Columns 2013

Ah sleaze, thy name is politicians

George Ahmaogak was recently re-elected to the board of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. Given his spotty legal history as North Slope Borough mayor, and his wife’s current incarceration for embezzling funds from the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, when I heard the news I wondered where else in this country could someone with that baggage get re-elected to anything. Given recent candidate announcements both here in Alaska and across the country, I have to guess the answer is just about anywhere in America.

I don’t know if this reflects more on the poor taste of the American people or their low regard for politicians. Short of outright murder, it doesn’t seem as though there is much any political figure can do and not get re-elected in a comeback campaign during which he (and so far, it’s always a he) humbly admits to human frailties and asks his constituents to forgive him because, honestly, he will try harder this time.

So in South Carolina we see former governor Mark “I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail” Sanford re-elected to his old US House seat against an opponent who, unfortunately, had never committed any moral or legal transgressions. Being a clean candidate seems to have become a distinct disadvantage, as you then apparently have no way to relate to the common man.

In NYC, of course, you have some of the most fun available this campaign season as former governor Spitzer (“You mean I shouldn’t have billed my office for prostitute related charges?”) and former US Representative Weiner (“Could my last name be more appropriate for every late night comedian in America?”) stage their comebacks. 

I feel as though at this point I should be apologizing for all the parentheses and quotation marks in this column but it is impossible to write about this insanity with a straight face. I mean, a guy with the last name of Weiner sending pictures of his… well, weiner… to women who find it somehow a turn on.  Seriously, I want to meet those women because I no more understand that allure than I understand the allure of reality TV.

If there is one piece of good news in all this, it is that only one politician, the aforementioned Weiner, dragged his wife to the podium with him. In fact, if you listened to his statement explaining the slimy things he did after resigning from Congress for the slimy things he did while in Congress, you’d think that his wife had been his partner in the sleaziness. He never said “I” when he could somehow torture the sentence into a “we”.

As Mrs. Wiener stood there smiling valiantly, probably thinking about how she’ll redecorate the White House when she becomes First Lady, you could almost hear her former boss Hillary Clinton whispering in her ear. “Suck it up if you ever want to make it as a power couple in DC.” As Hillary has proven time and again, a few indiscretions should not stand in the way of whatever grand political scheme you have planned.

And now Alaska’s very own Vic “I’m just a poor schlub with no money, career or future so I might as well be a politician” Kohring has announced he is running for Wasilla city councilman. Given that Vic’s crime was plain, old-fashioned greed and not on the level of moral turpitude as prostitutes and money shots, he probably can more honestly than most state that he’s learned his lesson – especially since there isn’t all that much money available in Wasilla. Given some of the other politicians who have come out of Wasilla, Vic is certainly not the bottom of the barrel, or even the most mindboggling. I think The Sarah will have that title tied up for a long time to come.

So to the people of the North Slope, I apologize for thinking you were in anyway out of the ordinary for re-electing someone with a questionable past.  And if there is anyone out there who knows Anthony Weiner, will you please teach him about those photo programs that delete the photos seconds after they’ve been sent. I think we can pretty much accept he won’t stop. But at least he can learn to delete.  Just like I wish I could delete all these sleazebags from the political life of the country I love.