Sen. Ted Stevens, the enormously powerful Republican from Alaska, has been indicted on seven counts of falsifying his financial disclosure forms, but don't expect his colleagues to break ranks and stand tall on moral grounds.
Why? The Senate is a very cozy club. Its members are mostly millionaires and they serve six years, not two as in the House. And every senator has the power to derail legislation, making each senator many more times more powerful than the average House member.
And senators are, in one of their favorite terms in that august chamber, collegial. Since they can all sabotage each other should they wish to, they all tend to be very nice to each other lest things falls apart.
Consider the immediate reaction of Stevens' close friend and seantorial colleague, Daniel Inouye. this Democrat who is co-chair of the Senate Commerce Committee with Stevens (a rare mark of their close working relationship), told Congressional Quarterly that his friend should be considered innocent unless proven guilty.
Several hours later, Stevens issued a statement declaring his innocence.
A veteran watcher of Stevens and the Senate appropriations process -- of which Stevens is a grand -- master put it this way: "I expect Stevens's colleagues in the Senate to remain steadfast in his defense. However, the indictment certainly doesn't help his reelection bid." Stevens faces challenges from six GOP candidates in the state's Aug. 26 GOP primary.