Clinton, Obama, Edwards; The Three Are One

Des Moines Register Debate: Advisors (full)

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

The Des Moines Register Democratic Debate was an event like no other.  Gaffes, gossip, gushing, and gabble were all present and accounted for.  Former Senator Mike Gravel was not.  Nor was Congressman, and potential President, Dennis Kucinich.  Each of these aspirants would have been happy to meet and speak with the people of Iowa, just as they have for months.  However, they were intentionally excluded in this more formal forum.  

Excuses were made, and easily  countered.  Nevertheless, evidence to the  contrary mattered not to the Des Moines Register.  The Editors had spoken and so too would their ultimate first choice for the office of President of the United States speak.  Hillary Clinton clones, and future Cabinet appointees would have an opportunity to commune with the local and television audience.  America had all it needed on the platform, powerbrokers and their pawns, those the wealthy tell us are prepared to be President.

The Register believes “preparedness” must be the primary consideration.  Thus, they were ready to dispute any claims that they may be less than equitable.  Interestingly, among the arguments, explanations, and assessments the Carolyn Washburn, debate moderator and Editor of the Des Moines Register offers an odd evaluation of the event.  The prideful host reflects . . .

I’m pleased to say reaction has not been all one-sided.  I’ve received a slew of e-mails from people thanking us for a civil discussion that gave the candidates equal time, on important issues, with smart questions.

Each person permitted to stand on the stage may have spoken for the same number of minutes.  Nevertheless, The Register in its infinite wisdom did not give Presidential hopefuls identical access to the television audience.  No one cannot deny that even among those who publish in the Register there is some question as to whether all the aspirants were treated alike.  Kevin M. Cashman, Grinnell  also wonders whether Leaving candidates out of debate compromises democracy  Principles our founders established centuries ago may be of no consequence to the Des Mines Register.  Electability may be the one subject of import.  Perhaps a presumed winner is the only issue of worth.  Moderator, Carolyn Washburn made her stance known early on.  The Editor explained the rules and the audience gasped.

“We won’t talk a lot about issues like Iraq.”

~ Carolyn Washburn, moderating the presidential debates in Iowa

To not speak of the war that dominates American policy seemed unthinkable.  However, this restriction was only one of many constraints.  There was much deemed unmentionable in this televised discussion.  The names Kucinich and Gravel would not mouthed.  Although that, for the candidates on stage, was great.  The Big Three had long hoped to narrow the field.  For months, each said to the other, I need more time and attention.  At this assembly, more than the two men excluded from the debate were labeled  taboo topics.

Washburn, the earnest and schoolmarmish editor of the Des Moines Register, stunned the political world when she announced, at the beginning of the Republican debate on Wednesday, that she did not want to talk about Iraq and immigration, at least not in any “concentrated” way.  She continued that policy Thursday with the Democrats, asking not a single question about Iraq.  The words “terrorist,” “Iran,” “Pakistan” and “al-Qaeda” didn’t get even a single mention.

What did viewers get instead?

“Tell us your New Year’s resolution for 2008,” Washburn proposed.  Groans emanated from the media room down the hall.  Hillary Clinton said she would exercise more.  Barack Obama said he would be a better father.  Richardson pledged to lose weight.

Weight was lost.  Little of substance was discussed in this silly “debate.”  What was touched on; yet never fully explored was the inevitable .  Clinton would control the White House, regardless of whether the publication ultimately endorsed Hillary, Barack, or John.  Former Governor Bill Richardson, Senators Joseph Biden, and Chris Dodd were never a consideration for more than Cabinet positions.  With the latter three on stage the Register could offer a façade of fairness.  

Richardson, a former Clinton appointee would walk in lockstep.  Dodd also accepts much of the status quo; he is agreeable when Hillary craves a defense.  Dodd and Joe Biden are formidable legislatures.  They are certainly not Presidential material.  They are not cut from the charismatic Clintonian cloth.  These gentlemen are well versed in how to closet what is.  Neither, in debate, or in deliverance of policy will be the voice of change that must be muffled.

For thirty-five years, or so we are told again and again, Hillary Clinton has trained for this coronation.  As critical as the New York Senator might have been of the young Baracks’s youthful essay in which he declared his desire to be President of the United States, the former First Lady always knew, even if Obama had an edge, if Obama were to win, she would still be in the White House.  This was confirmed at the Des Moines Register Debate.  

While individuals in the media and even some of the candidates complained, the Register Debate offered no revelations, there was at least one  enlightening moment.  America now knows, there is no reason to quarrel over whether Hillary or Barack ultimately become Commander-In-Chief.  Either way Clinton will be in the White House.

[R]eporters  . . .  sensed a major story when Clinton interrupted one of Obama’s answers with a burst of laughter.  When Obama was asked how he would “rely on” so many of former president Bill Clinton’s advisers, his wife cackled, then blurted out, “I want to hear that!”

“Well, Hillary, I’m looking forward to you advising me as well,” Obama replied, and Clinton laughed again.

