Archive for the ‘Bill Richardson’ category

The Candidate and the Team

August 14, 2008

In this marathon 2008 Presidential primary and national election season, we have been exposed to a lot of candidates and a lot of campaign staffs.  Thinking back the candidates fell into certain catagories.  These catagories were differentiated by how much the average citizen was attracted to the candidates and how their staffs projected them.  Here is my ranking of the candidate catagories.

1. Early in, early out.  This group included Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel, Ducan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, and Jim Gilmore.  These candidates announced early, gave a few good speeches, and dropped by the wayside.  They were either one issue candidates or were simply too unknown to stir the hearts of a nation.  Their campaign staffs stuck pretty much to the basics and acted honorably.

2. A little flash, then the dash.  This second group contained John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney  and Fred Thompson.  This group appealed to a national base and chose certain themes that excited narrow interests.  Their campaigns searched for ways to differentiate the candidate but in the end it was the amount of money they had raised that determined their early departure.

3. The glorious twins.  At opposite ends of the political spectrum, but thoroughly committed to their advocacies, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich represented what is truly great about politics.  These two campaigners presented their cases in a straight forward and above board manner.  Interestingly Ron Paul struck a chord across a wide spectrum of voters and did so without slamming any opponent.  (Ralph Nader could take lessons.)  Both candidates simply could not get enough votes.

4. The second best hands.  In this next to last group we find two serious contenders who played to special interests while trying to appeal to everyone.  Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton ran legitimate campaigns that arguably could have won had either of the presumptive candidates stumbled.  In this near “winning” group, however, we see the campaign team departing from who the candidates tried to say they were.  Worse, we saw Mike and Hillary stooping to enlarging the truth about themselves and omitting or misleading the truth about their opponents.  Lost was the discussion of issues and why they would be able to deliver on their promise, and instead it was why they were a better choice than their opponent.

5. The presumptive candidates.  John McCain and Barack Obama are the two left standing.  In full glory we now see the campaigns and we must strain to see the candidates themselves.  The mud has begun to fly and soon it will be impossible to know which one threw first.  Money is still king and the one with the most will have a big advanatage (no surprise).  This time around the Democratic candidate will have plenty of money and could outspend McCain.

Having lots of money is necessary but also comes with its own limitations.  The major problem is who will decide what image is portrayed for each candidate.  You would hope it is the candidate himself but don’t jump too quickly to that conclusion.  This is a great test of the commander in chief skills that Obama and McCain possess.  Can they keep to the facts and proposed policies, or will they resort to fear and slander?

This is also an important time to listen for signs that either candidate will lack the prerequisite skills to be a chief executive and become a disappointment like George W Bush.  Bush looks Presidential in pictures but that is the end of it.  He has been unable to select sensible policies, choses fear and division to distract voters, and has been a complete failure at managing the business of Government.  We must look carefully at both candidates and select the one who will try to unite all Americans, has policies that fit the US now, and who has the stamina and interest in seeing the work of Government finished.

Judas

March 25, 2008

What a waste of time.  With all the important events happening every day, some news reporter took the time to interview James Carville and ask him about Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Barack Obama.  Carville is among the worst of the worst for spin.  He and Karl Rove could be a wonderful addition to Fox News… “Fair and Unbalanced”.

Carville pronounced Richardson a modern day Judas for announcing his support for Obama.  What point was Carville trying to make?  It is a matter of public record that Richardson held two cabinet positions in the Bill Clinton White House and watched this year’s Super Bowl game with Bill too.  For Richardson to endorse Obama is clearly a blow to the Clintons and one that is hard to explain.  But Carville calling Richardson “Judas” is the pot calling the kettle black.  Carville will sell anyone out in order to keep himself in headlights of public attention.

The irony is that if Hillary were to be elected President, Carville would be an influencer within the Clinton circles.  If John McCain were to be elected President instead, Carville’s wife Mary Matalin would retain her influence in the Republican Administration.  The only option that is bad for both of them is an Obama Presidency.  With his divisive cry of Judas, Carville is only digging the hole of “divider not uniter” that Hillary is in, a little deeper, and making his chances of gaining access to the White House that much less.

Politics of Friendship

March 22, 2008

Governor Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama yesterday driving a spike into Hillary’s back.  Richardson, who held two different positions in the Bill Clinton White House, felt he could not endorse Hillary or hold a neutral position any longer, so the time was right to endorse Barack.  To be sure, Richardson is a serious and thoughtful politician, so his endorsement can not be taken lightly.  It is a blow to Hillary’s chances.

