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How Stevens Invited His Verdict

Goodness knows, I take no pleasure in what just happened to the Senate's longest serving Republican, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia this afternoon.

Found guilty on seven felony corruption charges, the 84-year-old, 40-year Senate veteran faces the prospect of having to render further federal service, albeit involuntarily, at a United States penal institution not of his choice.

An unpleasant fate indeed.

Now Alaskans are confronted with a decision that could reach deeply within the corridors of power in Washington: Do they, on election day, return to the nation's capital a convicted felon or do they free up Stevens from further obligations to the state so that he might concentrate his mind on the new relationship he has established with the government he once managed from his Capitol Hill perch.

Voter rejection of Stevens could be felt in the Senate in ways unlikely to be undone for years to come. His seat was a fixture in the Republican column. Taking him out of office on November 4 may move the Democrats one step closer to a filibuster-proof Senate -- a possibility that now likely has the Democratic National Committee drooling.

But whether Stevens is seen as an honorable and innocent legislator who was unfairly prosecuted with flimsy evidence or whether he is regarded as just one more corrupt politician who took in tens of thousands of bucks of undisclosed gifts and then lied about it, there is one aspect of Ted Stevens that wins virtually unanimous, bipartisan agreement in Washington: The Senate patriarch can be a nasty and arrogant human being who seems to get his jollies treating people with disdain.

Which may help explain why the District of Columbia jury reached the conclusion that the man deserved to be punished.

Whether he knew it -- or was too obtuse to get it -- the courtroom's optics worked against him. It's one thing to kick around Senate witnesses and staff. (I was a Senate staffer in the 1970s and saw Stevens snarl and go off on people with little reason.) But talking down to a federal prosecutor during his cross examination as if she were a dummy -- as Stevens reportedly did -- was virtually a gold-plated invitation for jurors to decide to put him in his place, provided the evidence also supported such a decision.

Stevens, despite his years of service to the nation, failed to realize that he wasn't up on a Senate dais looking down at browbeaten witnesses or back home surrounded by Alaskan cronies and sycophants; that, instead, he was in a city that has long experience with politicians who become high and mighty, who start to think they're above the law, and who begin to regard gifts and tangible expressions of affection as entitlements.

The pol who has the unmitigated gall to become ill-tempered and overbearing when confronted with his misdeeds gets his comeuppance, and more. Stevens should have had enough sense to stay off the docket. But then again, what can you tell a know-it-all.

By Colbert King  | October 27, 2008; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  King  | Tags:  Colbert King  
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Next: Stevens the Soothsayer

Comments

The conviction makes no difference to Stevens, he is going to get a free "get out of jail" card from shrub and go on his merry way as a lobbyist.

Posted by: adevine1 | October 27, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I've never seen a party totally implode. Its pretty cool.

Posted by: tweldy | October 27, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

PBAMF

Isa

Posted by: Issa1 | October 27, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it about time to kick off speculation on Bush's pardon list ?
Stevens would seem to merit inclusion. Perhaps Rove will get a pre-emptive pardon. What about Dick, can he get one too? Is he shielded somehow ?
Just who else needs to be on the list ?

Posted by: PatD1 | October 27, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

"what can you tell a know-it-all.(sic)"
Country first, Senator.

At least he doesn't have a wide stance.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | October 27, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I think "Scooter" Libby will be on that list of pardons by Bush.And most probably a whole host of pre-emptive ones for anyone involved in torture too.Can he pardon himself?I'll bet he'll try!

Posted by: mane1 | October 27, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

"Goodness knows, I take no pleasure in what just happened to the Senate's longest serving Republican, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska..."

Well, I sure do! May he die behind bars.

Posted by: raycrossley | October 27, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

"Goodness knows, I take no pleasure," etc. I'm sure that's a sincere statement. In fact, it took you less than an hour from the verdict for you to "take no pleasure." Another
"in fact:" It took Gene Robinson 1/2 hour longer. Isn't that called "piling on?"

Posted by: Rodin | October 27, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Isn't that called "piling on?"

Yep. And it isn't like it'd undeserved.

I'm loving it. From what I've read over the years, he's the classic "insufferable pr!ck."

Posted by: itsagreatday1 | October 27, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Not to worry,Alaska has a sterling record of voting for crooks and village idiots for public office. When he returns to the Senate,and then is convicted on appeal,Govenor Gidget will use her extraordinary legal powers as govenor of Alaska,or god help us,V.P.with those "Special" Superpowers and she will pardon this infamous crook,or,no wait,let him go to the slammer,and then appoint Todd as his replacement,thats the ticket,Senator Todd Palin.
Then when Gidget gets tossed out of office,Michele Bachmann can replace het.

