Dems rudely jolted to life
A JOKE making the rounds is that until Congressman Ed Case announced he was going to try to unseat U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, a CSI team was about to be dispatched to Akaka's office to search for signs of life.
The 81-year-old Akaka clearly is one of Hawaii's favorite sons and a genuinely nice fellow. But let's face it, he's not the most exciting guy in the world. Until Case turned the Hawaii Democratic Party on its head, the only time we heard about Akaka was when the controversial "Akaka Bill" was being discussed, and that discussion usually was being conducted by people other than Akaka.
If you love the way Hawaii Democrats do business, then Akaka is everything good about the party. If not, then he's everything bad about it. On the good side, he's a loyal player on Team Inouye, having slogged through 30 years of relatively uninspiring congressional work as Sen. Daniel Inouye's right-hand shadow. On the bad side, he's a loyal player on Team Inouye, having slogged through ... Well, you get the idea.
Other than attaching his name to a Hawaiian-rights bill that is racing through Congress with the speed of a lethargic opihi, Akaka not only has not made waves during his tenure in the U.S. Senate, you wouldn't even know he was in the pool.
Now Case has done a big belly flop in the pool, getting loyal Democrats all wet and bothered. When Case suddenly announced his intention to take Akaka's seat (not to mention his desk, couch, coffee maker and throw rug), I thought I heard whimpering from the most loyal Democratic member of Team Inouye, Congressman Neil Abercrombie.
Abercrombie has been playing nicely by the Democratic rules, waiting for his turn to run for Senate. You could almost see him pulling on Inouye's pant leg, like a little schoolboy, pointing at Case and crying, "Can he do that?! He's not supposed to do that!"
Case pulled a fast one on Abercrombie. Pulled a fast one on the whole party. And it was about time. After Republican Linda Lingle punk-slapped that nearly comatose body in the last governor's race, you'd think someone would have slammed a defibrillator on the Hawaii Democratic Party and yelled, "CLEAR!"
Dr. Case has more or less done that now. And the patient isn't happy. Republicans shouldn't be too giddy about Case's bold move, either. Sure, it shows how moribund the Democrats have become. But it's bound to prod many usually complacent residents off the couch and into the voting booth this November. And most of those voters will be Democrats.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org