Richardson’s endorsement is likely to have little or no affect on the upcoming Pennsylvania primary.  Those who will vote for Hillary will not be swayed by Richardson’s reasons.  They are supporting Hillary either because she is a woman or because they feel she is more likely to deal with their economic situation.  They are actually not too concerned about who answers the red phone at 3 am.

If we play out this primary battle, we should expect Obama and Clinton to arrive at the convention without sufficient delegates to win.  It will be up to the convention to decide.  Richardson’s support adds to a growing list of Party leaders who see Obama as a uniter and not a lightning rod.  These leaders feel more certain that Obama can win (in a year when there is no excuse for a Democrat to lose).  They also believe Hillary could win and would undoubtedly be an excellent President (heads and shoulders better than “W”), but Hillary could lose too.  Hillary looks to them as to big a risk.

Unless there is some revelations about Obama that come up soon, the nomination is tilting more and more to him.  John Edwards is one voice that could change this inevitability (or at least put the outcome back in question) should he endorse Hillary.  On the other hand, Edwards’ endorsement of Obama would seal the deal.  And speaking of deals, I wonder what Richardson and Edwards would get from the Obama camp?  They could play the “politics of friendship” game.

Democratic Assessment

January 10, 2008

It would appear that the Democrats are down to three serious candidates.  Bill Richardson is poised to announce his withdrawal today and Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, while interesting were never serious candidates.  Barack, Hillary, or John would make a competent President and we can be assured that with any of them, there would be no repeat of the Bush/Cheney raid on human and civil rights.

The race to pick the President nominee has still a long way to run.  One might say, in fact, that the Presidency is the Democrats to lose.  Only the Democrats beating themselves will put a Republican in the White House in 2009.  But it has been done before.  Here’s some advice:

1. Hillary needs to run a straight up, here’s what I will do campaign.  She does not need to speak poorly of Barack or John because she has the inherent lead in voters and she has the resources to win.  Hillary’s loss in Iowa and close call in New Hampshire can be traced to a sterile packaging of Hillary.  She appeared smug and aloof.  Rather than admit, you got me there, she would deny what was obvious and blame the other person.  It is not necessary.  Play to women and the middle, not the extremes.

2. Barack needs to clarify his change message to be clear that the change is from George W Bush policies first and foremost.  He can amplify that he will not be a safe haven for lobbyists although this will be a very difficult promise to live up to (but for now it is safe).  He should continue is message of inclusion and head for the center.

3. John Edwards has the most difficult road to take.  His message simply will not win because it appeals to too few people.  He needs to continue his message but broaden it to appeal to a greater share of the center.  Regardless his only chance is as a compromise candidate should Hillary and Barack become deadlocked and unwilling to compromise.  Under these circumstances he can not afford to alienate any elements of the Democratic Party now.

There is a huge club waiting to be used in the actual Presidential race.  The club is called fiscal responsibility or better, the lack of it under the Republican Bush Administration.  The Republican standard bearer, whomever that will be, will surely point to each plank in the Democrat’s platform and call it wasteful and too expensive.  Yet sitting out there in front of every one is a Trillion dolar war that was a war of choice (and deception).  When ever the Democrats are accused of spending too much on healthcare, the response should be, it is less than the cost of the Iraq War and will not cost 4000 American lives.

Our Country needs a time for healing and a time to refocus on what are really those issues in our national interests.  China and India are not going to go away.  Russia is still going to hold enormous energy reserves and will be the Russia we see today.  Africa will continue to be a mess as will the Middle East.  Both Africa and the Middle East are about the haves and have nots and only secondarily about ethnic or religious differences.  In the US we have very serious problems that will not go away either.  Look in any major city and see how the poor exist.  It is not enough to say it is a problem of education (although the poor are uneducated), it is not enough to say it is a problem of jobs (although the poor lack jobs or jobs that pay enough), and it is not a problem of broken or single parent families (although the poor overwhelmingly have dysfunctional families), it is all of this and more.  How to break this chain will not come from lower taxes, less government, more guns, pro-life, or fear of terrorists.  And it may not come from better healthcare, a new version of no child left behind, higher taxes, gun controls, or big government.  I do not know the answer but I am sure it will take dramatic steps that are inclusive, respectful, and above all offer the poor a full seat at the table.  Like any other immigrant group in the past (some say the poor are not immigrants), the excluded group must earn its way into the greater group.  This will be the task of a new Presidency, how to initiate this process, see that it keeps going, and still keep focus on all the other issues.