The question was asked.  The quip of an answer was widely appreciated, and reported on the national news.  Had Americans reacted with more than quick laughter, they might have cried with disgust.  Perhaps, upon hearing the banter, a thoughtful public would have pondered, and then exclaimed, “The more things “change,” the more they stay the same.”  We learned regardless of which of the top tier candidates Americans choose, change will only be a word, never said above a whisper.  There is little difference.  The Clinton experience will cloud the Oval Office if either of these marvelously manipulative candidates is Americas choice.

Years ago, the Former First Lady roamed from room to room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  As she strolled the hallways, she encountered those who advised her husband and now counsel her opponent, Barack Obama.  

Barack Obama does not hide his list of advisers, or at least not completely.  A short trek to his website, and Americans can look into the future Obama Oval Office.

For Obama’s presidential bid, Senate staffer Mark Lippert is the critical link between the campaign, the Senate staff and the senator.  Lippert has accompanied Obama on the three international trips Obama has taken while in office.  Lippert, who has a master’s from Stanford in international policy, has had a hand in every major Obama speech and statement on international affairs and deals with the senator daily.

Lippert, a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy Reserve, came to Obama after working on the Senate Appropriations Committee Foreign Operations Subcommittee for five years and has handled foreign policy and defense issues for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

Besides Lippert, the core Obama group consists of three people who worked in President Bill Clinton’s administration: former National Security Adviser Anthony Lake and former senior State Department officials Susan Rice and Gregory Craig.  They meet regularly in Washington.  Lake was the NSA adviser during Clinton’s first term.  Rice was the senior adviser on national security affairs for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004, an assistant secretary of state for African affairs and a special assistant to the president at the National Security Council at the Clinton White House.

Craig — quarterback of Clinton’s impeachment defense team — was director of policy and planning at the State Department under former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  In 2000, Craig was at the center of the fight over Elian Gonzalez, representing the Cuban youth’s father in his custody fight.  Craig met Obama in 2003 at a fund-raiser for his Senate bid at the home of Washington powerbroker Vernon Jordan.

The Obama circle widens, depending on the need for expertise.

During the Clinton administration, Jeh Charles Johnson was general counsel for the Department of the Air Force. . .

The Obama foreign policy team deals with counterterrorism, democracy development and the inter-related matters of energy and the environment, global health, homeland security and nuclear nonproliferation, among other issues.  There’s also a cadre of former Clinton officials who are very involved with the Obama campaign who for now want to stay below the radar screen.

Interestingly, Barack Obama could have obscured this substantial connection to the Clinton White House, for originally, this report was published in the Chicago Sun Times.  Prominent Journalist Lynn Sweet offered this glimpse into the crystal ball months ago.  However, rather than hide the snapshot into another Clintonian strategy, Barack Obama proudly beams.  The Clinton advisory staff is on his side.  Now, we know Hillary will be among them if perchance she is not the President.

When Barack Obama offered Hillary Clinton what some thought a slight, many took delight.  Absorbed in laughter, few pondered the profundity.  A vote for the lead gal or the guy is one in the same.  The truth is, if the Senator from Illinois becomes President of the United States, we may still have the two Clintons in the White House Along with all their counsel.

Numerous Progressives tout, John Edwards is different and he is, in that he is not a woman, nor is he an African American.  A white American male is certainly a novel concept, or so the former Senator Edwards wishes it was.  Beyond this classic characteristic, well . . .

I shouldn’t have to say this – what matters is what the candidates stand for and to whom they’ll be beholden if elected.  My problem is the three don’t look so far apart to me – certainly not enough to justify demonizing one and canonizing another, as my left-wing correspondent does.

The differences seem more like branding: the strong, experienced woman; the black (but not too black) inspirer of hope; the hands-on economic populist crusader.  Or if you prefer, the evil pro-corporate phony and everyone else.  No sooner had Clinton announced her health care plan, for example, than my colleague John Nichols denounced it as a gift to the insurance industry.  Fair enough, but this is the same health care plan that Elizabeth Edwards said with some annoyance was copied from the one her husband – the man who cares about poor people – had put forward months before.

Obama’s plan is similar.  Likewise, on the same day that my colleague Laura Flanders wrote that an Obama campaign rally in New York City was buzzing with progressive energy, I read in The New York Times about his attempt to woo McCain voters in New Hampshire.  Both these things can be true – but isn’t being all things to all people a bit, well, Clintonian?

How real are the differences among the top three?  Let’s take a look.  All three candidates want to disengage troops from Iraq while maintaining some kind of military handle on the place.  If getting all the troops out ASAP is your top priority, vote for Richardson, Kucinich or Gravel.  All of the top three are largely uncritical of Israel (Clinton, in fact, voiced support for a Palestinian state in 1998 and was creamed for it).  Clinton probably is a shade more hawkish than the others, but all three buy the trope of the “war on terror” – in August, Obama even said he would strike Pakistan if that’s what it took to capture Osama bin Laden.  Maybe that was a slip or a mini-pander to 9/11 voters (well, not so mini if you’re a Pakistani).  He has since made more peaceful noises and followed Edwards in supporting the global abolition of nuclear weapons (a position originally put forward by Ronald Reagan, and now by Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn and George Shultz, so let’s not get carried away).

