Archive for the ‘John Edwards’ 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.

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.

It Will Be a Long Race II

January 30, 2008

With the Florida primary completed, the Republican field is narrowed to probably 2 with a third positioned to be the “king” maker.  Sounds a lot like the Democratic situation.  The best part of the Republican primary is that there is no candidate that pleases all those who call themselves Republicans, but retaining the White House might cause Republicans of all kinds of colors to join behind one candidate.  But which one?  Here’s some advice for the candidates:

1. Mitt Romney, keep your focus on the middle and emphasize the economy.  You are at least qualified to speak about domestic issues and the more you talk of that, the less time there is to talk about homeland security and the war.  If you really had courage, you would move decisively towards the side of bringing home the troops.  You could say the job is done, we won, and all that.  But more than anything, you could use the war money to fund “no child left behind” or setting up a program to document all those living here who lack documents.  You could also tell the Pat Robinsons of this world that you are a Mormon and it will be a cold day in hell before you will kiss their back sides again.  You could apologize to the gay and lesbian community for having acted so “unchristian” in the early stages of your campaign.  In short you could really move to the center and hope to appeal to moderates from both sides who want experience and someone with business sense.

2. John McCain, why do some people hate you so much?  I am absolutely without explanation why someone would build a web site that shows 20 reasons you should not be elected.  The site, posted supposedly by David K Fuller is ridiculous but it it may only be the tip of an iceberg of opinion.

If that is the case, you will need to broaden your message and ease up on this war.  Americans can be scared (as so well done by Rove and Bush) but sooner or later, they will see through this.  You are a war hero yourself and that’s enough.  What the moderate voter wants to know is that you will run a fiscally sound government, you will act reasonably towards those who need help, and you will do your very best to bring together all Americans and not throw some on the junk heap.  You have a real appearance (not plastic like Mitt’s) and American is not looking for another born again or preacher, so don’t go kissing Pat Robinson’s back side.

3. Mike Huckabee there is no chance.  No chance to be the presidential nominee but there is a chance to become the VP nominee.  You too would benefit from less volume on God and more towards using your faith for your own strength and let the rest of the nation and world think about God their own way.  You have a lot of practical executive experience running a State.  This would be an asset for either Mitt or John.  You should end up with enough delegates that your support will be critical to one of them.  Save your money, enjoy the thrill, and meet them at the convention.

4. Rudy, Rudy, it is all over and you can get out without spending a lot more.  You will make more money in the months ahead than you would have syphoned off as President. 

Who ever the Republican nominee ends up being, they will need some answers to the following and hope that the answers separate them from the failed Bush Administration. 

  • The economy is a mess
  • Consumer confidence is low
  • Global warming is real
  • Bush said no to Kyoto Protocol
  • The ABM treaty lays by the wayside
  • Our anti-missile missiles do not work (and have no purpose)
  • The Russians won’t help if we keep shoving a sharp stick in their eye
  • Iraq War was a war of choice
  • There were no WMD
  • There was no link with Hussein and al Qaeda
  • Abu Ghraib happened and soiled our Country’s reputation
  • Guantanamo and extreme interrogation methods do not work, put the US in the poorest of light, and need to cease
  • Science is needed to bring about real progress, intelligent design should be trashed
  • There should never be another Terri Schaivo episode

There will be plenty of chances during the Presidential campaign for who ever the candidates are to make a clear distinction between themselves and these examples of failed policies and behaviors.  You too can be pro-choice and make it clear that you will not repete any of these Bush transgressions.

The Last Act

January 29, 2008

President George W Bush delivered his (thankfully) last “State of the Union” address last evening.  He allowed that the economy was going through some tough times but insisted that things had improved in Vietnam, I mean Iraq.  I guess there is not much else he could have said but of course it is only partially true, and the parts he omitted are the important ones.

1. With respect to Iraq, it is far more important to know how we got there and to recognize that we are there now because we have a responsibility to fix something we broke.  You can argue whether the surge is a good strategy or not, but the need to re-establish a stable Government after the US had destroyed the former Iraq legitimate and stable Government is clear (we may not have liked Hussein but the Iraq was stable).  But don’t overlook that this was a war of choice (Bush is for pro-choice!), and our experience to date has shown it to be a blunder.