Posted by: jeromejmarkiewicz | October 27, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Mr King, I can feel your pain. Like you, I take no pleasure in seeing such a humble, caregiving man brought to justice. It must be a trying time for this poor man and his family. Stay strong! The struggle continues.

Posted by: Draesop | October 27, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

You're right: it's "hard to tell a know-it-all." I wrote to Kerry four years ago and Biden a month ago telling each to bridle their motor mouth and learn when to be quiet. Do Senators (and Governors) listen? And then we have Mahoney and Edwards (as well as Foley, Livingston, and many others [Craig?]) who think their bloated egos justify philandering on taxpayer time.
Power does corrupt. Worse though, is the power of the open checkbook Congress (and Bush) have now given to Goldman Sachs wizards: watch for the real corruption to be revealed [in ten years], the destruction of the dollar through giveaways.

Posted by: HandyDan | October 27, 2008 8:35 PM | Report abuse

"Goodness knows, I take no pleasure in what just happened to the Senate's longest serving Republican, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska..."

Yeah, right. It would take a cold heart not to feel the warmth of schadenfreude at this verdict.

Posted by: turningfool | October 27, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Alaska haters, what about this?Colin Powell: Stevens reputation 'sterling'
By ERIKA BOLSTAD and RICHARD MAUER
Anchorage Daily News
WASHINGTON - One of the nation's best-known retired Army generals, Colin Powell, described Sen. Ted Stevens in court today as a "trusted individual" and a man with a "sterling" reputation.
"He was someone whose word you could rely on," said Powell, secretary of state in President Bush's first term, who self-deprecatingly described himself as someone who retired as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then "dabbled a bit in diplomacy."
Stevens, on trial for lying about gifts on financial disclosure forms, has the right to ask character witnesses to speak on behalf of his "truthfulness and veracity." The first such character witness, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, spoke Thursday. Another three are set to testify on Stevens' behalf, but the highest-profile witness, by far, will be Powell.
The former secretary of state said he had known Stevens for 25 years, mostly in the senator's role as the top defense appropriator on a Senate defense appropriations committee. In Stevens, "I had a guy who would tell me when I was off base, he would tell me when I had no clothes on, figuratively, that is, and would tell me when I was right and go for it," Powell said. "He's a guy who, as we said in the infantry, we would take on a long patrol."
When asked outside of the courtroom after his testimony whether Stevens asked him personally to testify to his character, Powell said he couldn't recall if it was the senator or one of his lawyers. But he didn't think twice about testifying, Powell said.
"Not at all," he said, snapping his fingers to signify it was a snap decision.

Posted by: steveconn1 | October 27, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Colin Powell volunteered as a character witness for Ted Stevens.What does that say about his Obama endorsement?Colin Powell: Stevens reputation 'sterling'
By ERIKA BOLSTAD and RICHARD MAUER
Anchorage Daily News
Published: October 10th, 2008 11:28 AM
Last Modified: October 10th, 2008 11:28 AM
WASHINGTON - One of the nation's best-known retired Army generals, Colin Powell, described Sen. Ted Stevens in court today as a "trusted individual" and a man with a "sterling" reputation.
"He was someone whose word you could rely on," said Powell, secretary of state in President Bush's first term, who self-deprecatingly described himself as someone who retired as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then "dabbled a bit in diplomacy."
Stevens, on trial for lying about gifts on financial disclosure forms, has the right to ask character witnesses to speak on behalf of his "truthfulness and veracity." The first such character witness, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, spoke Thursday. Another three are set to testify on Stevens' behalf, but the highest-profile witness, by far, will be Powell.
The former secretary of state said he had known Stevens for 25 years, mostly in the senator's role as the top defense appropriator on a Senate defense appropriations committee. In Stevens, "I had a guy who would tell me when I was off base, he would tell me when I had no clothes on, figuratively, that is, and would tell me when I was right and go for it," Powell said. "He's a guy who, as we said in the infantry, we would take on a long patrol."
When asked outside of the courtroom after his testimony whether Stevens asked him personally to testify to his character, Powell said he couldn't recall if it was the senator or one of his lawyers. But he didn't think twice about testifying, Powell said.
"Not at all," he said, snapping his fingers to signify it was a snap decision.

Posted by: steveconn1 | October 27, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

You don't BEGIN a life of corruption at age 75, or even 50. All of these people who have been caught on "a few little gifts" are extremely likey to have led a life of corruption from the very beginning. We all KNOW that.

Posted by: tribute1 | October 27, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

The timing of Steven's convictions is incredible, just one week before elections. Now once again Republicans have to deal with a very public example of the culture of corruption right before a major contest, it's deja vu all over again.

Am just wondering who will get slimed standing too near Stevens on this one. The Republican Party has gotten slimed from these smaller acts of cronyism. Maybe Stevens, two years ago, thought he would never get caught.