On domestic policy, the three have similar boilerplatish positions on education and immigration; all three are pro-choice without qualifications.  Hurray!  But, although nearly three in ten Americans are poor or near-poor, only Edwards has made a campaign issue out of social and economic inequality.  Only Edwards seems to grasp the significance of our widening class divisions.  Obama, indeed, has suggested he’ll reduce taxes on “the middle class,” which may be code for “expect no big government initiatives.”

How tied in are the top three with corporations and Wall Street?  Hillary Clinton is notoriously unapologetic about receiving large donations from wealthy interests.  But Obama has received a lot of corporate and Wall Street money too – in fact, he’s received more money from hedge funds than Clinton.  Edwards has refused to accept donations from lobbyists (Obama soon followed his example), but this could be merely a nice piece of branding: there are plenty of ways for the interest groups’ lobbyists to put favors in the favor bank besides writing a check to the candidate.  

As we scan a list of the top contributors to John Edwards campaign, we understand the significance of this statement.  Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Incorporated, Deutsche Bank, appear prominently among a list of law firms.  Of course, we might say this is the nature of politics.  If candidate is to be effective, he, or she must communicate their message broadly.  Commercials and print correspondence are costly.  A treasure chest filled with riches is required.  Cash might be nice; it is more difficult to trace.  Paper trails give evidence to what any Presidential aspirant may wish to avoid, the truth.

Vowing not to accept contributions from lobbyists isn’t a foolproof plan for Edwards or Obama.  Both still accept money from state and local lobbyists, employees at law firms that offer lobbying services, family members of lobbyists and former lobbyists.  Contributions from Washington lobbyists have still managed to seep into both Democrats’ coffers.

At the end of the 3rd Quarter, the Edwards campaign listed $4,500 in contributions from seven registered lobbyists, according to Federal Election Commission reports.  The campaign returned one of these contributions in early November, a spokeswoman said, and the refund will be reflected in year-end filings.  When Capital Eye alerted the campaign to the other donations that would appear to violate Edwards’s policy, the representative said the campaign had missed those contributions and would return them promptly.

The Obama campaign had collected nearly $34,500 from 29 registered lobbyists by the end of the campaign’s first nine months of fundraising, according to FEC reports.  The Obama campaign did not respond to several requests to review those records.

Obama and Edwards also refuse money from political action committees controlled by corporations and other interests, but they and every other presidential candidate accept money from employees of corporations and other interests that employ lobbyists.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 14 of Obama’s top 20 contributors employed lobbyists this year, spending a total of $16.2 million to influence the federal government in the first six months of 2007.

Of Edwards’s top 20 contributors, only seven have employed lobbyists this year, spending a total of $6.3 million.  But the plaintiff attorneys who dominate the list of Edwards’s top donors are well represented in Washington by the influential American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America), which has spent at least $3 million on lobbying this year alone.  As for Clinton, all but four of her top 20 contributors have employed lobbyists this year.

Hence, it is easy to understand why the Des Moines Register acted as they did.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel would offer unwelcome nuance to a stage full of affluent agents for the status quo.  Those that think policy as usual is preferable have no reason to rattle the profiteers that sponsor the standards.  Perchance, the periodical’s own endorsement, offered shortly after the Iowa Debate explains what we all knew.

The job requires a president who not only understands the [insert . . . minimal and on paper only] changes needed to move the country forward but also possesses the discipline and skill to navigate the reality of the resistant Washington power structure to get things done.

That candidate is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Indeed, for the staff of this Iowa periodical Clinton is the perfect Presidential hopeful.  She speaks eloquently of transformation and has already altered the face of Clinton.  Bill becomes Hill.  More importantly, Hillary Clinton, the first presumed electable, formidable female aspirant, is deftly able to follow the map laid out before her.  After all, she is, and has long been a audacious part of the White House landscape.  With Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office, we will have Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards, all rolled into one.  

Question: What could be more glorious?  Answer:  For me, sheer bliss would be Dennis Kucinich, as President of the United States of America.  I am not alone in my belief.  One need only acknowledge that in numerous polls the truest candidate of change leads all others Democrats.  Dennis Kucinich is the people’s pick for President.  The aspirant is the one person funded and followed by common folk.  Imagine; if the periodicals, pundits, and the politicos who grab the floor would give the people a choice.  I do dream; I trust the thought is not absurd.  Achieving a Kucinich Presidency is possible.

“Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.”

 ~ Miguel de Unamuno [Spanish Philosopher and Writer]

Sources, Sponsors, Secrets, and Special Interests . . .

Hillary, I am in no mood for 2013!

To view the full pictorial image please click your heels on this path and journey inward.

© copyright 2007 Storm Bear Town Called Dobson

I am honored to present the work of an artist I admire.  Storm Bear publishes and resides in a Town Called Dobson.  I am privileged to offer his message at BeThink.  I am often amazed by his quickness and quip.  The wit and wisdom Storm Bear shares can captivate the mind and open a heart.  I hope you will take pleasure in this political contemplation.  Please ponder the words and pictorial perspective of Storm Bear.

Last evening Democrats debated in New Hampshire.  The hopefuls shared their strategies.  [Some refused to state their agenda.]  Iraq was the issue of most import for many.  The host, Tim Russert, inquired, ‘If you were President when would you issue orders to bring our troops home.’  An expectant audience hoped to hear when the candidates thought we might exit Iraq.