  • There were no WMD
  • There was no connection with 9/11 al Qaeda
  • Over 4000 Americans have lost their lives
  • We are closing in on $1 trillion dollars in cost
  • We took our eye off Afghanistan and it has deteriorated
  • We are now tied down in Iraq and can not respond to trouble in Afghanistan or Pakistan
  • We are no closer in finding a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis
  • We have little respect or trust left with our allies or other important nations

In short, rejoicing over progress in Iraq does injustice to the verdicts history will write.

2. With respect to the economy, Bush fiddled while Rome burned.  Bush presided over an Administration whose “tone at the top” was greed.  Prudent regulations or special taxes on excessive and obscenely high bonuses could have brought the private sector to their senses.  Greed always leads to a decay in order and how institutions were intended to work.  There is likely several problems with the economy that will need Presidential support

  • There was far too much stimulus for the housing industry and it is normal to catch our breaths.  You can build houses faster than you can find people who can afford them
  • There are a lot of shoes waiting to fall in terms of mortgage defaults.  Too many people were coaxed into taking mortgages that they could not afford that it will be inevitable that they will have to walk away leaving the banks with a lot of real estate
  • When a Merrill Lynch or a Citibank need to write off over $20 billion between them, we must conclude that big banking/investment business has had a crisis in governance (will or capacity). 
  • One day we will wake up and see that the jobs that have left for China or where ever are not coming back.  The jobs that are being created (and there are new jobs) are jobs that pay less, much less.  Our country has an apatite inherited from when we were more prosperous and now has an earning power that simply can not afford the past rich style of living.  This has happened on Bush’s watch.

Bush can not blame these problems on the Democrats.  He can not blame the gays or lesbians either.  The undocumented workers are not the cause also.  Teaching intelligent design won’t fix it either.  And abstinence will not cure these problems just as it did not help AIDS. 

If you are not worried by now, you should be.  President Bush has been a one song guy with a “poverty of imagination” (credit to Thomas Friedman).  The most important recession medicine is what it takes to gain confidence in the Country’s future and that is usually aligned with confidence in the President.  Forget about it happening with Bush, so now we must look to the 2008 candidates for hope.  What do you see?

It Will Be a Long Race

January 27, 2008

Barack Obams’s clear and decisive victory in the South Carolina primary was very impressive.  He clearly awoke many African Americans and they went out to vote.  But that was not all.  He motivated a large group of younger, dissatisfied voters who were mostly non-black and they enthusiastically supported Barack.  Here are some observations:

1. Hillary watch out.  Your campaign’s continued use of “bad mouth” accusations does not reinforce your image as a leader who can unite.  Without capturing the imagination of young Americans, the rest of your message and your competence is lost in the dull roar.  You must remember that about half the voters are women while only 12% are African Americans.  If you believe that Obama has little experience, then let it show by his own actions.  Focus your attention on convincing Americans that you can lead for everyone and forget about Barack.  The final decision will most likely come at the convention and that’s where the fight needs to be.  Besides, he would make a great VP.

2. Barack, congratulations on an outstanding victory.  You are managing to stay above the gutter and this will stand you well.  The “change” message is going to wear out soon.  You need to be more clear on change from what.  Bill Clinton’s years were actually quite good ones for the Country and our economy.  Most Americans can look back and see that they were better off after his terms than before.  The “change” should be from the policies of George W Bush and his failed Presidency, and the likely 2008 Republican candidates.  You need to be clear that you won’t be a George Bush nor a Mitt Romney, John McCain, or Mike Huckabee (and why). 

3. John Edwards, the future is much clearer now.  You will not be President but you could be the king maker.  If there is a remote chance of getting nominated in a dead locked convention, you must use your time to stay on the high ground and broaden your message to be more inclusive and less cutting.


