By SHANNYN MOORE for the Anchorage Daily News
I was hoping the Alaska Republican Party would self-correct. The GOPers have had more than a month to make things right but haven’t yet seen a need. Oh, I know, they’re just as busy as the rest of us, getting ready for guests, looking for the top of the pressure cooker, wondering if sunburned mosquito bites were worth that day at the Slide Hole. (They were.)
See, there’s a bad penny that keeps showing up in Alaska politics. I wonder why Republicans don’t get rid of him, because sooner or later someone will write a story or column to remind everyone he’s a racist jerk — and then it just gets awkward.
After much recent turmoil over its leadership, our friends at the Alaska Republican Party have elected David Eichler as vice-chairman. He’s the No. 2 ranking party official in our state.
So, you say to yourself, “Eichler, Eichler, where do I know that name from … hmmm …”
OK, maybe you don’t remember the story. Maybe you weren’t paying as much attention a few years ago as you are now. No problem, I’ll catch you up.
Eichler is a dentist from North Pole who has had some pretty nasty things to say about First Alaskans. By “nasty” I mean racist. And by “North Pole” I mean the town near Fairbanks, not the northernmost point on Earth.
Eichler wrote in an online forum for dentists in the American Dental Association. In a discussion of dental care in rural Alaska, and reported by Rich Mauer in the Daily News, Eichler claimed that public health care “has left Natives free of personal responsibility” and chronically dependent.
“Eliminating special federal assistance for American Indians and Natives will improve matters,” he wrote. It will also “allow their integration into American society as dignified citizens.”
From his perch as the country’s leading dentist/historian, he concluded: “Any culture that allows such disease will soon disappear and rightfully so.”
Eichler wrote that in 2006. He embarrassed the dental association, which distanced itself from his views as quickly as possible.
I’m not sure if Gov. Sean Parnell or Eichler think the collective memory of Alaskans runs out every three to four years (although there is some evidence to support that idea).
Last year Parnell appointed Eichler to a position with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Right. That’s who we need refereeing political fairness in our state.
Nice pick, Sean. That’s what I call “Choosing Respect.”
So when different Native groups protested Eichler’s appointment, Parnell pulled a Parnell. He got the radioactive dentist to withdraw.
I know! I told you — the bad penny that keeps showing up!
So now Eichler hold the reins of the Republican Party here. I’m certain my rank and file Republican friends don’t share his racial views.
But I would ask Republican leaders in our state to stop pandering to the worst elements of their party, or go ahead and self-identify as racists. You can’t show up wearing a kuspuk to an event, smiling and waving, and then give Eichler a position from which to influence public policy.
What does Congressman Don Young have to say, for example? His beloved late wife and his children are Alaska Natives.
Sadly, we already know where the governor stands.
What does Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who wouldn’t be a senator if it hadn’t been for the support of Alaska Natives, think? She’s a Republican senator, for crying out loud, and this guy is running her party?
Without some kind of moral leadership from a Republican who matters, I guess we should all expect the bad pennies to just keep showing up.