I don't think there is real entitlement or tenure serving the Public in Washington, D.C. Perhaps the ole-timers would say that one does not have any real true friends inside the Beltway. Power corrupts but corrupts absolutely, I am not sure on this one. I do know that the time for compromise has come and past for most conservatives in the Senate.

Posted by: truthhurts | October 27, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

I too take little pride in seeing a Senator, certainly as prickly as Colbert King describes, be taken down over some small sum of money. Small sum of money you say...the great financers of Wall Street, the Countrywide loan lenders who deliberately and knowly sold the mortgages to people who should never have had them in the first place, and then bilked the public out of billions of dollars including retirees who can never make up the losses. These are the people who should be in prison and held accountable.

Posted by: faw_07003 | October 27, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I have to agree. 250K isn't worth going to jail for. A fancier house? Maybe a fancier house in Portofino, and the Carribean, and Gstaad would be worth it. Republicans are running around right now saying 250K isn't even close to rich.

Here's what I want to know. Will Sarah get a pre-emptive pardon for the contractors from the sports complex who "helped" Todd build their house? Or don't the rules apply to small town mayors?

Posted by: patriot16 | October 27, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

"Isn't it about time to kick off speculation on Bush's pardon list ?
Stevens... Rove... Dick? Just who else needs to be on the list ?:

Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzales, Doug Feith, Steven Hadley, Condi Rice, John Ashcroft (although maybe his refusal to re-approve will spare him), George Tenet, Paul Wolfowitz, Bremer, Michael Ledeen (yellowcake forgeries), I could go on and on.........

Posted by: patriot16 | October 27, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Colbert King: Nailed Stevens

Tweldy: very witty

Pat D1: Other Bush pardons -

Tom the Hammer DeLay?

Plus, I betcha, soldiers convicted of unlawful killings in Iraq.

Plus, of course, the big one - Scooter Libby, so he can practice law again.

Posted by: kenonwenu | October 27, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Since not many Bushie insiders have been convicted , but could be after Bush leaves office, will Bush grant some sort of never-heard-of-before "Pre-Pardon" to those likely to be called?

Posted by: jfern03 | October 27, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I thought Stevens would get off. And, then, he took the stand. You might as well as have handled him a shovel and told him to dig.

He's 84 years old. He ain't going to jail. He's not going to become a lobbyist. His career is over whether he wins the election or not.

Posted by: BigBubba1 | October 27, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Boo f-ing Hoo.

His whole life's work, down the Tubes.


Posted by: Christian_in_NYC | October 28, 2008 12:20 AM | Report abuse

The Republican Party always lectures us about Personal Responsibility.


Well, Ted. Here's your opportunity to practice what you preach.

Posted by: Christian_in_NYC | October 28, 2008 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Term limits anyone? I've lived in Alaska for 32 years, and I thought we'd never get rid of the old curmudgeon (and we still haven't...) But justice has been served, so now it's one down, two to go. Taking bets on Don Young going down next week... We'll turn this red state blue yet.

Posted by: borntorun45 | October 28, 2008 12:32 AM | Report abuse

jfern03 asks: will Bush grant some sort of never-heard-of-before "Pre-Pardon" to those likely to be called?
Actually, this is exactly the kind of pardon that Gerald Ford gave to Richard Nixon.

Posted by: pchapin | October 28, 2008 12:56 AM | Report abuse

This could not have happened to a more deserving person than Mr. Stevens. He told all that he pressed for a speedy trial so he could be vindicated by the time Election Day came around. His real strategy was to ensure that he would be tried in time for a pardon when his fellow peckerwood in the White House leaves office --- and that will happen folks. If a great attorney like Brendan Sullivan cannot get you off with the flimsy evidence then you know that Mr. Stevens was convicted on the one charge he can't be pardoned on - the jury knew he's corrupt at his core. Time to go home to your corruptly furnished home, Ted, and drink your Ovaltine with Sarah Palin tapes teaching you about ethics. What is it about Alaska that produces such mediocrity in its politicians? Yuck!

Posted by: rsccc | October 28, 2008 12:58 AM | Report abuse

We got Pembo in '06 and now we got Stevens, headed for prison no less.

On to the next anti-environmental creep

Posted by: chrisfox8 | October 28, 2008 2:03 AM | Report abuse

You may take no pleasure in Ted Stevens' downfall - but I certainly do. This guy is quite simply a corrupt, abusive, selfish, world-class jerk. He conviction is long overdue and richly deserved.