Artist and political analyst, Storm Bear heard the answers the aspirants offered and went to work.  Please travel within and reflect as Storm Bear has.

© copyright 2007 Storm Bear Town Called Dobson

Please view the artist original work . . . Hillary, I am in no mood for 2013!

HRC can’t make a commitment to bring the troops home before 2013?

Well, I am terribly sorry, then it seems I can’t make a commitment to vote for her.  I am looking for a President, not a wanna-be.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Meet Average Americans

AFL-CIO Democratic Debate August 07, 2007 part 6

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Last evening Keith Olbermann refereed the Democratic Debates.  It was a glorious affair.  The unionists, members of American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations [AFL-CIO] put a face on America.  This voluntary federation consists of fifty-five [55] national and international labor unions.  The people within these organizations rarely are placed in the limelight.  While these workers are the public, they do not often receive attention from those meant to represent them.  The Senators, Congresspersons, Governors that serve the common folk infrequently speak with these individuals.  On Tuesday, August 7, 2007 some of the elected elite, those seeking a higher office did. 

Democratic Presidential candidates took to the stage at Soldiers Field in Chicago, Illinois and spoke in front of a crowd of fifteen thousand [15,000] workers. 

One might consider everyday employees are what make this nation, and all countries throughout the globe, great.  The common workforce is what truly sustains this planet.  Nonetheless, the masses are neglected.

In the United States of America, people are not protected.  Miners are not given the safety rights afforded to them.  Hospital workers are fired if they attempt to organize.  Veterans are not assured a job when they return from battle.  After, fighting in Iraq to defend our rights, a soldier discovers he has few opportunities here at home.  Soldiers, still serving, are forced to purchase many of their own supplies.

In this, the country considered the world’s superpower, a loving and loyal man lost his job with LTV Steel after thirty-four long and arduous years.  A disability prevented him from continuing to toil as he had.  Ultimately, the company that once employed this faithful fellow went bankrupt.  Many American corporations do; “outsourcing” depletes our human resources.  The liquidation had an affect on this gentleman.  He lost a third of his pension and his family forfeited all of their health care. 

Every day as this chap sits across from his wife at the kitchen table, he thinks of how she devoted thirty-six years of her life to his family.  His heart hurts.  “Steve” struggles with the knowledge he cannot afford to pay the premiums to ensure [insure] that the love of his life has health insurance.  This devoted family man and employee inquires, “What is wrong with America, and what will you do to change it?”  I ask, what will each of us do.

Will we understand as a political observer seated among the unionist said to his son.  “This is not sport.”  Elections are the main event.  Our lives literally depend on this decision.  Do we plan to vote for a candidate that looks good?  Might we cast a ballot for the person that sounds strong.  Is “electability” our determinant or will we vote for an individual that truly respects the rights of workers, and indeed is one of them.  You decide.  I have.  I will vote for the man [Congressman Dennis Kucinich] that is and has long been a member of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations [AFL-CIO.]

References . . .

  • Keith Olbermann is Ready to Referee a Presidential Debate, By Anthony Layser.  TV Guide. August 7, 2007
  • Keith Olbermann’s ‘Countdown’ grows, The former sports host makes the news feel like pop culture.  By Paul Brownfield, Los Angeles Times.  August 7, 2007
  • LTV Steel
  • Primary Elections Lost; Electability Lives

    2008 election primary disaster for democracy

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Tonight we witnessed a change.  Apathy is no longer part of the American election process.  Cable News Network brought citizens to the tube and the televised Democratic debates to you, the voter.  We, the people were given an opportunity to participate as we have never done before.  Throughout the airwaves, the word is “This event was a success.”  The format helped to develop a dialogue.  The conversation flowed.  The panel was far more authentic.  Responses were not rehearsed; the interaction was more real.  Thus, we have reached a consensus.  All agree, except for at least one, me.  I think this broadcast was the pinnacle of what has been standard in politics since 1960.  The medium is the message.  Image makes a President.

    A candidate is sold to an expectant public.  Theatrical events are exciting, exhilarating, even entertaining.  Everyone rushes to be part of the process, so much so that America holds primary elections in name only.  Primaries in the year 2007 are the main event.  Each state is vying for eminence.  They want to be the earliest to lure Presidential hopefuls to their region.  Mostly, each territory yearns to select the national nominee.  Apparently, it is a privilege to claim, ‘we picked the President.’

    The 2008 presidential race will be shaped, in unpredictable ways, by a parallel competition among states leapfrogging one another in pursuit of a greater voice in the nominating process.

    The maneuvering threatens the traditional roles of Iowa and New Hampshire as gatekeepers of the White House competition. It has the potential to change the dynamics of the battle among the candidates and significantly alter its terrain of issues.

    Measures now poised for consideration in legislatures across the county would mean that voters in some of the largest states would be able to cast primary ballots weeks before the first Iowan enters a precinct caucus.

    Gone are the days when a nominee represented the whole, the Party wrote the platform, people were able to meet, greet, and speak with the contenders personally.  The public once shaped a national strategy.  Now advisors and advertisers do.

