This Ted Stevens fiasco is baggage of the McCain camp's own choosing. Before they added Sarah Palin to the ticket, Alaska was anything but Main Street America. Under the old rules, Steven's corruption scandal could well have blown over as a parochial scandal of the great, oily North.
But since picking Palin, McCain & Co. have staked out Alaska as the living, beating heart of American authenticity. And so, today, Ted Steven's felonious betrayal of the public trust is going to allow Democrats to campaign like it's 2006 -- against the Republican "culture of corruption" that proved so electorally toxic to the GOP two years ago.
Let's remember that the McCain camp knew in late July that Stevens was under indictment and demanding a speedy trial that would put Alaska's frontier ethics front-and-center in the days before the election.
And yet, thanks to a vetting free Veepstakes, in August the campaign chose Palin, who not only owes her governorship to Stevens' throaty endorsement, but as recently as 2005 served as the director of "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service" 527 group.
As usual, the intrepid Anchorage Daily News offers the go-to coverage of the Stevens/Palin entanglements. This adn.com video offers a glimpse of their buddy-buddy relationship:
At minute 1:13 you can see the last-minute 2006 campaign commercial in which Stevens passes the baton to Palin's "new generation" of leadership, asking his fellow Alaskans to "help Sarah become governor, which we all want to see."
Half way through, we see Palin and Stevens joshing around together at a press conference from this past July -- post the FBI raid of Stevens' home, but just prior to his indictment. Stevens chummily calls it "The Sarah and Ted Show."
Stevens: Hell, I don't know if you know it but when Frank Murkowski was first elected this lady and I ... traveled around the state for two weeks. We've known each other a long time. Worked together a long time.
Palin: I have great respect for the senator.... His voice, his experience, his passion needs to be heard across America. So that Alaska can contribute more. So that we can be producers. So that we can help lead the rest of the U.S. I, again, have great respect for him. There's a big difference between reality and perception regarding our relationship.
So here's my question: If Sarah Palin was such an all-American maverick, what was she doing palling around with a suspected felon like Ted Stevens?