May 12, 2003
Eighteen months until the next general election and my "inbox" is already
filling with discussion about the presidential candidates. Like many
people I know, the closer we get to Election Day, the less attention I
give to political campaigns, so this may be the first and last column I
write about the 2004 election. Personally, I favor a non-partisan system
similar to that which the Cuban people have instituted. However, even the
most radical of American election reformers have overlooked the lessons
learned in Cuba and the 'progressive' proposals floated about in this
country are, by comparison, little more than sticks in the mud.
So take your shoes off and we'll muck about for a while.
I will assume that the Republicans will retain George W. Bush as their candidate, barring any unforeseen fatal encounter he may have with pretzels or whatever. So, in the spirit of fairness and because he is, if not the incumbent, the occupant, I'll first present the excellent résumé written by Kelley Kramer, a contributing writer to Liberal Slant:
Past Work Experience
Ran for congress and lost
Produced a Hollywood slasher B movie
Bought an oil company but couldn't find any oil in Texas, company went bankrupt shortly after [he] sold all [his] stock
Bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. Biggest move: traded Sammy Sosa to the Chicago White Sox
With father's help (and his name) was elected Governor of Texas
Changed pollution laws for power and oil companies and made Texas the most polluted state in the Union, replaced Los Angeles with Houston as the most smog-ridden city in America
Cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas government to the tune of billions in borrowed money
Set record for most executions by any Governor in American history
Became president after losing the popular vote by over 500,000 votes, with the help of [his] father's appointments to the Supreme Court
Accomplishments as president
Attacked and took over two countries
Spent the surplus and bankrupted the treasury
Shattered record for biggest annual deficit in history
Set economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12 month period
Set all-time record for biggest drop in the history of the stock market
First president in decades to execute a federal prisoner
First president in US history to enter office with a criminal record
First year in office set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in US history
After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, presided over the worst security failure in US history
Set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips than any other president in US history
In [his] first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their job
Cut unemployment benefits for more out of work Americans than any president in US history
Set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12 month period
Appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history
Set the record for the least amount of press conferences than any president since the advent of television.
Signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any president in US history
Presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed
Presided over the highest gasoline prices in US history and refused to use the national reserves as past presidents have
Cut healthcare benefits for war veterans
Set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to [him] (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind
Dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history
[His] presidency is the most secretive and un-accountable of any in US history
Members of [his] cabinet are the richest of any administration in US history (the 'poorest' multi-millionaire, Condoleeza Rice has a Chevron oil tanker named after her)
First president in US history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously go bankrupt
Presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud of any market in any country in the history of the world
First president in US history to order a US attack and military occupation of a sovereign nation.
Created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States
Set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any president in US history
First president in US history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the human rights commission
First president in US history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the elections monitoring board
Removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of congressional oversight than any presidential administration in US history
Rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant
Withdrew from the World Court of Law
Refused to allow inspectors access to US prisoners of war and by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions
First president in US history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 US elections)
All-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations
[His] biggest life-time campaign contributor presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation)
Spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US history
First president in US history to unilaterally attack a sovereign nation against the will of the United Nations and the world community
First president to run and hide when the U.S. came under attack (and then lied saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1)
First US president to establish a secret shadow government
Took the biggest world sympathy for the U.S. after 911, and in less than a year made the U.S. the most resented country in the world (possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history)
With a policy of 'disengagement' created the most hostile Israeli-Palestinian relations in at least 30 years
First US president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view [his] presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability
First US president in history to have the people of South Korea more threatened by the U.S. than by their immediate neighbor, North Korea
Changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts
Set all-time record for number of administration appointees who violated US law by not selling huge investments in corporations bidding for government contracts
Failed to fulfill my pledge to get Osama Bin Laden 'dead or alive'.
Failed to capture the anthrax killer who tried to murder the leaders of our country at the United States Capitol building. After 18 months I have no leads and zero suspects.
In the 18 months following the 911 attacks, [he] has successfully prevented any public investigation into the biggest security failure in the history of the United States
Removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in US history
In a little over two years created the most divided country in decades, possibly the most divided the U.S. has ever been since the civil war
Entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category heading straight down
Records and References
At least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving record has been erased and is not available)
AWOL from National Guard and deserted the military during a time of war
Refused to take drug test or even answer any questions about drug use
All records of [his] tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to [his] father's library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view
All records of any SEC investigations into [his] insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view
All minutes of meetings for any public corporation [he] served on the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view
Any records or minutes from meetings [he] (or [his] VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review
For personal references please speak to [his] daddy or uncle James Baker (they can be reached at their offices of the Carlyle Group for war-profiteering.)