    In this nation, we spend months and much money in an attempt to determine who we think will win.  Politics are polls.  Primaries pick the person representing the Party.  Our countrymen and women do not familiarize themselves with the depth and breath of a candidate’s position.  Indeed, if a Presidential aspirant does not meet the presumed height or weight requirement, they do not have a chance of being heard, let alone seen.

    Those of us who watched the recent debate might have noticed, the production was well staged.  The mis-en-scene was marvelous.  Every aspect, lighting, color, placement, the particulars were well crafted.  The “decided” “front-runners” were placed front and center.  They dressed in vibrant shades; clothes make a statement.  The top performers were more comfortable in their position.  Body language spoke volumes. Perchance, hand motions were a reflection of their perceived rank among registered voters or their prominence in the political community.  The camera followed those who stand tall in the eyes of promoters, and oh, yes, thanks to advocates that “delegate” authority these candidate now are considered powerful and perfect in the minds of future voters. 

    The moderator, articulate, and handsome Anderson Cooper favored the big three.  If a citizen video asked an individual a question, that person answered.  However, if the query was not meant for one of the notables, the fave few were still given an opportunity to reflect aloud.  Time restraints were less tight for the preferred.  An inquiry intended for all was infrequently addressed to each of the possible respondents.  However, we could be certain the privileged had a chance to discuss and deliberate.  That’s entertainment.

    We have heard that at least two of the top contenders wish to lessen the number of hopefuls on a stage.  For them, Senators Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, the process is nearly over.  The point is to be seen or heard widely on screens nationwide.  These candidates know image sells, issues are irrelevant.  A scant sense of where a campaigner stands is enough to garner support.  There is no need for more.

    Thus, this televised debate was, as elections are in recent years, staged and set.  Decisions are made.  Content is excluded.  Context is crucial.  The primary, as far as the public is concerned is the general election.

    Currently, campaigns are produced and directed by the mainstream media, public relation persons, marketers, advertisers, and promoters.  The people, unknowingly are pawns.  The process is void.  In these times, primaries promote a single agenda, electability.

    In days of old electing a President was a progression.  Primary elections allowed even the most unrecognized candidate an opportunity to be known.  Those on the stump traveled to the early primary states.  They gathered in regions that held caucuses.  They met the people, the common folk.  Aspirants kissed babies, hugged mothers, and shook the hands of papas.  A Presidential participant could be seen in a local dinner, in the home of your neighbor and on the streets. 

    The campaigns were not a snapshot or two.  Sound-bites did not dominate television screens.  Crowds gathered without be invited or screened.  The people on either side of a Presidential hopeful were genuinely interested in the candidate’s position.  Town people were not purposely placed to create an impression.  In the past, decisions were grounded in dialogue.  Citizens did not choose to support an entrant because he or she had great hair, a nice smile, or wonderful commercials.

    The process of electing the President is essentially divided into four stages:
    (1) the pre-nomination phase, in which candidates compete in state primary elections and caucuses for delegates to the national party conventions;
    (2) the national conventions?held in the summer of the election year?in which the two major parties nominate candidates for President and Vice President and ratify a platform of the parties? policy positions and goals;
    (3) the general election campaign, in which the major party nominees, as well as any minor party or independent contenders, compete for votes from the entire electorate, culminating in the popular vote on election day in November; and
    (4) the electoral college phase, in which the President and Vice President are officially elected.

    That was then.  This is now.  Admittedly, there were problems in the past.  America is an expansive territory.  There is much land to cover, many people to meet.  Sadly, only a few citizens followed their potential leaders.  Often the wealthy and influential wielded much power.  Principally, the affluent brokered the election, and the apathetic remained poorly represented.  Much has changed, or so it would seem.  Indeed little is different.

    In this, the Information Age, people consider themselves connected, cognizant, and active.  Grassroots organizations flourish.  Some say elections today are as the founding fathers intended them to be.  Participation is far broader than it was in early American history.  More individuals, from every walk of life, now help determine who the nominees will be.  Witness last evening’s glorious broadcast.  Cable News Network reached out to you, the common man, everyman, and made it possible for any of us to speak to the nominees.  We could watch from the comfort of our homes and determine whom we would support in the “primary” election.  That is, unless we had already decided.  It seems most of us had.

    If we had any doubt about which candidate we want in the White House, there is one thing the majority of people agree on; they want to win.  If a Presidential hopeful leans towards the presumed party platform, they have a chance.  However, if they are thought too far astray, they alienate the voters.  If a contender genuinely embraces the issues that people say are important to them, that petitioner may be thought too bold.  A true Liberal is extremely far left.  An actual Conservative is a kook.  “Electability is essential.

    The longer a particularly party is out of office, the more desperate they become.  Witness the Democrats in 2004, or in this, the 2008 campaign.

    Democrats’ Litmus: Electability
    Key Issue for 2008 Race
    Poses Hurdles for Clinton, Obama
    By Jackie Calmes
    January 11, 2007

    WASHINGTON — For a party long known for subjecting presidential wannabes to a battery of litmus tests, on issues from abortion to trade, Democrats are uniting in raising one big issue for 2008: electability.

