It’s Time For Akaka To Bow Out

Sen. Dan Akaka
File photo

Here’s the tough question. Should this year’s well-over-the-majority Democratic leadership of Hawaii ask beloved U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka to step down so there’s a hardier candidate in place for 2012 when former Gov. Linda Lingle almost surely will run?

If Akaka resigns, Gov. Neil Abercrombie gets a replacement pick. Given today’s players, that would have to be either Mufi Hannemann for good political sportsmanship, or Mazie Hirono or Colleen Hanabusa because they are there in Washington and know the game.

The wild card would be Ed Case. Unacceptable? You can’t say that because in an open 2012 field he could split the ticket as he did in the 2010 Congress primary. Why not bring him into the tent?

I don’t like appointed politicians in an elective society. That defeats our system. But is the Akaka case an exception?

Yes, on a couple of levels. He’s not the game player he once was. Ask those who interview him these days. He’s not playing at the same level as his age mate, Dan Inouye. Nice as they come, but not tough enough and focused enough. He just got dumped from Veterans Affairs.

He’d likely get crushed in 2012 by either Lingle or Case as younger, more-Internet-active voters come along. Not just beaten, mind you, crushed.

The party leaders know this. But how do you tell an icon, who’d probably like to eventually lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda as the first Native Hawaiian senator, to step aside?

Well, I guess you have to offer him something so good he can’t say no. But what is that? He’s reached the pinnacle.

Maybe he’ll take this column to heart. I don’t write it with any malice. I love the man. I voted for him last time around and every time since I came here.

But, Dan, we all need to know when our time has come and we can’t pitch the perfect game any more. Remember when I felt my time had come at KGMB in 1994? My game was not at it’s peak and I volunteered a goodbye. Nobody had to ask me I go.

Your leaving would put a hole in our hearts because you’ve been the Good Senator. Not the Knee-Capper or the Schemer. They tell me that when you give your word you never, ever go back on it. That’s the highest accolade any of us can get in this life. That, and having never dishonored your name. That’s you, Dan.

This has not been an easy column for me to write. You, Dan, embody the best of our people. I wish I were imbued with your degree of kindness and graciousness. I either wasn’t born with it or didn’t learn it to your extent.

It’s only my brashness that allows me to ask you to step down.

Two singers in a row mangled the words to our national anthem. David Archuleta at the Pro Bowl. Christina Aguilera at the Super Bowl.

Changed my mind on best movie of 2010. It’s Winter’s Bone.

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