Archive for the ‘Ron Paul’ 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.

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Republican Debate?

January 31, 2008

Last night on CNN, the 4 remaining Republican candidates sat around a table in the Regan Library and “answered” reporters questions.  Three of the four mostly replied to the questions choosing instead to insert some prepared remarks that said little or nothing.  Only Ron Paul gave clear and unambiguous answers to the questions.  Here are some observations.

1. Mitt Romney looked and acted the most presidential of the four.  He strongly denied accusations from John McCain but never resorted to “child to parent” behavior and maintained a cool but sincere demeanor. 

2. John McCain did not look very presidential and often when the question was being answered to another, and the camera caught McCain in its view, you could see him sneering at the answer.  You could almost read his mind saying, “you silly ass fool (insert Mike, Ron, or Mitt depending upon who was talking)”.  I think this is a strong clue on whether McCain has the character to listen to dissenting views and truly keep an open mind.  Warning… we have one of those now and he is a disaster!

3. Mike Huckabee was all over the map.  His appearance and demeanor were reasonable and fully in control.  Never the less you could see he was disgusted with the allocation of questions (time on air) that highly favored Romney and McCain.

4. Ron Paul was fully in control and patient.  He seemed to know and accept that he would get the least amount of air time.  I guess he thought that just being there was great since Dennis Kucinich will not make the cut tonight.

5. Mitt offered a measure of hope in his answer to questions on immigration and ending the Iraq War.  Of course he danced around both issues but reading between the lines he expressed logical and humanitarian views on immigration and potentially if he were to become President, he could sell the case that there is no way to return 12-14 million undocumented aliens so there better be some pathway to citizenship (or at least documentation).  With respect to the war, he did not bite on the “we will be there 100 years” and rather insisted on doing things orderly and without a time line.  Since Romney is a good business man, he at least knows that the value add of Iraq is a large negative number.

6. McCain used his basic stump speech lines as often as he could.  He has always been a leader so he can run the Government.  He has always been strong on defense so he knows what’s best in Iraq.  He was a foot soldier for Regan so he clearly knows the conservative’s values.  There was no explanation of a justification for the war but rather simply “I supported our President”, implying the President knew what he was doing (and we know that is not the case).  There were no ideas on what to do with those without healthcare coverage nor were their any ideas on how to get the economy’s fundamentals going again.  (that is the beauty of the conservative line, “get out of the way and let the people do it”.  While partially true (and certainly true up to the 1990’s), we will need much more coordination of science and math education, and investment in infrastructure to fuel a rebirth of American value creation in today’s world.)

7. Ron Paul is unsuited to become President but he was the most honest and clearest speaker.  To the question of whether our troops should stay in Iraq 100 Years, he said that was the wrong question.  Paul said, “they should never have gone in the first place, there were no WMD and no links to 9/11 or al Qaeda, and Congress never issued a Declaration of War”.  In Paul’s view, the war is illegal and unconstitutional.  If the candidates had debated that subject, all of American could have learned something.

8. Huckabee is also a complex candidate.  He speaks foolishly and unproductively about God, religion and morality (like apple pie and motherhood) and recommends doing away with the IRS.  Then he speaks practically and realistically about how to fix education, immigration, and government in general.  It sounds as if Mike is bi-polar with opposing extremes around God and common sense.

The Republicans have a real problem with respect to unifying their party.  It looks like the best bet now is McCain but he clearly is not liked by all Republicans.  (In this sense he is like Hillary).  Romney has not kissed enough back sides (or done it well enough) to gain the broader support of the big Republican hitters.  Watch to see who Karl Rove supports to learn where the consensus will settle.  The even larger problem is how they will debate the Democratic candidate with the economy broken, the poor and rich more separated than ever, and the Iraq War which makes no sense at all still going.

Mike Huckabee will need a plan B after super Tuesday.  He has never had much money and he will have less then.  As always, the VP spot is his best hope.   Ron Paul could continue as a Republican candidate and keep them honest, or he could consider running as a 3rd party candidate.  Time will tell but having his clear voice on the War will be a service to the nation.

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.

For or Against the War?

