RANDOM JACK: DISSEMINATE FREELY.
By Jack Random
While it is difficult to call the rhetorical exchange that took place in New Hampshire tonight (June 3, 2007) a debate, I will accept the term as a convention. Hosted by CNN, the infamous promoter of mainstream politics, it featured two hours of roaming commentary by eight candidates, six of whom can be considered contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination (the remaining two serving as agent provocateurs).
It may seem foolish to rank the candidates according to their performance but it is no less foolish to listen to the absurd post-debate spin of pundits and politicos. My rankings are based on substance rather than style, though it should be noted that the only legitimate candidate that showed real passion was a surprisingly impassioned Senator Joe Biden. Senator John Edwards would come in second on style with Senators Obama, Clinton and Richardson losing style points for their usual bland approach to reasoned discourse.
Given a distinctly progressive-populist-antiwar-libertarian bias, I ranked the candidates on twenty topics, with a maximum score of two and a minimum score of minus one.
Accordingly, the winner of the June 3 Democratic Presidential Debate was clearly Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico. The rankings are as follows:
GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON: 14. Positive scores on Iraq (2 points for the call to de-authorize the war), Immigration, Health Care, Gay Rights, Energy Policy (2), Environment (2), Veterans Care, Darfur, Education and the Budget. No negative scores.
FORMER SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS: 10. Positives on Iraq (2), Health Care (2), Energy (2), Iran, Pakistan, Darfur, Tax Policy and Poverty. Negative on Gay Rights (something about states rights).
SENATOR CHRIS DODD: 9. Positives on Iraq, Immigration, Energy Policy (2), Environment, Military Spending, Human Rights, Military Draft, Education, and the Budget. Negative on Darfur (bizarre objection to boycotting the Chinese Olympics).
CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH: 8. Positives on Iraq (2), Health Care (2), Assassination Policy (what a loopy question on taking out Osama bin Laden), Trade Policy (2) and the Budget.
SENATOR JOE BIDEN: 5. Positives on Energy Policy, Environment, Iran, Darfur (2), and Election Reform. Negative on Iraq (defended his vote to fund the war).
SENATOR BARRACK OBAMA: 5. Positives on Iraq, Immigration, Health Care, Veterans Care, Pakistan, Darfur and Tax Policy. Negatives on Military Spending and Assassination Policy (too quick to let civilians die in a hypothetical strike on Osama bin Laden).
FORMER SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL: 5. Positives on Iraq (2), Energy Policy, Environment, and Military Spending. (Gravel disappeared in the second hour.)
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: 1. Positives on Health Care, Hypothetical Assassination of OBL, Tax Policy and the Budget. Negatives on Iraq (equivocal as always), Iran and Pakistan (she believes she must be perceived as McCain tough).
CNN: Zero for wasting our time with irrelevant questions and for not bringing up Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, Global Warming, New Orleans, Poverty, Wage Decline, Individual Debt, Social Security, Human Rights, Civil Liberties, No Child Left Behind or Fair Trade. What planet on they living on?
For the record, as an independent Green Party member, I have no horse in this race but I think it fair to conclude that the overall winner was Senator Edwards. Governor Richardson has policy but he does not have the flair and commanding presence to win a national election – except as vice president.
In my estimation, Senators Clinton and Obama are both suffering from the equivocation disease that affects those who perceive themselves as leaders of the pack. Hillary has never shown the kind of passion that inspires. Obama seems to have lost the magic he displayed on the floor of the last Democratic convention.
Would anyone in this group make a good president? Would anyone succeed in ending the Iraq war, resolving the crisis in Afghanistan, reverse criminal policies on pollution, civil liberties and human rights? Would anyone really establish universal health care? Would anyone take on the critical issue of trade policy?
Discounting Kucinich, sadly, it is unlikely. Then again, would anyone be worse than what we have today?
Vote Independent. End the war.
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE APPEARED ON THE ALBION MONITOR, PEACE-EARTH-JUSTICE, THE NATIONAL FREE PRESS, PACIFIC FREE PRESS, LEFTWARD, DISSIDENT VOICE AND COUNTERPUNCH.