Recent polls reflect that President Bush’s approval ratings have fallen to a staggering low of 28%. As a result, many feel confident that it may very well be an easy stroll into the Oval Office for most Democratic hopefuls, who seem to be operating under the false illusion that Bush himself is running for a third term. If this assumption were false, how do we explain how little the frontrunners have done to win our affection? Leaving all the spin-talk aside, what is their true vision for a new America? (I guess that in itself is a useless question, especially when attaching it to a professional pol.) And why are they so confident that they can defeat Time Magazine’s 2001 man of the year Rudy Giuliani with such ease? As a native New Yorker I know first hand how slippery Giuliani is, and he should not be underestimated—ever.
So far, the Democratic Party frontrunners are behaving like a bunch of out of touch, over-privileged elitists. The frontrunners need to learn that the public—especially the Democratic base— won’t tolerate any more of the G.O.P-lite formula, which, to the party establishment’s shame, has come to typify recent elections. Contrary to their old stratagem of playing it safe, of cynical “triangulation,” a new formula must be adopted, one which presents the candidates as people of real conviction (assuming, of course, that there is someone in the front ranks who possesses this admirable quality). Without that there is no way to invigorate an otherwise alienated public, an electorate that feels more disenfranchised and apathetic than ever in regards to the search for a principled winner.
Flip-flops and examples to follow
The recent vote of “NO” against the Iraq spending bill by Senators Clinton and Obama came as a surprise to many of us, in light of their former support of the spending bill this past March. This change of heart by the frontrunners clearly demonstrates that the candidates are responding to the negative publicity they have been receiving by commentators on the Internet, and the liberal wing of the Democratic party, who are vehemently opposed to letting the frontrunners think we will accept “Anybody But Bush” as an alternative recipe for success. It failed Kerry and it will fail them if they don’t start taking a principled stance. There is political wisdom in principled consistency. It is very likely the Republicans will seize on any change in position as another reason to portray the Democrats as indecisive. The current frontrunners must have been aware this tap dancing technique would land them in hot water, but after calculating the risk, I suppose they felt it was worth it to respond to the public. See what playing the center gets you?
In light of all of their apparent shortcomings and evasions, it might be useful to ask them if they have comprehensive solutions in place to solve our myriad of problems, solutions that do not contain huge loopholes and compromises. Why is it that, so far, only Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich has bills on the floor attacking the roots of the health care crisis, and a plan for immediate withdrawal from Iraq? What’s more, Kucinich keeps making the correct voting decisions and has yet to waver on anything. In a town, in a political environment, where everything revolves around self-preservation and advancement, and the scrupulous avoidance of risk, some would say with ample justification that he has often gone beyond the call of duty. Is it that maybe Kucinich needs to receive 25-26 million dollars in contributions for media campaigns before he will be taken seriously? I guess “money talks” after all—literally.
Meanwhile, Congressman Kucinich, who, unsurprisingly, receives little to no media attention, and for some odd reason which defies all reason, is every “realistic” voter’s worst nightmare, has a concrete plan to end the war in Iraq starting right away, as outlined under bill H.R. 1234, as well as the Universal Health care bill known as H.R. 676 which is brilliantly designed as “Medicare for all.” What are the frontrunner’s plans to handle the health care crisis, and a clear exit strategy for the troops in Iraq? So far I have seen them do nothing but pay lip service to the issue that effects 46 million Americans, and many more under insured, not to mention the 600,000 plus dead Iraqis and Americans, who suffered and are suffering for a war Hillary Clinton voted for. I suppose the largest demonstrations in the history of humankind didn’t signal to Senator Clinton that maybe voting for this debacle was a bad idea, and then afterwards continuing to attack Bush, while slipping a blank check under the table so he may carry out his exploits. Furthermore, and I may add, characteristically, Senator Obama and Clinton have recently voted to reauthorize a slightly watered down version of Bush’s Patriot act, while Dennis Kucinich, yes folks, you guessed it, voted it down, with a swift raise of the hand.
It takes no more than five minutes to examine Denis Kucinich’s policies, and to realize that they are every progressive’s dream come true. Kucinich provides the left with a new route, which would steer America clear of impending disasters. If this enormous cruise ship does go down, the waters will be much more brisk, and painful than when the actual Titanic sank - we can be sure of that. If I sound hyperbolic, then I must stress that you reevaluate the current predicament. Dennis Kucinich may not win the great American billion- dollar beauty pageant/popularity contest we call “presidential election” in this confounded nation, but he still may win a few hearts by actually telling the truth, a novel concept these days in American politics.
Not content with a record that many of these media favorites would envy for sheer honesty, Dennis Kucinich has also filed impeachment papers against Dick Cheney, a man emblematic of the revolting corruption and criminality that characterizes this system, and, as mentioned earlier, has bills ready to go on such urgent matters as “Medicare for All.” In addition to that, he has endorsed a policy that involves a multilateral coalition effort to rebuild Iraq. As we know, the United States plutocrats and energy corporations don’t want multilateral help because there is too much potential profit on and under the ground in the Middle East…if they only could get pesky Iran out of the picture, and grab their oil while they are at it, too. This is thieves’ calculus, and the whole world knows it, even if the American media and people do not.