January 14, 2008

We are being treated to some useless political theater with the Clinton and Obama campaigns.  “I was against the War and you voted for it”.  “That’s the biggest fairy tale I have every heard (Bill Clinton claiming Obama did in fact vote for the war)”.  In both cases, what’s the point?  I hope they do not mean that since the war has cost a trillion dollars and taken 4000 American lives and lasted 5 years with no end in sight, that the war is a bad idea.  I hope they are not arguing about the cost-benefits of the war either (which only a failed businessman would have taken us into… and George W Bush fits that description).

A lot of people got it wrong in 2002. 

1. The media as a whole reacted with glee over the prospect of endless pages and/or minutes of reporting (not to mention the advertising dollars that would follow) a war. 

2. Congress got it particularly wrong because they were more worried about getting reelected than performing their jobs and following the Constitution. 

3. But most everyone got it wrong when the President and Vice President decided they were the sole authority for whether there would be an invasion or not.  This was behavior that was new and a bold expansion of the Presidency. 

4. Cheney and Bush got it wrong when they acted without International approval, and entered the US into an illegal war.

So, other than Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, I have not heard anyone else call the Iraq War what it is.  It is an illegal war and it will be a black smudge on the American reputation for years to come.  Politically, there is a reluctance to point out the illegal nature of the war. 

First, there will be outcries and demagoguery over the slander of American service men and women.  “You mean they sacrificed for nothing?”  Unfortunately if you put it that way, the answer is yes.  As in all wars or military conflicts, the soldiers pay the price of political decisions.  Our soldiers have performed professionally and can take pride in their professional performance.

Second, these claims will open the US to suits in the World Court where Iraqi citizens seek to address their personal losses.

Third, the World Court actions won’t stop at just financial.  Bush and Cheney (and Rumsfeld) would be subject to crimes against humanity and lengthy jail sentences (if they are spared the death penalty).

So here is a statement the Obama and Clinton camps could adopt and then move on to other important issues.

“The Iraq War was initiated without Constitutional approval and before sufficient information had been assembled on whether Iraq possessed WMD.  The White House judgement was unfortunate and betrayed the confidence of the Congress and American people.  We pledge that in ensuring the security of America, we will follow the Constitution and use military action as truly the last resort.”

It’s Cold In New Hampshire

January 7, 2008

Polls indicate that it will be a very cold day Tuesday for Hillary.  The question is “how cold”.  The same can be said for John Edwards but he is likely to do better than first thought.  According to pundits, the reason is the “independent voter”.

It seems that mainline Democrats are content with Hillary but those who carry the label, “independent”, are poised to change the balance.  Interestingly the same can be said for Mitt Romney.  It looks also like those independents are going to turn out for John McCain and produce Mitt’s second loss (or silver medal as Mitt prefers) in three events.  Those independents are everywhere but on election day can only be one place.

1. The surge of “independents” for McCain and Obama may signal a broader dissatisfaction that many more voters have with the performance of the Democratic and Republican parties.  The party that New Hampshire independents vote for will signal how they feel about the future.  Do they want more of the division and fear/hatred of the Bush years, or a different, possibly idyllic future.

2. There is enough time ( post New Hampshire) for Hillary to retool her pitch and she has enough money to grind it out.  There is no certainty, however, that even with a new modified pitch she will be anymore attractive to the independents.

3. The road ahead for most Republican candidates will be bumpy.  From my perspective, Mitt is a dead duck.  But mainstream Republicans who would normally be comfortable with McCain or Thompson have to deal with Rudy (who is most like Bush) and Mike Huckabee (who is a bit like Obama).

4. The back room Republican forces that united for George W Bush have clearly taken a pass on the 2008 election.  They concluded correctly that Bush and Cheney had screwed things up so badly that there was no chance.  Should Obama look like the likely nominee, all bets are off.  But who will they turn to?

5. The Republican bosses will never trust Huckabee.  I would predict that they will keep a stiff upper lip and back McCain and try to back stop him with a VP selection they can trust. 

6. Of course I might have this wrong, and the bosses will turn to the old war horse himself, Dick Cheney.  When experience counts, he’s the man.  When change is needed, he shines there too (just think of the losses in civil liberties, the rejection of the Geneva Convention, the justification of outing a covert CIA agent, the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq).

Oh, there is a lot riding on the New Hampshire primary but we will only see it clearly in the months ahead. 

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.