Berkowitz placed the tank on the table, between himself and the Governor. Parnell snickered at first, in that vacuous way that has earned him the nickname "Captain Zero," from Rep. Don Young. Then he came to life, and in a bit of rage, he grabbed the tank, removed it from the table, and clunked it heavily on the floor, out of view. He then seized the microphone, and sort of went "That's not fair!"
If there ever was a capsule-sized metaphor for the differences in thinking between these two candidates, this is it, folks. One of them, Ethan, with a bit of imagination and a fair dose of snark, shows clearly that he's willing to get gas to Southcentral, even if he and Diane have to haul it themselves. And Parnell's only response is to immediately do his best to hide an obvious, painfully stark fact from view.
Here's a bit from Jason Lamb's report for KTUU TV on the exchange and on the paper jabs back and forth between Parnell and Berkowitz on Tuesday and Wednesday:
“This is the only gas that's been shipped from the North Slope to Southcentral,” Berkowitz said, setting the tank on the table between him and Parnell. “I and (lieutenant-governor running mate) Diane Benson brought this gas here today.”
“I think we need more than a propane tank -- we need a pipeline,” Parnell said, setting the tank on the floor as he answered a question from the floor.
That was only the start of the jabs traded this week between Berkowitz and Parnell.
In a press release issued Tuesday, Parnell claims Berkowitz’s plan to let individuals buy shares of a natural gas pipeline would cost the state nearly 2,000 jobs. Parnell said Alaskans wouldn't want to put their own Permanent Fund Dividend money toward a pipeline without a buyer, seller, shipper or concrete plan.
On Wednesday, Berkowitz sent out a statement saying Parnell has effectively admitted that the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act’s pipeline plan, championed by former Gov. Sarah Palin and continued by Parnell, is now officially a failure.
“Sean Parnell's acknowledging that the AGIA process hasn't yielded any concrete buyers or sellers or any real plan,” Berkowitz said.
The Parnell campaign responded in a statement Wednesday.
“Ethan can attack all he wants, but Governor Parnell is going to stay focused on creating jobs for Alaska’s families and providing the leadership with experience, values and vision Alaska needs now,” Parnell campaign manager Michelle Toohey said in the statement.
And here's KTUU's video of Parnell's reaction to Berkowitz' challenge:
After the debate, Ethan was out in Palmer, at a fundraiser put on for the Berkowitz-Benson campaign by some Mat-Su Democrats. During the question-and-answer session after their talks, I asked Ethan about the Chamber debate, and how he managed to keep from falling asleep when engaging the guy who "put the 'lack' in lackluster"?
Responding, Ethan noted that by raising Parnell's ire, a new element had been inserted into the race, maybe unintentionally. Now Parnell looked lifelike, which may have its down side.
II. Yesterday, while driving into work early to help set up the stage for Anchorage Symphony director, Randy Fleischer, to speak to my class about Beethoven's 5th Symphony, I was listening to KENI AM radio talk host Rick Rydell. He was talking about both the exchange of position papers between Parnell and Berkowitz, and the Berkowitz campaign's proposal to drop income taxes on small businesses in Alaska.
If you download the podcast, Rydell spent the last 25 minutes praising both aspects of this campaign, all but endorsing the Democrats. Additionally, he tore the Parnell campaign's business strategy to shreds.
He then backed off, but noted that in terms of having imaginative ideas that encourage business investment here, Berkowitz "is the conservative," and that Parnell "has done nothing" for the business community in Alaska:
Parnell hasn't done anything! (followed by Indecipherable frustrated epithet)
Here's the problem I have with Parnell's campaign: You had it in the bag. All you had to do was come forth and say "OK, I inherited this Governor's job, here's what we've done so far. Comng up in the next four years, here's what you have to look forward to" ..... because all we can look at now is a failed pipeline plan with no buyers, sellers, shippers, or a concrete plan - as said by the Parnell campaign - and the same old stuff.
Rydell goes on to shame the "highlights" of the least imaginative gubernatorial administration in state history.
The Berkowitz-Benson campaign is launching an imaginative ad campaign this week. They're also continuing to issue position papers that are quite meaningful in their content, irrespective of the obvious comparisons to Parnell-Tread Meanswell (did I get that right?) retreaded putdowns of actions Berkowitz took while in the legislature a decade ago.
The Parnell campaign's responses to these rather imaginative ideas remind me of nothing more than of practice press releases issued by somebody auditioning to be chief of Sarah Palin's "Department of 8th Grade-level Putdowns."
Sorry, Sean. Those positions are already filled.