    Who can win? That question is paramount for many activists, donors, and voters, desperate to reclaim the White House. In addition, it’s one that poses a big hurdle for both Democratic front-runners, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

    Widespread concerns about whether either could get elected — Mrs. Clinton because she is a woman, and a polarizing figure; Mr. Obama for being African-American, and relatively inexperienced — potentially prevent either from running away with the Democratic nomination. That, in turn, is what keeps hope alive for about a half-dozen rivals maneuvering for advantage should the leaders stumble. Of that pack, polls and early organization suggest the best-positioned is former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the 2004 vice-presidential nominee. Today Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut officially joins the race with his announcement on the syndicated radio show “Imus in the Morning.”

    That was the belief in January 2007,only seven short months ago.  In the winter of this year, who could have predicted the fate that would eventually befall Don Imus.  In July, who might know with certainty whether Hillary Clinton will perform as promised.  In this era, it may not even matter.  Winning is what counts, even in the primaries, at least so say the Democrats.

    The primaries have taken on the aura of a national election.  Citizens no longer care if one candidate has a position more reflective of their personal philosophy.  Potential participant plans go unread, unless the possible nominee shows promise.  The public wants to be assured that the contender might take the Presidential prize. 

    Much is based on image.  Senator Clinton appears Presidential, and indeed she may well be.  The former First Lady knows how to persuade and please a crowd.  Senator Clinton had a successful career as a lawyer.  She met husband, former President of the United States, Bill in law school.  While serving as the First Lady Hillary Clinton learned much, she did plenty.  During the July debate, Senator Clinton reminded the audience that she is well traveled; she has met with many world leaders.  Clinton confirmed she was greeted with confidence; dignitaries had no doubt that she was their equal.

    In last evening’s debate, Clinton dressed to impress and used large sweeping hand gestures that suggest she is strong and confident.  The Senator stood center stage; camera angles were flattering.  The cool and calm Clinton could be seen clearly, no matter where a viewer might look.  The day after the July 2007, debate people said Hillary looks and sounds “Presidential.”

    There was a key moment, however, and once again it pitted Clinton, the New York senator, against Barack Obama, her counterpart from Illinois.  The question was whether they’d promise to meet in the first year of their presidency with the leaders of such enemy nations as Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

    “I would,” Obama said, foolishly showing his inexperience, and perhaps his naiveté as well, in foreign affairs.  After all, he said, President Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and still talked to Soviet leaders. “I think it’s a disgrace we haven’t talked” to leaders of the five anti-American countries, Obama said.

    Clinton benefited from getting to answer after Obama, and she made the most of it. She said, firmly and coolly, that she wouldn’t promise to meet with them. Clinton said the new president had to be careful not to be exploited by hostile leaders for propaganda purposes and not to do anything “that would make the situation worse.” Before any meeting, she’d have to know “what the way forward would be.”

    The verdict on whose answer was better, Obama’s or Clinton’s, came from John Edwards, the next candidate to speak. He echoed Clinton.

    Seemingly, unshaken and perhaps contemplating that Hillary Clinton could in practice, craft a policy reminiscent of the Bush Administration,  ruling out “early” talks and possibly even later diplomatic discussions with nations defined as ‘rogue,’ Obama stood steady.  Senator Obama may understand what occurs when America waits to engage in diplomacy.

    Barack Obama appeared quite “fine” with his answer, and did I mention is quite fine-looking  The Senator, also an Attorney, and former State Legislator, is a long, and lean man.  He is keen on the issues.  Senator Obama eased any concerns; he is experienced enough, and well seasoned.  The long primary process alone has helped hone his skills.  Barack Obama can cook a goose, even if it belongs to the former First Lady.  Senator Obama is indeed a rising star.

    Obama Narrows Gap With Clinton
    By John Harwood
    The Wall Street Journal
    April 26, 2007; Page A6

    Orangeburg, S.C. — Sen. Barack Obama has pulled close to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that suggests doubts about his electability are diminishing.

    As all Democratic presidential candidates gather here for their first televised debate tonight, the poll shows Mr. Obama trailing Mrs. Clinton by 31% to 36%; 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards runs a solid third with 20%.  Last month, Mr. Obama lagged 12 percentage points behind.

    Moreover, the poll shows that rank-and-file Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters don’t perceive a wide gap between the two front-runners in their ability to defeat the Republican nominee in next year’s general election; 39% say Mrs. Clinton has the “best chance,” while 32% say Mr. Obama does.  The finding indicates that, just as the first-term Illinois senator’s robust early fund-raising has undercut one of Mrs. Clinton’s presumed advantages, his relative inexperience hasn’t emerged as a major impediment in his competition with the former first lady who now represents New York in the Senate.

    Mr. Obama “seems to be gathering momentum as the candidate of change,” says Neil Newhouse, the Republican pollster who helps to conduct the Journal/NBC survey.  At a time when Americans want a new direction on Iraq and in Washington generally, adds his Democratic counterpart Peter Hart, “Sen. Obama comes closest to matching what voters are looking for in the broad political environment.”  The telephone survey of 1,004 American adults, conducted April 20 to 23, carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

    The percentage of voters supporting John Edwards is high in some communities; however, not in all.  John Edwards is definitely a looker, and he is smart.  Each may work to his advantage.  Nonetheless, as of yet he is not considered the media darling.  Perchance, his loss in the 2004 Vice Presidential bid had a lasting effect. 

