The ADN coverage of Don Young over the years has highlighted pictures of his hunting trophies - as they did again today - and his malopropisms.
I think lots of readers, particularly those on the left - myself included - underestimated him based on these stereotypes. His skills were less tangible and harder to document. But someone doesn't get reelected over and over again if he doesn't have something working right. OK, living in Republican state didn't hurt, but there was more to it. I 'got it' in the 2008 election when I attended a debate between Harvard grad Ethan Berkowitz and Don Young. Young creamed him. This was not the Young I'd conjured up based on reading about him in the newspapers.
Today's story by Erika Bolstad is the most subtle and balanced one I can remember reading. It's worth a look. This isn't an endorsement of Young, but we need to know as much about politicians as possible to understand them as complete people, not two-dimensional cutouts. The Abramoff connections and the Florida highway are still questions that the Justice Department's handling doesn't resolve in my mind. Here are some highlights:
Knife, but no computer
The 77-year-old congressman who brags of never using a computer but always carrying a knife?
His wife convinced him to run for reelection before she died.
In August 2009, Young lost his wife of 46 years, Lu, his constant companion. If she hadn't persuaded him to file for re-election before her death, he might not have run last fall, Young said in an interview recently.
I'll end with this bizarre disclaimer from a syndicated gossip piece on Charlie Sheen (the online version is a little different from the print version - one of the dangers of online news: it can change over time, whereas hardcopy can't be doctored after the fact.)
The person familiar with the call, who was not authorized to publicly discuss details, spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.Talking about qualifying your facts . . . This was a story about Charlie Sheen going back into rehab. Did this source get paid or did the leaker violate Sheen's privacy and organizational procedures voluntarily? Look, it's reasonable for organizations to have some rules and structure for releases of information to the public. If the information were not released through regular channels (if that is required) in a timely way and there were some critical issue interest that's a different story. There's a difference between someone blowing the whistle because the organization is hiding damaging information the public really should know and handing tips to gossip columnists.