Bill Moyers

January 5, 2008

Last evening Bill Moyers held an information session on the 2008 Presidential nomination process that should make all other honest media stars ashamed.  Bill interviewed Kathleen Hall Jamieson, author and University of Pennsylvania professor, Ron Paul, and Dennis Kucinich.  It was a gift to sane thinking and a wake up call to the hash that mainstream TV, radio, and newsprint are serving up on this race.

Ms Jamieson was positive on every account and underscored the great loss to a relevent discussion that results when Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich are denied participation in any of the televised debates.  Following Ms Jamieson, Ron and Dennis demonstrated why.  While totally opposite on how they see a just and practical world, the shined a bright spot light on the thin and often dead end view of Government policy that the leading candidates espouse.

Ron Paul is a phenomenon that should be studied closely.  He stands for so many things that are not practiced today (no soldiers overseas, no or very little taxes, no Federal Reserve, free speech, right to privacy etc).  It is very difficult to see how you can get from here to there.  Despite that, Paul is raising more money that most of the other candidates and none of it seems to be coming from special interests.

Dennis Kucinich reminds me a little of Hubert Humphrey (the happy warrior).  Dennis speaks of a world watched over by a caring government where no one goes without basic needs.  In Dennis’ world, everyone has a job, cheerfully contributes their fair tax share, and is never called upon to bare arms since the government conducts its foreign policy such that wars do not occur.

Yet amazingly these two projections of extremes show that somewhere in between there is some center ground that might be both better than the Bush extremism and achievable.  These two candidates are serving America mightily and should be listened too, if only to provide a guide to a better position than present.

Iowa Speaks

January 4, 2008

Iowa voters made it official with their selection of Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama as winners of the Republican and Democratic caucuses.  Both victories have to be described as impressive since both candidates attracted many new voters.  It remains unclear what this will mean long term but their individual candidacies have been given a shot of credibility.  Here are some other observations and possible projections.

1. The ranks of candidates should decrease sharply in the days ahead.  Already Joe Biden and Chris Dodd announced they were withdrawing.  Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich should not be far behind.  Ducan Hunter must be independently wealthy if he stays in much longer with an absolute zero chance.

2. While Romney may be qualification-wise the best Republican candidate, the Iowa vote is a strong indicator that he will lose to anyone with an ounce of charisma.

3. Rudy was able to under achieve his already low expectations.  His strategy of waiting until Florida is a very long shot and will require that the current leaders to self destruct.

4. Fred Thompson missed his opportunity to bow out and endorse John McCain.  Fred managed to get more votes than John.

5. John Edwards is holding the perverbial 2nd best hand and will plow on to a near certain defeat in each of the next states.  I do not see his presence as enhancing the choice between Hillary and Barack and therefore he will be a distraction.

6. Bill Richardson is on track to be a strong VP candidate.

7. Hillary is in for the long haul and we will soon know whether she is honorable enough to be President.  Her best chance is to appeal to voters on the basis of maturity and experience and that as a woman, she brings a new and distinctively additive view on domestic and foreign issues.  She has the resources and the organization to still win.  If, however, she stoops to slimming Barack, then for my money she is not worthy of the top position.

8. Michael Bloomberg, I would think, is very pleased with the Iowa outcome.  Bloomberg could beat a creationist who does not pay much attention to the news.  If Iowa means Hillary is mortally wounded, then Bloomberg is freed of a large worry.  But Bloomberg is not so simple as to overlook Obama’s appeal to voters.  A Bloomberg candadacy will require more insight into potential Obama weaknesses.

On to New Hampshire and the next round.

“Change” From What

January 3, 2008

For some reason or other, I did not receive the memo that explained why “change” was so important in the sense that I hear each candidate saying in Iowa.  I guess when the field of candidates for the 2008 Presidential Party nomination is so crowded, you have to go with what you think works.  And from the world of sailing, never leave your opponent uncovered if you are in the lead seems to apply too.  But why the Democratic candidates (and most of the Republican ones too) can not compare themselves to George W Bush’s record, I can not understand.