    Senator Edwards received much sympathy when his wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer.  Nonetheless, his decision to continue with the campaign drew ample criticism.  Neither may be the reason for his current standing.  It may simply be that being a white man holds him back.  America has seen many a Caucasian male in office.  The people say they want a change.  clearly considering Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are far more moderate than the other Democratic hopefuls, a novel approach in policy is not enough to convince an expectant public that you are Presidential.

    As the former Vice Presidential participant, Senator, Edwards perceives a need to strengthen his position, to change the way people see him.  Interestingly, John Edwards chooses to focus on an issue the front-runners avoid.  The hope is this will solidify the impression he is authentic.

    Edwards’ travels could bolster his image as the most liberal of the leading Democratic candidates, a shift from his 2004 run for president.  He has staked the position with uncompromising opposition to the Iraq war and an expansive healthcare proposal.

    Though poverty may not resonate as an issue with most Americans, “there are few groups that are more concerned about the poor than Democratic primary voters,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman.

    Edwards could also benefit from talking about poverty, precisely because there is apparently so little political gain, demonstrating a personal conviction that transcends polling.

    He has laid out perhaps the most comprehensive program of any Democrat running.  His goal is eradicating poverty within 30 years through tax credits and other incentives, programs expanding access to healthcare and higher education, and government creation of 1 million “stepping-stone jobs” for adults who have struggled to find work.

    In the Information Internet, always connected, cyberspace age candidates are running as fast as they can.  The delegates at a national political convention no longer choose the Party’s nominee, you and I do.  We sit in front of the television or at a computer screen and consume audio-visual information.  The media massage the message they believe we want to see or hear, as do the advertisers, public relations persons, and decidedly, the aspirant.  America has no time to waste.  Winning is all that counts.

    If a candidate is short or stout, small or diminutive they do not have a chance.  A scream can destroy the democratic process.  There is no defending what some think “inappropriate behavior” for a Presidential campaigner.  Electric shock treatment is inexcusable.  Americans hesitate to vote for a candidate that sweats or sighs during a debate.  A scowl also can cause criticism. 

    If you are not a macho man, never, ever dress in camouflage fatigues and place yourself in a tank.  Cameras are everywhere.  The American public can be less than forgiving, especially when the tape is rolling.  In the Information Age, the medium is the message.  A picture is worth far more than a thousand words.  Considering few citizens read periodicals, let alone Presidential platform papers, this adage is truer than ever.

    Nonetheless, Americans think themselves knowledgeable; convincing them that they are not is quite a challenge.  People have fragile egos and are firm in their commitment to electability.  Everyone you ask will tell you they are informed.  “I watch the news, read the papers, and peruse the Internet.”  In January 2004, Americans surveyed by Pew Charitable Trust reported just how connected they are.

    Cable news networks are the most frequently cited source of campaign news for young people, but the Internet and comedy programs also are important conduits of election news for Americans under 30.

    One-in-five young people say they regularly get campaign news from the Internet, and about as many (21%) say the same about comedy shows such as Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show.  For Americans under 30, these comedy shows are now mentioned almost as frequently as newspapers and evening network news programs as regular sources for election news. 

    But people who regularly learn about the election from entertainment programs ­ whether young or not ­ are poorly informed about campaign developments.

    In general, Americans show little awareness of campaign events and key aspects of the candidates’ backgrounds: About three-in-ten (31%) can correctly identify Wesley Clark as the Democratic candidate who had served as an Army general and 26% know Richard Gephardt is the candidate who had served as House majority leader.  People who say they regularly learn about the campaign from entertainment programs are among the least likely to correctly answer these questions.

    In contrast, those who learn about the campaign on the Internet are considerably more knowledgeable than the average, even when their higher level of education is taken into account.

    Nonetheless, even among the more educated the desire to support a winner can influence who they choose.  Pragmatism is the prominent consideration, particularly for Democrats.  In 2008, after four plus four years of George W. Bush the cry continues, “Anyone but Bush.”  Progressives, Liberals, Blues, and Greens feel they must move forward, regardless.  Issues be damned; these are important, but not worth the sacrifice.  Democrats declare, ‘We must beat Bush.’

    As for the liberals who make up Democrats’ base, for all their passion about jobs and global trade, health care, the environment, abortion and gay rights and especially the war, these days the left cares “big time” about whether a candidate can get elected, says Robert Borosage, co-director of the union-supported advocacy group Campaign for America’s Future.

    Likewise, feminist leader Kate Michelman says that in her travels, “I hear people talking about ‘electability’ all the time, and Democrats are going to continue talking about it.” Even among audiences eager to see a female president, she says, skeptics ask, “Do you think the country is really ready for a woman?” Ms. Michelman is supporting former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards — not, she says, because she considers the front-runners unelectable but because Mr. Edwards is the best candidate for women’s issues, and electable.

    Even the most ardent activist cannot deny the electability factor filters his or her familiarity or that more than half a year before the primary her mind is made up.  Indeed America has changed.  The primaries no longer provide the average American citizen with a voice.  We, the people do not build a Party platform.  The guiding principles are established before we reach the polls. 