January 23, 2008

It seems that neo-historians are already at work rewriting the past 7 years and putting more lipstick on the Bush appearance.  In “Tough Calls, Good Call” in Tuesday, January 22, 2008’s edition of the Wall Street Journal (Opinion page), J.D. Crouch II and Robert Joseph have taken a stab at justifying the Bush years.  They point to what others would label failures, misjudgements, or plain disasters.

They begin by pointing out that about 1 year ago, George Bush, against most all advice, raised the stakes in Iraq and introduced us to the “serge”.  They claim George did this because he did not want the US to “lose” in Iraq.  (It will be a long time before anyone knows the true outcome of this Bush escapade into Iraq and “win/lose” are emotive terms and used for political purposes.)  Crouch and Joseph propose that this time it is “mission accomplished”.  (We can debate that point at another time.)  They then offer that the surge decision, although tough, was somewhat easier because George had made so many tough ones before.  They suggest dumping the ABM treaty, restarting Star Wars, and then deploying new missiles in the face of Russian opposition was a tough call.

But this has not been enough, reason these Chicken Hawks.  They recommend deploying a third site for these anti-missile missiles in Europe.  Then arm them with “multiple kill vehicles” so that the Iranians and North Koreans can be defended against.  Crouch and Joseph then want the US to beef up the Navy assets and while we are at it, let’s improve our long range missiles.  (What war are thinking about fighting?)  And lastly, and not to overlook a new frontier, they want the US to arm space.  (I wonder whether they think al Qaeda will get there first?)

All this because George Bush (read Dick Cheney) had the insight to make the tough calls early on.  If you had been asleep for 20 years and just awoke, you would think the cold war had never ended.  What are they thinking?

1. Iraq is a mess and a terribly costly one.  Some estimate have it going from $1 trillion to $2 trillion while our homeland gradually decays.  The 4000 lives and even greater number of severly wounded service men and women simply are not worth the Iraq escapade.

2. Star Wars remains unproven technology with no value towards an enemy employing asymmetrical tactics like al Qaeda.  Star Wars should not be expected to work, either, against a conventional military threats presently due to technology limitations.  From a dollars and cents perspective, investing in soft deplomacy and rebuilding our economic strength would be much more cost effective and likely to make the US more effective internationally, and all Americans better off ay home.

3. China and India represent the largest threats to our economic strength and continuing to do everything possible to anger the Russians (a possible ally) is backward’s thinking.  Both China and India can be managed more effectively through economic competition accompanied by a sensible foreign policy.

4. Crouch and Joseph are the first of many who will hail Bush as a national hero and propose we build the future upon his magnificent accomplishments.  We must see these neo-historians for what they are, chicken hawks who have not progressed from the cold war.  We should remember Bush for who he was… no Kyoto Protocol, Terri Schaivo, invading Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, forget the Geneva Convention, a holiday for due process, and good-bye to habeas corpus.

5. We should also watch which 2008 Presidential candidates salute Crouch and Joseph’s words.  The words “four more years” will mean just this type of failed presidency.

State Sponsored Terrorism

January 22, 2008

There are news reports that the anti-abortionists are readying a new wave of assaults on American women.  This, at a time when there are so many other important issues facing Americans, is perplexing.  As you look behind these activities you find the loose confederation of evangelicals and fundamentalists organized by “for profit” churches.  Their goal is to reverse “Roe v Wade” at the minimum and at best, to make it illegal under any conditions for a woman to end her pregnancy.

Georgia is considering an initiative that will define life to begin with fertilization.  Logically then anything that would end the pregnancy would, in effect, be an act of murder.  I wonder if they have thought about:

1. How many “PP” (pregnancy police) they will need to spy in each bedroom to see if copulation has taken place and then run spot checks (like athelete  who take urine tests) to see if the woman is pregnant?

2. What means of electronic earsdroping will be used to determine if a woman leaves the state and returns, whether she had had an abortion?

3. Could the State pursue a woman into another State on the suspicion that the woman was pregnant and might consider having an abortion?

