Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska, is on trial in Washington for dishonesty, falsifying his financial disclosure forms to hide gifts and improvements to his personal residence. He should be found guilty. This is being written before the announcement of the verdict. In part my prediction of a guilty verdict comes based upon his behavior under cross-examination by the federal prosecutor who happens to be a female. Stevens, an octogenarian, long has held sway and had his way. He certainly has not had to be very answerable all during these past decades when his machine has delivered the votes to keep him in office. These votes have caused his ascendency to a kingly position on Capitol Hill. Over these many years it is clear he has become hierarchical and princely.
His haughtiness and arrogance came through loudly and clearly as the federal prosecutrix Brenda Morris needled him with direct probing questions. Stevens probably never was subjected to such inquisition. He always had dished it out as a U.S. senator. His behavior in dealing with cross-examination, in my opinion, will go a long way in his being convicted. He was not nice. He was not personable. He was not respectful. He sparred and jousted with Morris, asking her questions himself, which is a no-no. He criticized her. He tried to belittle her. One time, he received her question and rather than answering it, he said, "That question is tautological," (meaning redundant). Now, I ask, what members of the jury would even know what that word means? But, Stevens had to come across as pedantic, knowing more than the prosecutor. This works to his great detriment.
At one point during the cross-examination Stevens responded that some of the details of the renovation work done to his house became lost in his mind and memory because he leads such a busy life as a U.S. senator, having to attend committee meetings, spending long hours on the job and meeting challenges that arise being the legislative representative of a very important state. Just whom does he expect will buy this excuse? He cannot possibly be that busy as a U.S. senator! And, this brings me to the main thrust, Stevens would say gravamen, of this public correspondence.
There are three United States senators who want to elevate themselves to the highest executive positions in the land. They have been at it for more than 18 months persistently, Stevens would say assiduously. These three senators have slogged on with great self-interest, seemingly to the neglect of their regular senatorial duties, assuming there are many which is open to question. If the U.S. Senate seat is so important and the job so time consuming, how is it that these three senators can be on a self-aggrandizing vacation for a year and a half? Some even find time to write books, best sellers. I personally am so busy carrying out my employment tasks, and I am sure the vast majority of other employed individuals across the United States feel the same way, I find myself without much leisure time to even walk the dogs or go see a movie.
This summer, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico wanted to be a nominee of the Democrat party for the presidency, and he spent months upon months this past spring and summer away from his gubernatorial duties trying to win support. No wonder he said as governor of New Mexico, he had the best job in the world! And his hiatus from running the state of New Mexico did not stop after he lost the nomination. He grew a Bondian villain's goatee and toured parts of South America. How that connected to his beloved New Mexico is very much in question.
The American public should not stand for these people working for them to pursue personal agendas that take a year, a year and a half to the neglect of their obligations to their constituencies. But, strangely, it is all legal and very American. I say, shorten this whole presidential nomination process. But, you never hear any of the candidates talking about that. Why? Because in a shortened process millions upon millions of dollars could be saved and we would expect U.S. senators and governors to spend more time doing their jobs. Like Stevens said, "I have a busy life as a senator attending committee meetings, keeping long hours and meeting the challenges representing the people of Alaska."
Richard A. Kahler
attorney at law