You can not blame the big corporations (as a whole), or the many special interests, or the fanantical evangelicals for the unleashing of Dick Cheney, the maraudering of Colonel Rummy, the invasion of Iraq, the debacle of Katrina, the assault on individual civil and human rights, the blind eye to due process, and the use of secret classification to deny Congress any oversight.  For sure there is a problem with campaign costs and their financing and it needs to be fixed.  But that problem pales in comparison to wholesale trashing of the balance of powers and visable contempt for human rights that has marked the Bush years.

Iowa and then New Hampshire will hopefully purge these misguided claims that any of the candidates will “change Washington’s ways”.  After these two, way over done spectacles, the candidates can focus on what is really important.  Even John McCain could renounce the current Administration’s assault on civil and human rights and still be for a strong defense.  Romney is like a weathervane and will switch when it becomes fashionable.  My real concerns, however, lie with Barack and Hillary who are most likely to be the leading Democrats.  If they switch the rhetoric to something they can deliver, like restoring human and civil rights, then the others will follow.

Iowa

January 2, 2008

Tomorrow the Iowa caucuses will be held and the world will hardly change.  To be sure there will be much press coverage and whatever the results, the pundits will speak great volumes.  What will the results tell us that we do not already know?   Here are some idea.

1. Mike Gravel and Duncan Hunter will pick up less than 5 votes each.

2. Dennis Kucinich will tie his poor showing to his honesty on UFO sightings.

3. Ron Paul will thank Iowans for their money and move on to New Hampshire.

4. Rudy will spend the day in Florida since it is warmer there and he really never liked Iowa.

5 Chris Dodd will begin the process of taking his kids out of Iowa schools and moving them back to Connecticut.

6. Joe Biden will declare victory having not overcome the disadvantages of running a clean and honest campaign.

7. Fred Thompson will sleep through the day and wake up Friday only to find out that he finished fourth.  Bill Richardson will also finish fourth and will call it a strategic victory.

8. Hillary and John Edwards will boast of their strong showings (admittedly third and second respectively) and move on to New Hampshire.  Musharraf (President of Pakistan) will call Edwards and say “you turkey, I thought you said you were going to win”.

9. John McCain and Mitt Romney will issue a joint statement disavowing any use of negative campaign ads in the future.  They will point to their third and second place finishes as examples of how the caucus goers got mislead.

10. The Winners, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee will graciously accept the mandate that winning Iowa brings….   Obama will remind us that he is ready to make change and Huckabee will thank God (even though God was not spotted at any of the caucuses).  Huckabee will also say under his breath that he is not a Mormon and that nice things do not happen to Mormons.

11. The newscasters and pundits will predict the bounce that each candidate will get from Iowa and then tell us that New Hampshire residents see everything much differently and that Iowa does not count that much.  So what else is new.   

Third Parties

December 31, 2007

An interesting phenomenon is unfolding on the political scene.  Most candidates try to be all things for all voters while most voters are primarily interested in only a few issues.  Voters’ hot buttons tend to be those issues that they think about now.  It is only later and often too late that the voter realizes he did not mean “that issue that way”.  Let’s consider:

  • For or against Guns (that means for the NRA position or nothing, regardless of how reasonable your not position may be). 
  • For a woman’s right to reproductive health decisions or not
  • For a comprehensive approach to Mexican immigration and guest workers or not
  • For gay and lesbian rights that are equal to all others or not
  • For Universal Health Care or not.
  • For Private Health Care and too bad for those who do not have coverage.
  • For national effort to reduce green house gases or not
  • For a graduated federal tax system (wealthy pay proportionally more) or some form of flat tax
  • For a clear separation of church and state or not
  • For death penalty or not
  • For pre-emptive wars without Congressional declaration of war
  • For massive data collection on each and every citizen or not
  • For creationism and flat earth theories or not

It is my guess that most voters are not in favor of each and every one of these, yet one or more may seem appealing.  With the current two party system it is difficult to discuss these issue in a bi-partisan manner.  It is far easier for one party to claim they are the party of guns or the party of pro-choice or the party of less government (read less taxes).  This clearly then defines the other party as against guns, pro-life, and big government.  The road to reason is completely blocked.  What is the answer?

The answer lies in (1) purifying the current two parties by adopting more restricted and centrist platforms, and (2) augmenting the voters choices with with several additional “3rd parties”.  Here are my suggestions:

1. Creationist Party.  This would be a tailor made party for all those who defy scientific evidence and believe the world is about 5000 years old.  It will include all those who refuse to accept that monkeys or the likes were their ancestors.  This party wants pot holes filled, streets free of the homeless, a bible in every school desk, and strick limitations on non-Christian symbols in public places.  Most likely they will nominate Mike Huckabee this year after he loses in the Republican primaries.

