Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Tea Party and Alaska’s Joe Miller

I've gotten a lot of entertainment watching the Senate election campaign by Alaska's Tea Party favorite Joe Miller. His campaign has been a Chinese fire drill of missteps and malapropisms from almost the very beginning. Now, he is widely considered by most Alaskans as a 'Nut Job'. In the primary election, Miller was a kind of a ‘sleeper’ Tea Party supported candidate who captured the Republican senatorial nomination by catching a complacent sitting Senator Lisa Murkowski by surprise. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party threw support and buckets of out-of-state money into both the primary and the general elections.

Finally awakening to what was happening, Murkowski mounted an apparently successful write-in campaign to win the vote in the general election. When and if she is certified she will become only the second senator in history to do so, and the first since 1954 when Strom Thurman won a write-in campaign in South Carolina. The decision is now tied up in several court cases. Joe Miller is pulling out all the stops to block Murkowski from being certified the winner. The Tea Party, and especially Republican Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina are fighting a desperate last ditch battle in the hopes of having Miller put in office over the wishes of the people of the state of Alaska.

Someone called Miller a ‘descendant’ of the infamous Soapy Smith of Gold Rush days in Skagway, Alaska. He certainly looks the part. Soapy was the iconic con man originally from Georgia, who moved to Skagway in 1897 and gathered a large and intimidating gang to become the de facto ruler of the town. Ol’ Soapy had his fingers in just about every pie around and his gang enforced his rule with force of arms and bullying. He even formed his own ‘militia’, naming himself as captain, which was recognized by the US War Department, and which he used to help him control the town of Skagway.

Soapy Smith was ultimately confronted and shot to death by Frank Reid, who himself was wounded and died twelve days later. Reid was part of a vigilante committee formed to combat Soapy’s nefarious criminal activities
And, indeed the similarities between Joe Miller and Soapy Smith give one pause, especially the striking physical resemblances. Both came from ‘away’. Both lied, distorted and twisted facts. Miller has loudly and incessantly decried all government aid as ‘handouts’ while taking advantage of a great amount himself, or for his family. Soapy Smith’s ‘handouts’ were the ones he grabbed for himself through cons and swindles. I think my favorite Soapy Smith tale is about the fake telegraph office soapy set up for miners. For a charge of $5 he would ‘send’ a telegram back home for them - when telegraph lines did not even exist to Skagway at the time.

But, there does seem to be one big difference; Soapy Smith seems to have been extraordinarily intelligent, while Miller appears to just be one great big, bitter, whiny, deceitful Tea Party Republican dumb ass.


  1. Hi, G.E..

    I am a great-grandson of Jefferson Randolph Smith II, alias "Soapy." I authored a far better and much more detailed book in 2009 called, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel. In the 25-years of research I did for the book I can positively tell you that Soapy was not fond of politicians. He was once quoted by a Denver reporter in 1896 as stating, "I consider bunco steering more honorable than the life led by the average politician." I am positive he would find it an insult being compared to today's politicians as so many seem to do.

    For the real story of Soapy Smith (not whitewashed) I invite you to visit my sites below. Thank you.

    Jeff Smith

  2. Thanks Jeff - I will definitely visit your site and check out your book. As a student of arcane and little known history I'm sure I will enjoy your viewpoint as an actual relative of Soapy Smith. I love the quote you provided: "I consider bunco steering to be more honorable than the life led by the average politician.' Priceless!

    And, I meant no disrespect to Soapy Smith in my comparison. In fact, you will note I compared his intelligence asbeing far above Mr. Miller's.

  3. Thank you for your response. I did not view your original article as disrespectful towards Soapy. I don't pretend that he was one of the good guys. I think you will find my book of great historical value with tons of new, never before published information.


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