Monday, September 17, 2007
Which of these for President?
Like it or not, the 2008 race for president is well underway. Fund-raising, advertising, polls...they're all going full blast. The media have apparently annointed Hillary Clinton as the "inevitable" Democratic nominee before a single vote has been cast. On the Republican side of things, the media are confounded by Rudy Giuliani and seem to be keeping their collective fingers crossed for Fred Thompson, the sock puppet.
I suppose the past 6 years have jaded me, but I find the polls and commentary put forth by the national media (with a very few exceptions) to be dross. I suspect the media of furthering their own disparate agendas. So, putting aside the drivel they spew, I'd like to take a look at the current crop of presidential hopefuls and see what shakes out.
Let's start with the Republicans, since the discussion will be very brief. With one exception, each of them lacks either the courage or the wit to oppose Bush's Iraq war. That disqualifies them out of hand. You've got to hand it to Junior: he's done a great job of coercing the members of his own party into going along with his train wreck of policy even though upwards of 60% of the American public finds it ridiculous. So be it. Let Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Big Fred, Mike Huckabee and all the other nobodies on the GOP presidential slate keep preaching as the house crashes down around them in flames. Good riddance. There's none in this clutch worth saving.
As for the Democrats, there are a few for which I can actually muster some enthusiasm.
My first choice, ideologically, would be Dennis Kucinich. His voice is strong for social justice, peace, and the restraint of corporate power. I voted for him in the 2004 Democratic primary. I will probably vote for him again if he is still in the race by the time the Oregon primary comes to pass. The unfortunate fact of the matter is, however, that Kucinich cannot win the nomination for one simple reason: his physical appearance. Whatever it may mean, Americans want a tallish, handsome man to be their leader. Kucinich is diminuitive, and his visage doesn't fit the myth of the classic ruggedly handsome American male. To be sure, Democrats should be wary of eschewing a great candidate in favor a a candidate that they think is "electable." That mindset proved disastrous in 2004. Nonetheless, there are ridiculous political realites that are perpetuated by the cathode ray tube. C'est la vie.
Another good choice, I think, is Senator Chris Dodd from Connecticut. Senator Dodd has expressed outrage at the constitutional abuses of the Bush administration. He is demanding a change in Iraq policy. (Although this is to his credit, it is tempered by the fact that Senator Dodd voted Yea on the Iraq War resolution in October 2002.) Senator Dodd is an old-school, blue collar Democrat, having already won the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). And I like his hard-nosed debating style. He cannot be intimidated and has no reservations about calling out his opponents inconsistencies and inaccuracies. He's a fighter and God knows we could use one.
But, as of this moment, my choice for president is John Edwards. The former senator from North Carolina has a very specific plan for universal health care, focuses on the need to fight poverty in the United States and the world, calls for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and recognizes the need to act to stop the atrocities in Darfur. Although he did vote for the Iraq War resolution while a member of the Senate, he has since called that vote a mistake. Further, Edwards impressed me with his refusal to accept the terms of the terrorism debate. He said of the Bush's War on Terror: "[It] is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It's a bumper sticker, not a plan." That is telling it like it is, as far as I'm concerned.
There are other candidates that I would consider: Bill Richardson or Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton, however, just like her husband before her, has blurred the line between her own policies and those of the Republicans to the extent that there is little to distinguish her from them. Mike Gravel is charming, but nutty. Joe Biden might make a good secretary of state, but we don't need a show horse for president.
The clincher for me will be the candidate that voices enthusiasm for full investigations into the Bush administration. The candidate that demands justice the loudest and most sincerely will almost certainly get my vote. I want to get to the bottom of each and every stinky scandal that Bush and his gang have tried to pull off, and, if warranted I want stiff prison sentences handed down. Hell, if the evidence is uncovered to support it, I'd advocate extradicting Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to the Hague to stand trial as war criminals.
If current trends hold, though, the Republican party is in for a whipping that will dwarf the pounding they took in 2006. It remains to be seen if the damage that the Bush administration has done can be healed, but at least the people responsible will be publicly repudiated, humiliated, and discredited. There's some comfort in that.