These ridiculous situations may seem unreal but given the pending laws, they are the logical extension of thinking that chooses to subjugate a woman’s right to her reproductive health.  But what is behind this?

1. In running any religion or ideological group, it is always easier to gain consensus when you present the people with an enemy.  With religions, where you are dealing with faith and belief (not logic or facts), to imply that an abortion is analogous to killing, you get a quick response…”thou shalt not kill”.  Just like Jim Jones, it is them against us and we have to win or they will destroy us.

2. I would certainly not categorize most of the modern evangelical and fundamentalist leaders as Jim Jones types.  I would simply call them what they are… they are shrewd business men and women.  They are feeding their flocks something that makes the unthinking feel they are better than others.  For this people turn over buckets of dollars to these religious leaders.

3. American was founded upon the inalienable rights of individuals to personal liberties.  Through out our history we have seen an enlightenment that these rights apply to everyone regardless of race, creed, or gender.  (We are working on sexual preference now).  How then can we protect the woman’s right to choose?

4. I suggest we fight fire with fire.  Let’s begin a drive to tax all religious institutions that choose to try and influence the public agenda.  I have no beef with churches that teach people how to pray or see nature as beautiful, or even how they think they should live.  I react when these churches try and tell me how I should live.  So, let’s tax them like any other corporation.

From “Change” to the “Economy”

January 18, 2008

Over the years I have observed that when there is an economic slow down or even a recession, two factors are always present.  First, there is an over abundance of something such as credit card debt, automobiles in inventory, or as now, too many houses for sale.  Second, there is a general lack of confidence in the future and the “stand in” measure of that is confidence in the President.  If we are not ready for a recession now, we never will be.  The question is what have the Presidential candidates learned from the current mess and what would they do differently if they were President?  Let’s look at some underlying factors:

1. The current slow down in house sales would not be such a big deal if it did not also affect the construction on new houses.  New construction stimulates the entire economy broadly.  People are paid to build house, others supply raw materials, and still others supply furniture, appliances and garden items.  All this slows down when new houses are not selling.

But why has it slowed down?  You could say that like all fads it has run out of energy and we should not be concerned.  There is undoubtedly some truth to that but if we look at the last ones in, that is those who were buying just before the slow down occurred, we will see that they are largely people who probably should not have been there.  Largely this group were speculators (buy now and flip it) and others who may deserve housing but were being encouraged by subprime lenders who were literally throwing money at these people (who could not afford the house especially if their costs increased).  We are now seeing companies such as Merrill Lynch and Citigroup posting write offs in the billions!  This is stagering and to compound matters, when they dismissed their CEOs (who watched over this misjudgement on risk), they paid them about $ 60 million each to leave.  What’s wrong with this picture?

2. Consumer confidence is drooping and this is always more difficult to answer.  It is easy to cite President Bush’s approval rating (low 30’s%) and you can go to the bank that not many people believe anything he says.  But what are people thinking about the 2008 Presidential candidates?  The Republican race is a shamble with no clear preference and signs of strong dissatisfaction by some of each candidate.  The Democrats look to be coming down to two (Barack and Hillary) but it is not clear whether both are ok for all Democrats or whether the selection process will alienate some.

3. The rising cost of energy can not be overlooked.  Everything will cost more and there will be less discretionary money for those fun things.  With no serious energy policy (other than Bush’s “buy from my friends” policy, the next President will start from behind the starting line.

4. A hidden factor that most people do not think about is the growing weakness of the US dollar.  This will cause all imported items to rise in price since it will take more dollars to buy the same amount.  But more important is why is the dollar sinking in value?  Look no further than the 1 trillion dollar Iraq war that has been used to cover the War debt, and absence of sound fiscal management in the Bush Administration.  The Bush Administration conveniently spared the Country any hardship from his war by putting its cost on the cuff.  But chickens come home to roost in strange ways.

