Opinion: The pulse of fealty

Let’s be honest. Trump’s demands go beyond his one stated condition.

  • Monday, January 10, 2022 11:19pm
  • Opinion

According to Donald Trump, “Mike Dunleavy of Alaska has been, and will be, a great Governor. He has the courage of his convictions.” But in order to earn that endorsement, Dunleavy had to agree not to endorse Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her bid for reelection.

Let’s be honest. Trump’s demands go beyond his one stated condition. Refuting his lie that the election was stolen would also cost Dunleavy the endorsement. As would insinuating Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Murkowski is one of the few Republicans in Congress to stand firm behind both truths. Immediately after that day of infamy, she called on Trump to resign. Then voted to convict him at the Senate’s impeachment trial.

But Trump focused his grievance scope on her months before all that. It happened after former Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a blistering rebuke during the national unrest over the police killing of George Floyd.

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis said. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

Murkowski agreed. She said Mattis’ statement was “true and honest and necessary and overdue.”

Trump wasted no time responding to her.

“Few people know where they’ll be in two years from now, but I do, in the Great State of Alaska (which I love) campaigning against Senator Lisa Murkowski. … Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I’m endorsing. If you have a pulse, I’m with you!”

It was his patented style of warning Republicans everywhere not to criticize anything he does or says.

That’s why Dunleavy complied with Trump’s demand. But he did it via a private message. After thanking Trump, he wrote, “With regard to the other issue,” (meaning not endorsing Murkowski) “please tell the President he has nothing to worry about. I appreciate all 45 has done for Alaska and this country.”

Only a malignant narcissist like Trump could find courage and conviction in such a carefully worded, non-public statement of acquiescence and flattery.

What makes this story more pathetic is in his offer to endorse Dunleavy, Trump never mentioned the real reason why he opposes Murkowski. He tried to mask his grievances by blaming her for the suspended oil exploration leases on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Murkowski, he wrote, “has been very bad for Alaska, including losing ANWAR [sic], perhaps the most important drilling site in the world, and much else.” After Dunleavy sent his reply, Trump accused her of “single-handedly” blowing oil development there.

The true story is it was Murkowski who added the provision for opening up ANWR to the 2017 tax reform bill passed by Congress. In December 2020, Trump’s administration solicited bids to lease almost a million acres on 22 tracts. Alaska’s top three oil producers weren’t interested in any of them. The state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority was the highest bidder on nine of the 11 tracts for which bids were received.

Then last June, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland suspended the leases pending an environmental review. And Trump previously argued that Murkowski wasn’t “standing up for Alaska” when she voted to confirm Haaland to her cabinet post.

Well, Sen. Dan Sullivan voted to confirm her, too.

Sullivan has already endorsed Murkowski. But don’t expect him to defend her now or correct Trump’s tale about ANWR.

To his credit, at the conclusion of the impeachment trial, Sullivan did “condemn Trump’s poor judgment in calling a rally” on Jan, 6, “and his actions and inactions when it turned into a riot.” But that one statement was only time since Trump was elected that he dared share his true convictions about him. And Sullivan used a lame technicality to justify voting to acquit Trump.

Now if a colonel in U.S. Marine Corps Reserve is so easily intimated by Trump’s bullying, why would anybody expect a teacher-turned-politician like Dunleavy to have the courage to tell voters what he really believes. Instead, the man who claims to stand tall for Alaska let us know his pulse is beating with absolute fealty to Trump.

• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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