My apologies to Mr. Bush for the possible incompleteness of Kelley Kramer's summation; but, it is rather thorough, isn't it? I will now keep the assessment of his Democratic challengers brief, as well. I might add that I would not be surprised to see Cheney step down "for health reasons" with Colin Powell replacing him as Bush's running mate.
On February 19, 2003, Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) announced his candidacy, I do not believe anyone was surprised and, after more than 25 years in Congress, his record on the issues is well known. He is 62 years old, has spent most of his adult life as a professional politician and is 'well-connected' on Capitol Hill. He was one of a minority of Democratic representatives who pushed for the House resolution authorizing Mr. Bush to wage war against Iraq, with or without United Nations' support. Apparently, he believes Congress has too many responsibilities and should relinquish some to the Executive branch. Big Labor supported his 1988 run for the White House and he may do well in the early primaries.
Then there is Joseph Lieberman, the third-term Senator from Connecticut and last election's Vice-presidential candidate. He also supported war in Iraq and, to my mind, is the perfect example of what we call "a republicrat." If Al Gore backs him along with the Clintons, he may become the candidate of compromise for scared 'right-wing' Democrats, of which there is a substantial block of voters. I thought he was right of Bush in the last election.
Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont has many wealthy connections and several terms in his pocket; he will be an appealing candidate for the 'liberal' Democrats. He's proven he can balance a budget and the economy may be of substantial concern in 18 months, he's a physician and children's healthcare advocate, he stood by his call for full UN participation in the war in Iraq; he seems to be about as much a capitalist/developer as is his friend, George Soros.
Florida Sen. Bob Graham is described as a 'centrist' and 'moderate' Democrat, he was a primary author of the USA PATRIOT Act.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is a career politician who hangs out with lawyers for the telecommunications industry. He is a Vietnam vet with great skills in camouflage and is especially good at morphing to please the one he's with. Friend Brian Willson recently sent him a letter picked up by the good folks at Counterpunch, the link to which is at the bottom of this page.
Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) sounds like a younger Tom Daschle, full of political aspirations and compromise. Rather an upstart southern Democrat with abortion as the hallmark of his liberality, he liked Bush's war in Iraq and he'll attract the ladies and the younger crowd if he gets the chance, though I have doubts about his access to competitive funding. Christopher Hitchens speaks highly of him.
Rev. Al Sharpton of New York is a fundamentalist Christian minister who probably preaches a pretty mean sermon and appeals to a large part of that Black community who opposed Bush's war in Iraq.
Carol Moseley Braun is a former Democratic Senator from Chicago who apparently can hold a crowd in an auditorium. She is the only woman to campaign thus far, is anti-war and pro-civil rights. She could activate the progressive Black constituency early in the primaries though I do not know from where she will get her campaign money.
That leaves Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. I see at least ten times the support for him as all the rest of the candidates combined but, of course, my mailbox is not representative of the American electorate. One of his most impressive if not original ideas thus far has been the creation of a cabinet level 'Department of Peace,' though I seem to recall someone else suggesting that very thing some time ago (it may have been one of the Arcata City Council members). He stood firm against the war in Iraq, insisted on a complete UN inspection process and from time to time, I notice him in the company of Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. Of all the Demos in the running, I'd vote for him, especially if Barbara Lee ran as his VP and Ralph Nader agreed to serve as his Attorney General. All this is but a pipe-dream from a one-hit bong, though. Kucinich doesn't have Big Money and few people outside activists' Listservs know much about him.
Still, eighteen months is a long time in many ways and many things can change. None of the above has said much in defense of the Palestinian people and I happen to believe that Israel/Palestine/Syria will be biggest of the foreign policy issues in 2004, presidential campaign or not. The economy will be an unavoidable issue for most Americans, cheap gas or not.
We shall see. Life goes on, the sun comes out, the mud dries up.
· · · · · ·
Resources and Related Internal Links
"George W. Bush's Résumé," by Kelley Kramer; Liberal Slant April 25, 2003 - http//www.liberalslant.com/kk042503.htm (as of May 9, 2003)
"Vowing To Vote Democrat Next Time?" by Alexander Cockburn, April 30, 2003, Creators Syndicate, Inc. - http://www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?columnsName=aco (as of May 8, 2003)
"Open letter to Sen. John Kerry" by S. Brian Willson, CounterPunch, October 15, 2002 - http://www.counterpunch.org/willson1015.html (as of May 8, 2003)
Actions & Ideas to NOT play the Game, on Swans
Michael W. Stowell is a local activist in Northern California.
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