Putting the ear to the ground
To Senator Obama’s credit he did vote “NO” on CAFTA. However, the newly elected Senator has already started make the appropriate presidential noises [read: the willingness to use military force] and to apply camouflage warpaint, if only to appear ready to handle— according to the “crise du jour”—any “threat of terror from Iran.” In keeping with this wrongheaded posture, recently Senator Obama started beating the drums and ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran when he stated, “All options are on the table” with that nation, while repeating the poisoned media mantra, that they are “developing nuclear capabilities…and they must be stopped.” This bold statement by Obama excludes the fact that it is the right of Iran, a sovereign nation, to develop nuclear energy, and if they are developing weapons, as it is widely claimed, they should be supervised by the international community, not another meddling agency of the by now most hated foreign power in the region, who as we all know, is more than casually interested in oil, and in “stabilizing” the region strictly in its own terms.
At the same moment Gary Kasparov is being harassed by Russian police, the Democrats here at home, are in a scurry to the center of the political chessboard to appear to the public as “tough on terror” once again, just like their corporate counterparts in the G.O.P. Have they all forgotten, or did they never know or care, that it is our government’s meddling in Middle Eastern affairs that has given rise to “terrorism”—the Frankenstein that now threatens our seriously weakened democracy? Meddling such as the history of propping up oppressive regimes like the Shah and his SAVAK in Iran; the hot and cold wars in Iraq; the selling to both sides chemical weapons during the Iraq-Iran war (which, as Jesse Jackson notes “we have the receipts for”); and our government’s politico-economic love affair with the decadent Saudi Royal family? These are just a fraction of the crimes and irritations that are enraging “terrorists” and Arab nationalists alike, and which have created another, significantly larger crop of more ferocious enemies and demagogues throughout the Islamic world than we ever had to confront in the past. Yep, all of these wonders we owe our munificent foreign policy, whose motto should be “not a country left behind.”
Any rational thinking human with the intelligence of a stick of Juicy Fruit can easily arrive at the logical conclusion that the facts just stated would signal to our government that maybe it is time for a clear change in policy, but instead the Newspeak wisdom being touted by our politicians and their counterparts in the billionaire- controlled media, is that this raging desert fire is mostly a result of warring sects with different religious interpretations of Islam. In other words, it’s their fault, and we have nothing to do with this insanity.
Against this surreal backdrop, what level of narcissism do these politicians need to display before they have officially lost our complete confidence? Do we need to quickly go down memory lane, one more time …just to 2003 when all this extraordinary adventure officially began? Do we need reminding about the authorization and implementation of an ingenious plan to start an immoral preemptive war with a bullying anteroom called “Shock and Awe”…the whole criminal exercise according to these crooks meant to spread democracy in a nation we never gave one damn for before…as evidenced by the destruction we have rained on it for almost 3 decades…and which we continue to this day. Naturally, considering the greed that courses through some of the corridors that determine US foreign policy, it doesn”t matter one whit that almost the entire population of Iraq (except maybe for the Kurds) wants us out; that we are perceived as occupation troops and not as “liberators;” that some of our soldiers are returning home so psychologically distraught that they are killing themselves in increasing numbers; and that even some upper echelons of the US military are now also thinking that Iraq is far too costly an investment to maintain without damaging the force for years to come.
Splitting hairs if it’s politically convenient
Most people feel the Iraqis and the American soldiers are both victims of this war, yet Obama doesn’t evidence the same sympathy, and instead is happy to follow the line of least resistance and scapegoat the Iraqis as the primary problem preventing peace in Iraq. The audacious shamelessness of this position is breathtaking—to any decent and impartial observer, but not to a crowd lacking in all elementary moral reflexes, and where Newspeak is the only language they understand.
Accordingly, again straining to sound statesmanlike and presidential, Obama read the prevailing cues and intoned:“To reach such a solution, we must communicate clearly and effectively to the factions in Iraq that the days of asking, urging, and waiting for them to take control of their own country are coming to an end. No more coddling, no more equivocation. Our best hope for success is to use the tools we have – military, financial, diplomatic – to pressure the Iraqi leadership to finally come to a political agreement between the warring factions that can create some sense of stability in the country and bring this conflict under control.”
In the most matter-of-fact fashion Glen Ford, editor of the Black Agenda Report, responded to this statement by quipping acidly that, “The U.S. has ‘coddled’ 600,000 Iraqis to death.”
(Well, of course, that was a few months ago).
In May 2007 Senator Obama sings a different tune, and, along with Sen. Clinton, states with unconvincing resolve that “enough is enough”, and that “we cannot give a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path.” By now at least some of us recognize that Hillary Clinton is nothing more than a careerist establishment politician, a characterization requiring little explanation, but Barak Obama still has the audacity to present himself as a “champion of the people,” claiming to be a man sensitive to the plight of the struggling American worker and the “Middle Class.” Yet a statement in his new book declares without any sense of shame or contradiction that, “Serious concern over the nation’s harsh disparities is consigned to leftist ‘cranks’ and other assorted ‘unreasonable zealots.’” Does this sound like a man in touch with what this country needs to get done?