UPDATE: Well, the story had been confirmed by a friend of Stevens, but it appears we are in “fog of war” territory here as far as news is concerned.
Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has been confirmed killed in a small-plane crash in Alaska this morning. Stevens was 86. It’s ironic that Senator Stevens would meet his end in a plane crash; he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II and survived a 1978 plane crash that killed his first wife.
Stevens was a monumental figure in Alaska politics and the Alaska GOP, and had a long and fascinating life – I’d recommend taking a few minutes to peruse his biography on Wikipedia (for want of a better source, though the Anchorage Daily News will doubtless have a more comprehensive profile shortly) for samples of some of the now-uncontroversial parts of his life story, from delivering newspapers with news of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping to why he didn’t become a fighter pilot to his days as a cigar-chomping frontier prosecutor to his Incredible Hulk neckties. (For example – more on which here – Stevens was instrumental in overcoming then-President Eisenhower’s concern that Alaska statehood would leave Alaska vulnerable to Soviet invasion given its proximity to Russia). Stevens throughout his career was a proponent of a strong military. During World War II he flew C-46 and C-47 transports behind enemy lines over China, earning him decorations as well from the Nationalist Chinese government.
While at the end of his decades-long Senate career he became something of a poster boy for Senators who’d stayed in DC too long and grown too cozy with its big-spending, favor-dispensing ways – one of this site’s most controversial editorials was when we advocated for him to be voted out of office in 2008, after which it was revealed that he’d been wrongfully convicted of improprieties by Justice Department misconduct – those later years and the various political and policy disagreements that inevitably surround long-serving Senators shouldn’t obscure the whole of the man’s life.