Alaskans not well served by Wohlforth’s views

Charles Wohlforth is a child of Alaska. So am I.

Unless I missed something, Wohlforth didn’t rescue the state’s biggest newspaper. But he’s like the kid whose mom or dad told him he could take the Cadillac out for a spin whenever he wanted.

Wohlforth’s columns, and his point of view, are a staple of state’s biggest newspaper. Writing is hard, and one of the sad side effects of our 144-character culture is that we have a dearth of people who can engage on the battlefield of real dialogue. So Wohlforth gets a lot of ink.

There are many of Charles’ columns that I enjoy, but his political agenda, and his unfettered access to delivering it to readers, is the main reason why I believe Citizens United made perfect sense. Were it not for Citizens United, newspapers and TV stations would once again control what information people receive to make political decisions.

When President Barack Obama made the audacious statement that America’s small businesses didn’t deserve credit for their success - that government gave it to them – Citizens United was the only counterbalance. In an exchange on FOX News, Britt Hume lamented to Brett Baer that the mainstream media simply ignored President Obama’s statement. Baer responded that, thanks to Citizens United, money could now be spent to tell Americans what the news media didn’t want them to hear.

Alaska’s fiscal problems have been to some extent caused, and to a great extent worsened, by the very people Wohlforth extols in his editorializing.

The election of Mike Dunleavy may dismay Charles Wohlforth, but it is the result of the public being given information that, in elections of yore, they might not have received. They would have only seen and heard Charles promoting Begich and belittling Dunleavy.

No thinking person believes that a given politician is a savior. I have no doubt that Mike Dunleavy does not view himself that way. But he campaigned on turning Alaska’s economy around, and that is a direct contrast to a state government that has seemed determined to drive resource industries out of a state that derives 95 percent of its revenue from resource extraction.

Wohlforth’s column, the day after the election, also savaged Congressman Don Young. What Young has achieved for Alaska is historic. No congressperson in history has gotten more bills passed to benefit their state than Don Young has – 81 bills signed into law by presidents of both parties. Yet Wohlforth, and Rich Mauer of KTUU, backhand Young as though he was an incompetent boob, when the evidence is quite the opposite.

Wohlforth said that Alaskans vote for Don Young because he’s conservative and that’s enough. Don Young wins elections because he is recognized as being among the most bipartisan members of Congress. He gets things done for Alaska because he builds support across the aisle in a way few even try to do. Wohlforth should be praising Don as an example to be followed.

Wohlforth said Don Young’s opponent “ran an amazing campaign.” Any responsible journalistic analysis would show that she was only amazing in her lack of understanding of almost all of the tremendously complex issues that impact Alaska in Washington, D.C. With no experience in governance to underpin her campaign promises, she was simply unprepared for the U.S. Congress.

Most shockingly, Wohlforth commented that, having gone to events of both parties, he could figure out who was Republican simply by their haircut, their clothes and their age. When I write an op-ed, I am told to tone down statements that may be deemed inappropriate. That clearly does not apply to Charles Wohlforth.

We all want the Anchorage Daily News to succeed. A daily newspaper is something that Alaskans want on their doorsteps. But they fairly expect it to reflect the hopes and dreams of the majority of Alaskans. Alaskans today are really not that different than those who, once upon a time – built roads, built bridges, built ports and built a pipeline across Alaska. If Mike Dunleavy does what he seems prepared to do, and Don Young continues to do what he has always done, Alaska will indeed be open for business – and most Alaskans will enthusiastically rise to embrace the opportunities that a booming economy will bring.

Arthur Hackney was born in Anchorage in 1951. He is a Republican political consultant who has recently worked for Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, among others.

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