Conclusions: Wrapping up the May 2006 Akaka Corrections

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Editorial comment by Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.

Senator Akaka promised to speak about the Akaka bill on the floor of the Senate every day until the bill came to the floor for debate. He did give a short speech every day for five days, but then stopped. He stopped after he reported an agreement with Senator Frist that a cloture petition would be introduced and the bill would be heard the week of June 5.

The fact that Senator Akaka stopped after only five days clearly shows his promise to speak every day was actually a threat: schedule the bill or else the Senate will be forced to listen to me every day! As soon as Senator Frist met Senator Akaka's demand, there were no more speeches. Senator Akaka's behavior is very "un-Hawaiian." The Hawaiian word for Senator Akaka's behavior is "maha'oi" -- rude; disrespectful; barging in.

Senator Akaka had plenty of opportunities every day to speak. That's why there's an item in the list of Akaka corrections for every day the Senate was in session for the remainder of May -- to provide examples showing that other Senators had no difficulty speaking on a great variety of different topics not related to the main topic under discussion in the Senate. Placing those "corrections" for each day Senator Akaka did NOT speak is like placing an empty chair on the stage for a debate where one of the principals refuses to appear.

Why did Senator Akaka stop speaking? The answer is simple. He does not really want to call attention to his bill. He does not want Senators or the general public to study the bill or even to think about it. If he wanted people to learn about the bill, he could and SHOULD have used his right to speak about it every day.

Senator Akaka passed up a chance every day to "educate" his colleagues and all America about the Akaka bill. The reason why is obvious -- he doesn't want them to learn what's in the bill; and he doesn't want to invite opponents to to engage in honest, open debate. He hopes to pass the bill with as little debate as possible, by trading votes with other Senators on other topics even when those Senators would probably oppose the Akaka bill on principle. Most Republican Senators who agreed to vote-trading deals and signed on to support the Akaka bill probably regret their decision the more they learn about the bill. They would probably like to avoid actually casting the vote they pledged to Senator Akaka in return for Akaka and Inouye agreeing to oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, for example. By forcing the bill to come to the floor, Senator Akaka forces honorable Senators to cast a vote they pledged but find distasteful.