Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ted Stevens, 1923-2010. R.I.P.

Former Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens was killed in a plane crash last night near Dillingham in southwestern Alaska. He was 86.

Four other people also lost their lives in the crash. Five people, however, survived the crash including former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. Given how the rugged terrain and bad weather impeded rescuers it is a miracle that anyone survived at all.

I was not aware that Stevens had survived a plane crash in December 1978 which would claim the life of his first wife. But even before that crash Stevens apparently had a premonition he would die in a plane crash. Quin Hillyer has a post at The Washington Times highlighting the eerie way in which people are connected to each other by the manner in which they die.

Stevens served in the Senate for four decades becoming the longest serving Republican in that body. However, Stevens would not become a nationally known figure until the very end of his political career when he became a symbol of pork barrel spending gone amok with his vigorous support of the $400 million Bridge to Nowhere which would eventually be cancelled due to public outcry.

He would be subsequently indicted on seven charges of failing to report gifts from lobbyists. In October 2008, Stevens was convicted on all seven counts. His conviction came only days before his re-election bid for his seventh full term in office. However, Stevens would lose to Democrat Mark Begich. But just over six months later, Attorney General Eric Holder would move to have the convictions voided and the indictments against Stevens dismissed on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

Stevens received his first exposure to flight when he became a cargo pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII. He would receive an Air Medal and a Distinguished Flying Cross for flying behind enemy lines in the Pacific theatre.

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