Predictably, Mark Begich (D-AK) is attempting to run away from, and even against, President Obama, who was never particularly popular in Alaska on his best day and is performing especially poorly now. Begich is so desperate to create space from Obama that he is attempting to create the impression that he is not just different from Obama; he is actively opposed to Obama.
BARROW, Alaska — When Sen. Mark Begich talks about his role in American politics, he describes himself as a sharp object, sent to Washington to jab at President Obama.
“I’ll be a thorn in his [posterior],” Begich (D-Alaska) said in an interview. “There’s times when I’m a total thorn, you know, and he doesn’t appreciate it.”
The problem, for Begich, is twofold. First, he was the deciding vote for Obamacare, which is Obama's most significant legislative accomplishment. The second is that he has an absolutely pitiful record of actually opposing anything Obama wants to do, so much so that even the Washington Post is forced to report his "efforts" with a half-snicker:
Begich, 52, is a first-term senator known for being pro-gun and pro-oil. But he is not actually that well known for anything. In the Senate, Begich is a junior figure, moving through the chamber’s power structure at the speed of a mastodon trapped in a glacier. Over five years, just one of his bills has been passed into law. It renamed a courthouse in Anchorage.
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The other big message of Begich’s campaign: He knows how to get tough with the Obama administration.
At a meeting with Fairbanks-area officials, for instance, Begich told a story about how he blocked the promotion of a three-star general, to pressure the Pentagon to give more details about a decision to move F-16 fighter jets from a local base.
“I held his fourth star until we had a little better information flow,” Begich said.
Whoa, hey, slow down there big fella. You temporarily held up the promotion of some guy no one in Alaska's ever heard of and who never did anything wrong until you got some answers? It's a marvel Obama isn't campaigning for your Republican opponents.
Of course, the biggest problem for Begich is that if Alaska voters want someone who is a real thorn in Obama's side, all they need to do is send a Republican to the Senate. How do we know this? Because literally all Obama ever does these days is whine and carp and complain about how the Republicans in Congress stop him from doing anything he wants to do. It's become essentially the number one thing he is known for.
There can be zero doubt that Begich would be far less of a hindrance to Obama's agenda than any one of the three Republicans he is running against. For proof of this, look no further than the fact that the Obama administration leaps to Begich's defense (even in the midst of an article about Begich running against Obama) in explaining how effective Begich has been at bringing home pork to Alaska:
Republicans have accused Begich of claiming too much credit, as Alaska’s entire congressional delegation has pushed for many of the same things he has. Still, former White House officials said Begich’s badgering did help move those oil projects along more quickly.
Obama “has a lot of respect for what he was trying to accomplish, which is running in a state with challenging politics,” said Heather Zichal, a former Obama administration staffer who worked on Alaskan oil issues. She said Begich was relentless in calling and prodding federal officials toward his point of view, which “helped make the difference between yes and no.”
The defense here illustrates what Alaska voters by now must surely know - that Begich's attempts to create space between himself and Obama are an absolute farce. If re-elected, he will stand side by side with Obama on everything that is important to Obama even if he occasionally blocks a meaningless promotion here or there. If Alaska voters really want a thorn in the side of Obama, they should elect a Republican.