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None of the Above

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There appeared on Google News (on 10-22) an article called "Obama vs. Clinton vs. Kerry in '08?" And to that I say, "None of the above."

The leader America now desperately needs must have undeniable integrity and therefore the moral authority to speak to Americans about how we must repair the damage the Bushites have done. Hillary Clinton does not occupy such a space in the American mind-in part because, through her political conduct, she has shown herself to be more of a maneuverer than one who comes from conviction.

We need a leader who has clear vision, a solid understanding, and the courage and strength to go up against the forces of evil that have done so much damage to this country. John Kerry was handed the responsibility of providing that clarity and depth of understanding and courage and strength when he was the standard-bearer in that enormously important election of 2004.

We would not have Roberts and Alito on the bench; we would not be practicing torture and passing legislation to abolish much of the bill of rights; maybe we would have started doing something in Iraq better than "staying a course" that has proved disastrous.

But John Kerry showed himself in that race to be confused and weak-too confused and weak to defend himself when the liars attacked, and too confused and weak to tell the American people what was really at stake in that election.

We need a leader who has a thorough understanding of the system of government that he's trying to make work, of the larger world in which he will be guiding the world's greatest power in trying to repair very serious damage to the international system, and of the host of other issues facing the country and the history of how they got that way. But Barak Obama is a new-comer to that world-promising enough but not seasoned enough to be able to lead what needs to be more than the usual status-quo presidency.

None of those three, say I, is the leader we need to elect in 2008.

I would look again at Gore. Gore has those strengths. Some he lacked in 2000, but he's shown that he's come into his own in the years since then. There is now a solidity and an authoritative quality to Gore that was not there in 2000. He's shown that he can speak about these Bushites with prophetic power. He may not be charismatic, but he has shown clarity and strength, he has shown integrity, and he was also the last person high in the public world to act with any nobility-when he set aside his personal feelings (after the Supreme Court decision) and yielded to the (ostensible) rule of law in a gracious way. He showed himself, even then, to be so much better than these Bushites (who never put anything ahead of seeking advantage in their pursuit of power).

And I've lately been hearing rumblings of a possibility that Bill Moyers might be willing to run. He is another person who might have the right stuff for this historical moment.


Postscript: [I wrote this piece on the weekend that the article appeared, and --thinking it a distraction from the urgent and more immediate business at hand-- decided to hold off on publishing it until after the mid-term elections. Which is to say, I wrote this before John Kerry handed the Rovians their opportunity to score points with his clumsily handled joke. I expect, therefore, that there's (even) less need than there was when I wrote this to point out Kerry's shortcomings as a standard bearer for 2008. In any event, here's what I wrote back in October.]
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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