Paul Jenkins: Begich can't slip Obama's shadows in his quest for re-election

Paul Jenkins

So, you are Mark Begich, a die-hard liberal Democrat in a red meat, conservative state chock full of beards and flannel shirts and folks with long memories.

You get the cut-rate eats in the U.S. Senate cafeteria only because of a convergence of cosmic weirdness. Crooked federal prosecutors itching to bag Ted Stevens, your GOP opponent in 2008, broke the rules to nail him as the election loomed. What a strange, lucky break for you.

A Democrat masquerading as a Republican shows up from Florida to smear Stevens, an Alaskan Independence Party guy bleeds off votes on election day and, voilà, against all odds you squeak into the world's most exclusive club -- only the second Alaska Dem to win a seat in Washington since your father was in the House of Representatives four decades ago.

You pretend to be conservative, but as hard as you sell it, nobody buys your Rockefeller Republican baloney. You peddle it hard to the rubes, anyway You love oil. You wear your NRA membership on your sleeve. You love pickup trucks and Carhartts and bulldozers. But you vote with limousine liberals who believe Alaska cannot be trusted to Alaskans; that we live in igloos and eat polar bears. They own you.

You even cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, a threat to this nation's very future -- and pretend it is a good deal. Then, on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency's hatchet job on the Pebble project you opted -- or did you actually decide long before the EPA's "science" was complete? -- to support short-circuiting state permit processes to kill Pebble even before a mine application can be filed.

Mostly you love being a senator -- and, really, who can blame you? -- but you face a re-election brawl, and you have a problem.

For a Democrat, any Democrat, having Barack Obama as president must be an abject nightmare Who needs the grief? He is as popular as hemorrhoids, a caricature of the American Left at its sorry worst. Arrogant. Elitist. Clueless. But you wake up and there he is in all his truth-challenged glory, blustering in a malarkey-packed State of the Union speech that he will ignore Congress and fire off constitutionally suspect executive orders whenever he cannot get his way. Going it alone, he calls it.

"So, wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do," he says.

So there you are, a junior senator angling for another term, watching aghast as el presidenté rants, devolving this nation into a banana republic. You wait for him to don a tin pot. Democrats, as the world watches, leap to their feet and applaud -- yippee!-- as if a dictatorship is a good thing. Surely, you can hear the alarm bells.

Obama is not the first to use executive orders. In fact, he has issued fewer than most. Their use is checkered, and some smack of totalitarianism. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who issued 3,522 of them, used one to forcibly move Japanese-Americans and German-Americans to internment camps during World War II. Harry Truman seized and nationalized steel mills in a 1951 labor strike.

If you are Begich listening to Obama's speech, it only gets worse -- one fact-challenged assertion after another. There is everything from promising to shred red tape blocking highway projects actually stalled because there is no money, to increasing the federal minimum wage that only a tiny fraction of the work force receives, to whoppers about Medicare premiums not going up and claims about economic inequality already refuted in a Harvard study.

What to do? The Big Dog is making life tough. Why, you release a statement with the usual blah-blah-blah.

You tell the Wall Street Journal you believe there were "a lot of sound bites that may sound good in a speech," but it was short on specifics.

Then, you get far away: "I don't need him campaigning for me -- I need him to change some of his policies," he told CNN after the State of the Union.

Yes, if you are Begich, you have problems. First, you are a Democrat. Second, so is Obama. Third, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi? Democrats. Fourth, far, far too many of the other Washington whackjobs are Democrats. And, last, you are beholden to them.

After that it only gets worse. It's hell to be Begich.

Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.

Paul Jenkins