Thursday, January 25, 2007

The 2008 Presidential race: A playground for political junkies

The campaign for the 2008 Presidential election has gone into high gear. I can't remember a Presidential election race that has drawn so many candidates so early. George W. Bush's dismal White House performance over the past six years has obviously impressed contenders in both parties that the bar for Presidential qualifications has been lowered.

I consider myself a political independent, although I normally vote Democratic. The only Republican candidate for whom I might consider voting is Nebraska's Sen. Chuck Hagel. But the very qualities that I find attractive--his liberal social views and his opposition to the Iraq war--are what make it unlikely that the Republicans will nominate him.

I once greatly admired Arizona's Sen. John McCain. But I've lost my respect for him, largely because of his insane demand to send still more American troops to Iraq. Moreover, his pandering to the right-wingers who defeated his 2000 campaign for the Republican nomination makes me question his integrity.

Three months ago, I touted Gen. Wesley Clark in this blog as my favorite Democratic candidate. I still regard him as the best hope for intelligent and honest national leadership. But he doesn't seem to be gaining any political traction, and he is evidently failing to gain the financial support required to run successfully.

So I am rooting for Al Gore to run again. It's hard to forget that he would have been in the White House these past six years had it not been for a disgraceful Supreme Court decision. I have no doubt that the nation would now be in considerably better shape--economically and security-wise--with Gore as President. It's unclear, however, whether Gore is willing to go through the election ordeal again.

That brings me to the front-runners, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. It's become a cliche for some Democrats that Mrs. Clinton is unelectable because of deep-rooted public hatred for her. I've never understood why this is so, but I think that as a Senator she has improved her political image.

My own respect for her, however, has diminished because of her equivocal stance on Iraq and other issues. And though I was a fan of her husband, I've become weary of political family dynasties. The Clintons are no Bushs. But I'm turned off by the prospect of getting what Bill Clinton once called "two for the price of one" back in the White House.

I consider Sen. Barack Obama to be one of the brightest and most refreshing new figures in the political arena. Nevertheless, he has yet to really spell out his views on many vital policies, and his record of significant personal achievement is modest. Still, a similarly modest background did not keep George W. Bush from the Presidency.

The excitement about Obama's charisma, sparked by his 2004 convention oratory and his subsequent brilliant autobiographies, shows how desperate many discontented voters are for a political messiah. Perhaps because I am an old fogey, however, I confess to some discomfort about having a President almost a decade younger than my own child.

The Obama boyish charm that excites so many people diminishes the gravitas that one expects from the world's most powerful man. George W. Bush has not been an exemplar of Presidential gravitas, and maybe that's a factor for the damage to America's international image and influence.

Obama's popularity has provoked the right-wing, xenophobic cranks to emphasize his middle name, Hussein (as if that links him to the infamous Saddam), and that both his biological father and his stepfather were Muslims. It should also be noted that his first name, Barack, is the Arab version of the Hebrew "Baruch," or blessed.

According to Obama's autobiography, his Kenyan biological father, with whom he evidently had limited contact, abandoned Islam and became an atheist. His Indonesian Muslim stepfather enrolled him briefly in a Jakarta elementary school that the cranks hysterically and incorrectly describe as a religious madrassa linked to Islamist terrorism.

These claims from the sleazy extremists have almost encouraged me to support the youthful Illinois senator simply to protest their nonsensical slander. I would prefer to see Obama selected as the Democrats' Vice-Presidential candidate. This would provide him with the apprenticeship that would strengthen a bid for the Presidency in 2016, assuming the Democrats can hold on to the White House for two terms.

There is considerable Democratic talent ready to challenge the two front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Obama. John Edwards, John Kerry's running mate in 2004, seems to be coming on strong. (I am thoroughly enchanted by his lawyer-wife, who projects the kind of personal charm that many think would bolster Hillary Clinton's image.)

Governors Thomas Vilsack of Iowa and Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Senators Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Joe Biden of Delaware are also impressive politicians who would bring honesty, decency and intelligence to a White House missing these qualities over the past six years.

For a news junky like me, the next 20 months are shaping up to be an exciting political playground. I hope that the result will be a newly energized nation and a return to the international glory the U.S. once once enjoyed.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clark hasn't even declared yet. It's still very, very early. When he declares he'll make a big splash.

Friday, January 26, 2007 12:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to dis-agree with the senators' remark about Dick Chenney
"not being in touch with reality" statement, regarding Iraq. Guess
he's not aware of Chenney's relationship with Haliburton.

On the subject of the roads that are being built in Afghanistan.
It's being reported they're being built by the U.S. Who really is
building the roads, the military or a private contractor or maybe
a sub of Haliburton? Good idea, let's build a better road so they
can smuggle their opium and trained terrorists easier. Somehow
I just don't see how that is in the best security of the of our
homeland.

Then they wonder why our educational system is falling behind.
I'm beggining to think some would prefer it that way.

We need to look at Bill Richardson's resume and what he is
proposing. It will definitely take a "man on the moon effort" to
reverse the damage that has been done to this country in the
pursuit of fossil fuels and emense wealth. The current way has
taken us to professionals having discussions of 'doomsday' scenarios.
If we continue on the status quo we are definitely in trouble.

A "man on the moon effort by the U.S." is the only thing that
will reduce our independence on foreign oil, and I for One would
think that would have been a much better use of our wealth than
the trillion and untold lives we will have spent on Iraq and Afghanistan
before we are broke.

Hope it's not to late before we get Richardson into office. Check him
out.

Friday, January 26, 2007 2:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Nutmegger said...

Dodd has been a great senator, and I hope this run goes well for him, even though I'm not fooling myself. He'll still be a senator in 2009.

But things like yesterday where he held a hearing on the credit card companies extreme secrecy is great. I'm surprised it's not more of a scandal that they charge fees like something called "interchange" without it being disclosed at all.

If Dodd can fix that, he's a hero. He would be a terrific cabinet member for a Democratic president.

Friday, January 26, 2007 9:36:00 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Unlike you Mortart I dread the next 2 years. I am so tired of shoddy politics and it seems like noone cares for the middle income Americans. I had the same thought that you did in your first paragraph...that the political bar has been lowered (almost flat to the floor) by Bush, so that any one could feel qualified. Whatever happened to Statesmanship?

Friday, January 26, 2007 5:36:00 PM  
Anonymous serene Ambition said...

Just arrived and glad to meet you Mortart. I pretty much match your political sentiments, although I am more concerned about the cuture around government than which particular individual sits in the chair. We desparately need to see an evironement where leadership and respect are distinguished and acknowledged. I have been working most of my life to transform institutional cultures that have their own intertia regardless of who the leader is. Creating these kinds of large scale paradigm shifts in my experience always require personal responsibiltiy by the rank and file --- in this case each one of us who 'own' this great democracy including its flaws.

I am a relatively new blogger at www.sereneambition.com and am including you on my blog roll as someone who has something important to say.

Looking forward to more from you. From what I can see, you are part of creating a 'leadership conversation'.

Thursday, February 01, 2007 6:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought you may like this link-

2008 presidential election candidate and polling information -
WhoWins 08.com

Thursday, February 15, 2007 7:13:00 PM  
Blogger merjoem32 said...

I would also prefer to see Obama selected as the Democrats' Vice-Presidential candidate for the 2008 presidential race instead of being the Presidential nominee.
I feel that he needs more experience that is vital in handling the responsibilities of a president. After all, being the President of the US is one of the most important positions in the world.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 4:03:00 PM  

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