Time’s Unfair Assessment Of Akaka

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - April 26, 2006
| Del.icio.us


Waaaaaaaaaait a minute here. Just one minute.

Last week the editors of Time magazine, in another of their signature unsigned articles, counted Hawaii’s Dan Akaka among the United States Senate’s five worst members.

Worst and best, of course, are subjective judgments, particularly in the realm of politics. I, for example, find two of the 10 senators Time cited as the Senate’s best far worse than Hawaii’s junior senator.

As you might guess, my worst are both conservative Republicans: Arizona’s John Kyl and Mississippi’s Thad Cochran. Time praises Kyl for his mastery of subterfuge (I believe that’s a fancy word for hiding the truth) and note his support for abolishing the estate tax (so that this country’s ludicrously rich can become ludicrously richer).

That gets you on Time‘s best list?

Let us also mention that as much as any other member Kyl has succeeded in keeping the Akaka Bill - and thus recognition for native Hawaiians - from getting a vote on the Senate floor.

Then there’s Cochran. Time tells us that he’s among the Senate’s best because as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Cochran has done a bang-up job getting billions appropriated for his own Katrina-stricken state of Mississippi.

And well he should. Call it blood money. For years Cochran and his conservative ilk have been short-changing the Corps of Engineers and everyone else who warned of the dangers to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

He, Kyl and the other Republicans on Time‘s list of the best - Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter, Arizona’s John McCain, Indiana’s Richard Lugar and Maine’s Olympia Snowe - have largely marched lock-step behind the Bush-Cheney, let’s-go-play-with-young-American-and-Iraqi-lives machine.

These so-called “best” have thus supported the “worst” - by far - president of my lifetime - and beyond.

Dan Akaka hasn’t.

“Worst” is in the eye of the beholder. To wit, Time‘s best list also included Massachusetts’s Ted Kennedy. I would, proud liberal that I am, agree. But I would venture that there’s hardly a conservative Republican alive who didn’t grow apoplectic at the sight of Kennedy’s name on Time‘s best list.

Simply put, I don’t trust Time. To a large extent, I don’t trust any Mainland publication’s assessment of Hawaii or Hawaii’s congressional delegation.

Mainland editors don’t get it - never have, never will.

For example, in the 1990s, the most vocal continental publication on Hawaii was Forbes Magazine. Remember? Forbes editors called us “the People’s Republic of Hawaii.”

Why? Oh, because of our employer-mandated healthcare contribution and a fair work-men’s compensation policy.

You know, things that benefited working folks.

To make a best list by Mainland values, our delegation would have be composed of hard-chargin’, silver-tongued, preferably lawyers who are good - I suppose - at “subterfuge,” lowering taxes for the rich and supporting incompetently waged wars that were begun on deceit.

Nope. Dan Akaka would never make such a best list. He opposed the war Iraq. He’s always favored an equitable tax system. And I can think of an awful lot of folks capable of subterfuge (this columnist included), but Dan Akaka isn’t among them.

There’s another problem. Akaka is Hawaiian, and our senior senator, Dan Inouye, is Japanese. Culturally, neither fits Time‘s cookie-cutter model of a best United States senator.

Akaka is humble, kind and decent. He embodies aloha. And there is a wisdom and efficacy in those characteristics that simply doesn’t fit Time‘s how-many-bills-did-you-pass-no matter-how-nefarious cultural matrix.

Same goes for Inouye. There are those who would argue that the senior Dan can out-senator anyone in that body. But given his cultural reserve and abhorrence of the press release, there’s no way he’ll ever make a Mainland’s best list.

I’ll take Akaka and Inouye. Leave Bush’s conservative sycophants to Time‘s editors.

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