2. Ron Paul Libertarians.  This is a slightly saner version of the long admired Libertarian Party.  This party is composed of people who have utilized the “common wealth” and made some money.  They are now sure they do not want to share any of it and spend enormous amounts of time reading the constitution in order to find articles and amendments that support their positions.  They seek little or no government, flat or no taxes, and a gun in every home.  In desperation these voters usually vote Republican.

3. The Pragmatists support common sense solutions to real problems and avoid deliberately creating new problems.  Pragmatitists support balanced budgets, fair taxation, and eliminating trade deficits.  On social issues, Pragmatitists believe that everyone was created equal and are inbued with inalienable rights.  The Pragmatists candidate of choice is Michael Bloomberg but Michael has enough money that he may think up his own name.  Regardless his platform will be similar.

5. Reality Thinkers are a new breed that studies the world in cold numeric terms and designs policy and programs that fully incorporate reality.  Wars are fought only if there is a dollars and cents justification (and only as a last resort).  Economic and political tools are the choice of Reality Thinkers in conducting foreign policy.  On social issues, they prefer controlled experiments where data is required before entitlement programs are rolled out to the entire country.  Reality Thinkers primary focus is on ending the use of the military, the environment, and adopting fully renewable energy.  The ideal candidate for this party is not on the scene right now.  Rumor has it that they will coax either Joe Biden or Chris Dodd to become their standard bearer.

6. The North American Union Party is dedicated to “one America” in which a common union is formed with Mexico, Canada, and the US.  This party believes in the power of people, education, and a huge common market.  This party more than the other is domestically focused and has minimal interest in foreign policy.  It’s abandonment of foreign policy will have unexpected positive impact upon the relations of the US with the Middle East, China, Russia, and closer to home, Cuba and Venezuela.  The North American Union Party strongly supports the woman’s right to choose, gay and lesbian freedoms, and strong measures to prevent gun ownership from endangering people.  The NAUP will reach out for Bill Richardson unless Bill gets the Democratic nod for VP.  While Bill fancies himself as a diplomat of the first order, he is a people person first.

7. The King George Party is about security at the expense of individual liberties party.  Supported heavily by AIPAC, Neoconservatives, and a lot of voters who simply wish for the good old days when Government told the truth, this party seeks a right leaning military man to lead them.  This party does not like to be singled out and is likely to seek reconciliation with the main stream Republican Party. 

Maybe the future will not play out exactly as I have suggested, but the chances of one or more third parties is very large this time.  The biggest question will be whether these parties can select candidates for Congress too.  Our Country desperately needs to return to the center and with the current parties that does not seem likely.  Maybe something off the wall like this will work.

Cheney in 2008?

December 30, 2007

The current crowd of Republican 2008 Presidential hopefuls is a sorry group, or so thinks the main pulse of the old guard Republican Party.  Oh do they wish Karl Rove were still around to play his dirty tricks and unit the party around some pliable faith based ideologue.  You might think Mitt Romney would be their man but you know is a Mormon.  Rudy might work but he seems prone to medical breakdowns when the heat goes up.  Mike Huckabee is simply a loose cannon and can not be counted upon to do the dirty work of the Republican establishment.  John McCain is not trusted because they have screwed him so many times before that they are sure that once elected, John will get even.  And although Fred is trustworthy, he will need so much sleep that he is not likely to last the rest of the campaign if nominated.

So the Republicans are perplexed and frustrated.  A few weeks ago they appointed a secret search committee headed by Vice President Dick “5 deferments” Cheney.  The first preliminary report was quietly circulated just before Christmas to the Republican inner cabal.  Their choice was none other than Dick Cheney himself!

The search committee reasoned that Dick could be fitted with another heart stimulator, just as back up, and rolled onto the various stages where he could speak to pre-selected friendly audiences.  While not on the campaign trail, Dick could stir up talk of war and terrorists, and of course, how he was the most prepared to protect America from these imaginary threats.  Dick’s motto will be “I’ll lead you in war so the rest of us can live in luxury”.

It is hard to say at this point whether this will be the committee’s final recommendation.  For a few hard core Republicans, this nomination is a blessing where they can continue trashing the gays and lesbians, denouncing the hard working Mexicans, and denying science and anything connected with it.  It is almost too good to be true.