I love Dennis Kucinich and think he is far and away the best candidate running for president. He and I are speaking together on a panel in New Hampshire this weekend. But asking his supporters in Iowa to vote for Obama as their second choice makes no sense to me.
First of all, any Iowan willing to take instructions on whom to vote for would not be backing Kucinich. Every television in Iowa tells voters every day not to vote for Dennis. His supporters are not the sort of people who obey instructions. They should back him aggressively in every caucus, and if they can't get 15% go home or back the candidate of their choice, as they will do regardless of what I or Dennis has to say.
Second, 99% of Kucinich's supporters do not live in Iowa or have much of an idea how the Iowa caucus system works. They see absolutely no need to make this sort of announcement, any more than they saw one the last time around when Kucinich pointed to Edwards as a second choice and the media all announced that Kucinich had dropped out and endorsed Edwards.
Kucinich backers see a huge gulf between him and the other candidates on the issues. They believe him when he says, as he's said on and off for four years, that if the Democrats nominate a war-candidate, he won't support them. Kucinich and most of his supporters consider Obama a war candidate, yet here he is - 11 months early - already endorsing him. It's not much of a leap to envision a Kucinich endorsement of Clinton if nominated, and that turns the stomachs of a lot of Kucinich backers.
Third, the media was guaranteed to do what it did four years ago and announce that Kucinich had conceded. The corporate and even progressive media are now doing just that. Here's Michael Moore:
"Personally, Congressman Kucinich, more than any other candidate, shares the same positions that I have on the issues (although the UFO that picked ME up would only take me as far as Kalamazoo). But let’s not waste time talking about Dennis. Even he is resigned to losing, with statements like the one he made yesterday to his supporters in Iowa to throw their support to Senator Obama as their 'second choice.'"
Fourth, while none of the other candidates comes close to Kucinich, Edwards is more likely to end illegal occupations, refrain from launching new ones, and shift power away from the wealthy and the military-industrial complex than Obama. If Dennis is going to back someone else, the rest of us can do the same. My distant second choice is the man who just announced the withdrawal of troops from Iraq over 10 months once he's in office: John Edwards. My first choice remains voting and caucusing and campaigning for Kucinich. Vote for him, but don't listen to him.