Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Back again; Catching up with Stevens.

There's probably a reason why in English, "Fishing" also means blindly searching for something.

While I was in the field, enjoying bright sunny days in Southeast, I was necessarily away from news outlets and the like. So it came as a bit of a surprise when I got back at the end of the fieldwork and found out that Ted Stevens had died. Immediately, I asked some people near me (I was using a tourist internet connection) if they knew any details, since I'd just found out. Apparently they didn't live in Alaska full-time because their first question was "Who is Ted Stevens?"

It's one of those questions an Alaskan wouldn't need to ask. If you've lived here a year, or a hundred, you know Ted Stevens. There's a good chance you've met him in the flesh. One of my friends is repeatedly on record as saying that he owed his first job to Ted Stevens, when he funnelled some money this way. Obviously, Ted Stevens was not without his detractors. There are arguments for and against him, and one could debate in circles whether he was for good or ill. In fact, our skipper (who got the news on the sideband, but failed to share it with anyone since we were all ashore) launched into a heated debate with some other folks about Stevens' goodness (or lack thereof). I'm not sure this is the time to decide a legacy - when it comes to politicians, it's difficult to gauge legacy until time has passed just a bit. And I won't try to argue one way or the other just yet. But one thing I think we could all agree on is that Ted Stevens was a massive figure in our state.


flying fish said...

I don't agree with a lot of Mr. Stevens' politics, but with out him Alaska would have very few roads and very few airports. He also pushed forward many bills that benefited the Native people in Alaska. We needed Ted because there aren't enough of us to foot the bill.

Aside from that, it was fun to listen to him rant and holler at his peers, at Steve Heimel and at who ever was on the phone when he was on Talk of Alaska!

TwoYaks said...

I've given that some thought, and I'm not 100% sure that someone else couldn't have done what Ted did, if Ted wasn't there. But I'm not convinced that he wasn't needed. I'm just very unconvinced of everything. ;)

Time is the best judge of these things. Maybe 10, 15 years from now we'll have had enough time to ruminate on his legacy, and come up with an opinion that isn't a product of the times - it's hard to know the significance of events you're in the middle of.

I've got the exact same memory of him, though. I usually don't like Talk of Alaska (or other call in shows), but when he was on, I'd turn on the radio...

flying fish said...

Alaska is so young, we're going to be in the middle of significant events for ages. No other state is so raw that the mayor of a small town...oh never mind there's too much talk about her.

Stevens was here at the right time and didn't die in a plane crash earlier like so many others did. It's all a big crap shoot. What if Begich/Boggs hadn't vanished?

Opinions that are a product of the times... that's sort of the byline for Alaska politics.