sullivan’s confirmation votes for President Joe Biden appointees who are ending access to fossil fuels are hard to ignore. It looks like Sullivan believed lies by appointees for secretaries of Energy and Interior. But nobody’s perfect.
Actor McConaughey does what we wouldn’t expect a typical Texan to do, and Sen. Sullivan is proposing what a typical conservative wouldn’t propose — sanctioning private business decisions. It’s a topsy-turvey world!
Meanwhile, Murkowski shows evidence of wanting to preemptively lead Alaskans rather than represent us. Other candidates for Alaska’s House seat have used similar language stressing their leadership. Exceptions include candidates Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and Congressional candidate Nick Begich (and possibly Sarah Palin.) These folks talk of representing Alaska rather than not trusting us to find our own way.
I’m not so sure about Begich and Palin, but Tshibaka’s record shows she has seen and exposed enough actual corruption in D.C. politics that I think she’s less likely to be fooled by platitudes offered by Administration appointees, and less likely than Murkowski to sell Alaska for cheap federal dollars.
Wayne E. Heimer is a long-term Fairbanks resident who is at least as flummoxed as Dan Sullivan by Washington’s inconsistencies, intrigues, and election year politics.