Isn't it time to start doing the right thing?

The scales of justice have tipped against Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in his trial. He was found guilty on all counts. In the old days (whenever those days were), the right, honorable thing for the sitting politician to do was step down. But today the old bear has come out swinging, indicating that he will seek reelection.

If ever there were a time for the leadership in the Republican Party to put principle before politics, it’s now. Now is the time for every officer to call for Stevens’s resignation.

The senator should have done that the moment a jury of his peers found him guilty. I personally felt he should have stepped down sooner, when he was indicted, but that time has long since come and gone.

Why? We’re beyond the bounds of judicial proceedings and all the trappings of what constitutes a fair trial. There’s no question that Sen. Stevens received a fair trial, but that’s beside the point.

Stevens is a public figure and an icon in the party. Yet that party is in a state of total disarray and chaos now, partly because members like him flout the law, break it seemingly without shame, and then defy the consequences for as long as they think they can. That’s not consistent with serving the public good; it’s petty, selfish and personifies stupidity.

Alaskans are known for their independence. And they love to defy what conventional wisdom teaches. But Sen. Stevens knows better, and the Republican Party knows better.

Tolstoy once wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself.” The change the GOP needs must begin from within. Set the example today! The first steps toward a Republican Renaissance begin with what the party and its supporters do with scofflaws like Ted Stevens. If they don’t, it will breed even more cynicism and doubt regarding the party’s ability to lead this nation through any moral test.

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