    John Kerry was thought to be electable, and some say the Senator won the popular vote in 2004, I among them.  Nonetheless, can we, will we continue to negate that the win was not a landslide.  Electability does not guarantee a win.  Electability is a myth.  The numbers do not always add up.  Please do the math, take the measure of a man or woman into consideration.  Subtract the electability factor and then decide whom you will choose.  A candidate may look good on screen; they may be well trained.  However, if they do not represent you as a whole do you really want, them in the White House.

    Please America let us not settle.  Images are nice, but they will not exit Iraq immediately. Nor will they meet with Heads of State, unless they think the time is right, if it ever is.  America has seen the damage caused by such a stalwart stance. 

    A perfect Presidential posture does not endorse marriage for all people, no matter their sexual preferences.  A suave Sue or Sam will not necessarily work diligently to insure all citizens universally have health care.  An attractive and accomplished Joe or Jane  may not have a care for  our well-being.  A lack of Social Security or Medicare will not be their undoing.  They will be paid and cared for regardless of the reverence they show for us, the people that elect them.

    Contenders say, ending poverty must be a priority.  However, did you hear the candidates speak?  The vast majority of these contenders were never poor.  They are willing to work for minimum wage because they can.  How many millions sit in their bank accounts gaining interest?  Without supplementing the windfall from these funds, many struggling Americans could easily survive on the principal alone.  If the future President did chose to live on a minimum wage, it seems certain their “constituents” would donate to their cause.

    Educating the Whole Child and improving schools is surely an issue that affects most Americans.  Yet, almost all these aspirants sent their own children to private schools.  A few stated that when their children were younger they attended public school for a time.  However, more than one mentioned they were glad they later transferred their children to a private institution.  You know how the media can badger a famous offspring. 

    Global warming is definitely a crisis.  The rise in water temperature directly correlates to our use of oil.  Nonetheless, little was proposed beside fuel efficiency.  Our dependence on petroleum will likely not be dealt with.  Candidates that ask Americans to sacrifice their cushy lifestyle may not be electable.

    There is so much more to ponder and peruse than electability.  Please, let us do and be more, our planet, people, young, and old depend on us.  I invite you to read the plans of each Presidential hopeful.  Do not glance at only the proposals of those you think pretty enough to pass the electability test.  Remember this is a primary election, not the general and final opportunity to cast your ballot.

    Tell the Presidential entrants what is really important to you before it is too late.  You may recall, in 2000, George W. Bush thought George W. Bush was a likable guy.  He had a record; the junior Bush was Governor of a large state.  That is certainly impressive.  He was personable, in good shape.  His wife was cute. In 2000, people voted for a personality.  Powerful political plans were thought to be less important.  Witness our current circumstances and then consider.

    Now, we have a chance to be more cautious.  We can choose carefully.  Each of us could tell the candidates where we really stand.  You, dear reader, might express what you need. Perchance, the primary election could be as it was intended to be, an opportunity to tell your Party what you, we, I value.  The national Party can shape a platform, rather than rely on one individual to determine what is best for us, everyone of us, as a whole.  This primary election could demonstrate the power of the people, or . . .

    Alternatively, Americans can do as is done in the Information Age.  Citizens can profess to be educated and vote for the candidate they think will win, regardless.  We can presume that a participant understands our experiences, that essentially, he or she has the qualities we desire.  However, if we do not take advantage of the primary process, use this time to familiarize ourselves with the aspirants one by one, face to face when possible, if we do not remember and acknowledge this is not the general election, we will get what we accept, an impressive image.

    Primary, Secondary Sources . . .

  • Democratic Debate, July 23, 2007. Cable News Network. 
  • Race For the White House. Cable News Network.
  • Presidential Debates. Cable News Network.
  • States vying to vote early primary primacy, Presidential primary muddle could reshape entire campaign. By James O’Toole,  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Sunday, January 28, 2007
  • Democrats’ Litmus: Electability, Key Issue for 2008 Race Poses Hurdles for Clinton, Obama. By Jackie Calmes. The Wall Street Journal. January 11, 2007
  • pdf Democrats’ Litmus: Electability, Key Issue for 2008 Race Poses Hurdles for Clinton, Obama. By Jackie Calmes. The Wall Street Journal. January 11, 2007
  • Dems shouldn’t put all of their eggs in the ‘electability’ basket, By Walter Shapiro.  USA Today. November 4, 2003
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  • pdf John Edwards road-tests poverty theme, By Mark Z. Barabak.  Los Angeles Times. July 13, 2007
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  • pdf Obama Narrows Gap With Clinton, By John Harwood. The Wall Street Journal. April 26, 2007; Page A6
  • 2008: 7/23 straw poll results. By Kos.  Daily Kos. July 23, 2007
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  • Defending Dean’s Scream, It Just Wasn’t That Weird, By Dick Meyer. CBS News. January 23, 2004
  • Thomas F. Eagleton, 77, a Running Mate for 18 Days, Dies. By Adam Clymer. The New York Times. March 5, 2007
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  • Kerried Away, The Myth and Math of Kerry’s Electability. By William Saletan. Slate. Wednesday, February 11, 2004, at 12:41 AM ET
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  • Online poll: Bush is likable. By Michael D. Clark. The Cincinnati Enquirer. September 10, 2000