Posted by: chiefnugt | October 28, 2008 3:48 AM | Report abuse


"Goodness knows, I take no pleasure in what just happened to the Senate's longest serving Republican, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska,"

WELL, *I* DO!!!!
____________________
Fake Kane, Homeless Brain
Read more of my smartmouth opinions at http://blog.myspace.com/fayekane

Posted by: FayeKane_HomelessSmartypants | October 28, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I hate to say it but this type of behavior, i.e. Duke Cunningham; Dan Rostenkowski et al, is the best argument for term limits. I know the Senior Senators are the ones that can get things done and they aren't all corrupt (read Ted Kennedy) but it's just too easy for them to adopt that sense of entitlement.

Posted by: elkofan | October 28, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Good old fashioned karma will come back around if you wait long enough. So long, Senator.

Posted by: jaynashvil | October 28, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Is it wise to muzzle the ox that grinds the corn?

Posted by: nickwib | October 28, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Is this a case of "what goes around comes around"? Mr. Stevens should actually go to prison and stay there for at least a year. That might take him down a peg. Preferably a SuperMax. In solitary. He can rail at the uncomfortable mattress and the guy in the mirror.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | October 28, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Two words: term limits. Career politicians are a poison in our democracy. They (eventually) rule their fiefdoms with an iron fist, treat the citizens who put them there like serfs, and generally add to the bloated budgets and scathing partisanship. Bringing home the bacon does not entitle these fossils to behave in such a manner. I'm a lifelong Republican, and I'm embarrassed by the way so many in the GOP have behaved over the past 20 years.

Posted by: wrigleywrat | October 28, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I'd say that Colin Powell's endorsement of Ted Stevens reveals either a lack on deep knowledge, or a somewhat naievely optimistic evaluation of character.

General Powell does have a track record of looking at the good, and overlooking the bad - which is actually a sterling example of what most of society is holding up as the ideal. So which do you really want?

Posted by: mhoust | October 28, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I take no pleasure in someone's sorrow. I expect that Ted Stevens experiences some amidst the confusion of anger and blame. As an Alaskan I've benefitted from "Uncle Ted's" largesse and have grown comfortable expecting it. Much has been of great and needed benefit to a state with limited transportation infrastructure and rural villages with limited modern community amenities.

However, Stevens has also used his -until now- unassailable seat to ride to the service of causes and people of questionable merit. He enthusiastically used his position and influence in support of our tragic misadventure in Iraq. His quixotic pursuit of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling has been a waste of precious legislative resources and time. He only became a believer in climate change when some of his northern constituent's homes began falling into the rising sea.

Ted has served Alaska as well or better than many representatives. Like many representatives, he came to believe he owned his congressional seat. Hopefully his unsightly demise will persuade congressmen and senators inclined toward that view to take a more humble attitude as public "servants". None of them should make Steven's and many Alaskans' mistake of believing he is indispensible. Time moves on. Ted should too and take the honorable step of resigning from the Senate.

Posted by: calidris1 | October 28, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Oh, please.

Trying to tarnish Colin Powell because he testified for Stevens??

Colin Powell wasn't up in Alaska helping remodel Steven's house. He knew nothing about all of that.

He said that in his experience, Stevens wasn't a weasel or a backstabber. He didn't say he couldn't be bought.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | October 28, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Stevens is just another arrogant republotard SOB who thought that the rules didn't apply to him.

All the reptards think this. Did you notice how, once tagged as VP, Palin started simply ignoring the subpoenas coming out of alaska.

Ditto with rove, miers, gonzo and the rest.

Well, I cannot wait until Obama and the Democrats revisit all this corruption for years to come.

Like I always say;

Payback is a MF!

Posted by: Heerman532 | October 28, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

As far as I can tell rules, laws and legalities and other such trivial issues do not seem to be that big of a deal to the repugs these days. When you are as isolated from reality as Ted Stevens you can justify almost anything. In his hubris, Sen Stevens probably felt that he had it coming and even deserved the freebees. I only hope that this is the beginning of a series of convictions. I believe returning this country to one ruled by laws has to be one of the most important missions of the Obama Presidency.

Posted by: dougf1 | October 28, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

This man knows no shame. He WILL run for reelection. The RNC is going to say that the Democrats were out to get him and Alaskans SHOULD reelect him. President Bush WILL pardon him thereby removing the specter of a jail term. You read it here!

Posted by: Jimof1913 | October 28, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

"I don't lose my temper. I always know where it is." Ted Stevens as quoted in
'The State of Sarah Palin', New Yorker, 09/22/08.

Posted by: martymar123 | October 29, 2008 7:09 AM | Report abuse

What bothers me in these cases (Stevens, Cunningham, Jefferson, etc.) is the petty nature of the "gifts." Cars, couches, patio furniture, or a few thousand dollars! Apparently you can buy influence with the final round prizes from "The Price is Right."

Posted by: kcc3 | October 29, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

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