I do not know what we will hear as economic fixes but I am sure that

  • attacking gays and lesbians
  • putting a gun in every hand
  • driving out Mexican workers
  • pushing for intelligent design
  • denying due process
  • goading pro-lifers into action
  • crying out about terrorists

will not do anything to help the economy.  It will take sound thinking and a spirit of inclusiveness and confidence in our abilities.  Our economy has been getting sick for most all of Bush’s term and the day of reckoning is here.  So let’s here from the candidates on what would be fundamental change!

Republican Myth

January 17, 2008

Reporters are now picking up on the observation that the 2008 Republican Presidential candidates are making almost no reference to President George W Bush or to his Administration’s record.  Tell me something that I did not know!

When a group of Republican voters were asked why they thought no mention of little George was being made, they responded with:

1. “I don’t know.”  This is probably the most truthful and accurate answer since most Republicans (like Democrats) are that because they always were.  There is no thinking (or very little) about why the actual or assumed party prinicples appeal to an individual.  There is a huge difference, in my opinion, between someone saying “I am a life long Republican because I feel more comfortable with their sense of prudent government spending”, and “I think George Bush is a great Republican”.  George Bush has made a mockery of everything that has stood for Republicanism and people need to recognize that.  Pandering to evangelicals, waging pre-emptive war on false pretenses, attacking gays and lesbians as lesser citizens, and ignoring our Constitutional civil and human rights is a short list. 

2. “The 2008 Presidential race is about looking to the future and not the past”.  This is a great answer although it begs why not brag about the past like every other campaign has done.  When historians begin to write about the Bush era, they will not need much ink.

3. “I am not sure why the candidates are on talking about the President because President Bush has been successful.  We are winning the war now.”  Those who answer the question this way need to see a professional medical person or stop taking their mind altering drugs.  When anyone refers to the Iraq War and claims we are winning (or losing) they are making an irrelevant statement.  Just like if the US invaded Costa Rica and the Government boasted of victory, military action in Iraq must over time always end with US winning the battles.  We simply have too many resources. 

When you hear the Republican candidates boasting about “winning the war in Iraq”, you need to remember:

1. This was a war of choice and never needed to take place. 

2. The Iraq War was justified to the American public on false premises and has been shown over time to have no justification.

3. Once the US had invaded and had caused a regime change, the US was obligated to “fix what it had broken”.  This has taken 5 years (and counting), almost 4000 lives (and counting) and more than 1/2 trillion dollars (and counting), just to fix what we broke.  No matter how you look at it, the Iraq War was an expensive mistake.

4. The question that should stop anyone who says “we are winning” should be, “oh that’s great, when will all the troops be home?”

Three Questions

January 16, 2008

With the last few day’s campaigning in the Republican 2008 Presidential nomination race, three large questions have arisen.  With the field so evenly split, I wonder if more question will arise than are answered.  The questions are:

1.  What is Mike Huckabee thinking when he persists in inserting God into the campaign.  Speaking to the converted he said that it would be easier to change the Constitution than to “change the word of God”.  Has he not read the constitution and the first amendment?  Has he already decided which God (of the many possible to assume) is the God that the rest of us must bow to?  Does he not realize that what he says to the evangelicals is reported to the entire country? 

2. Now that Mitt Romney has won the gold in Michigan, he has a new life (we are told by the press).  But the question is why?  For sure he picked up a few votes for the nomination but why did the voters turn away from John McCain?  Why did so many main line and well to do Republicans vote for Mitt and not John?  Did those voters simply not like or trust John, or did they like the executive capabilities of Romney?  Did they realize he was a Mormon (as Huckabee has pointed out) and simply did not care?

3. Ron Paul received almost 7% of the vote coming in higher than “sleeping” Fred and “waiting for Florida” Rudy.  For someone few people had heard about before he announced his candidacy, Ron has polled well in Iowa, New Hampshire, and now Michigan.  You might be quick to say that he did not finish higher than fourth in these three races but the 6-10% range speaks to a significant segment that is attracted to Ron’s message.  With Paul’s internet fund raising success, could he be a third party candidate when the Republican Party turns to a more traditional pick?

Of course there are more than three questions, and probably with the South Carolina primary, there will be even more.  I just wonder whether we will get answers to these before we have more questions.