Cos (cos) wrote,

2008 presidential candidates

A New Hampshire friend asked me what I thought of all of the candidates, tonight. With the NH primary tomorrow, I wrote this almost stream-of-consciousness ramble about all of the ones she listed, plus a few she didn't list that I know were running. Just in case you want to see it, or pass it along to others, I'm also posting it here. It's not my best writing, or as well-argued or fleshed out as I could do, but it's late and the NH primary is tomorrow. This is more or less my opinion of each candidate.

> Democrats

> Hillary Rodham Clinton

She'd be a pretty good president, compared to most of the ones we've had in my lifetime, but I'm unexcited about her.

I think she's stuck in old political contexts and ways of thinking - a world where Republicans are respectable, political dialogue is controlled by the big TV networks and major newspapers, the big political divide is rooted in the 60s/70s (Vietnam, Roe v. Wade, etc.), you win office through big donors and corporations, you triangulate to get centrist swing voters to support you, ... ... stuff that's become less and less true. Some of it is still true but I think she'd perpetuated it more than help us move on.

I fear she would take a great opportunity to do great things, and squander it on little things. I also see her as being on the opposing side of the struggle within the Democratic party over what it is to become (my side being the Howard Dean side of things).

> John Reid Edwards

I was very suspicious of him in 2003/2004 (when he first ran for President) because of his vote for and early support for the Iraq invasion, even though he apologized for it and said it was a mistake during that campaign, but now that he's been a strong opponent of the war and advocate for ending the occupation for four years my suspicion is dissipating somewhat. I like his fighting populist message, because I think that's something that needs some more emphasis in our nation's political dialogue, in the press, in Congress. He only served one term in the US Senate and his record from that term is one I have mixed feelings about. I'd like to see him do well in the primaries. He's one of the candidates I was considering supporting, particularly since a lot of the movements I support have allied themselves with him, though I can't quite shake my uncertainty.

> Robert 'Mike' Gravel

Kook! Has some great positions (get out of Iraq ASAP), and some that I think are totally ridiculous (like replacing all taxes with a high national sales tax). It's a pity he's getting excluded from debates, though.

> Dennis J. Kucinich

Closest to me on the issues, but would not make a good president. His administration of Cleveland was disastrous, even though he was 100% right on the big issues he fought over. Perhaps he's gotten better at building relationships, working with other people, compromising when needed, finding the sweet spot to get as much done as you can without letting everything crumble... but I'd like to see him try again on a smaller scale before I'd consider him for the presidency. Then again, I'd really just like to see him stay in Congress, where he does a great job focusing on the issues he knows best and cares most about.

> Barack Hussein Obama

I've been tending towards him for a month or two now. He seems like a good bridge-builder, able to actually lead and bring people along with him (rather than the Hillary Clinton method of gaining support by figuring out what people already want and adapting herself to that). He was a pretty good state senator, and a great orator and campaigner. I used to be very annoyed at him for running for president before serving at least one full term in the US Senate, but I've come around somewhat on that - maybe this really is the best time for him, and he is what the country needs. I don't think he'd waste the opportunity. Also, as far as reforms within the Democratic party that I personally care about a lot, I think nominating him would leave space for those to continue as they should. Finally, I'd love to have a black president with some muslim background, both for the powerful symbolism and the very real practical effects that symbolism will have.

> Bill Richardson

Amazing experience! Such a pity he hasn't been able to campaign well and his message has been falling flat. If he could communicate betterwith the public and people were going for it more, he's one of the candidates I'd have supported, but alas, it is not to be. I really hope whoever does get elected makes Richardson their Secretary of State. He's been a Congressman, US Ambassador to the UN, US Secretary of Energy, and popular two-term Governor of New Mexico (he was re-elected in 2006 with 68%, the highest percentage anyone had ever gotten in an election for Governor in New Mexico history). He's negotiated personally with North Korea and Saddam Hussein and succeeded, he's been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, he knows the Middle East and Latin America and Native American issues and all sorts of other things in depth and with experience.

I used to be annoyed at him because of his initial response to a questionable vote count in New Mexico in the 2004 election, but he has since made up for that by supporting good election reforms in New Mexico.

Joe Biden

US Senator from Delaware. Jokingly referred to on some blogs as "The Senator from MBNA" or "Joe Biden (D-MBNA)". Also, doesn't seem to have a message. I have no clue why he's running or what he's running on, and I have serious problems with his support for legislation skewed towards big corporations (such as his support for the horrible Bankruptcy bill in 2005, favoring credit card companies).

Chris Dodd

(he just dropped out after a poor finish in Iowa, but is on the ballot)

The one I've contributed money to most often, even though I knew he had no chance. He's been a pretty good Senator from Connecticut for a long time. I had a big problem with him a few years ago over his support for computer voting machines. He was well meaning, just wrong - his motivation was to improve the ability of disabled people to vote unassisted. He also started the campaign for president with no apparent message or reason for people to support him, so I ignored him... until this summer & fall. He took some very strong stands for civil liberties and against police state type laws, and started making a lot of noise about it and working hard in the Senate. His start of a filibuster is the main reason why telephone companies haven't yet gotten a free excuse from Congress for collaborating in the Bush administration's illegal spying in the US, for example. So he basically made himself into the civil liberties candidate in this election and I wanted to support that.

> Republicans

Meta-note: The Republican Party, on a national level, has gone off the deep and and then some. Electing a Republican president would continue the disaster.

> Rudolph W. Giuliani

Corrupt, war-mad tough guy. He did some good for New York as mayor, perhaps, but he overstayed his welcome, and at the same time, he also did a lot of damage. His campaigns against the homeless, petty crime, street culture, art, and anything weird made me hate him. That was before I knew about his sleaziness, mob ties, and total lack of ethics. At least he was somewhat socially liberal, though without that he couldn't have gotten elected in New York. But being comfortable with gay people and supporting abortion rights doesn't completely balance out forcing live music venues to close and forcing artists out of the parks; he's not really socially liberal.

> Michael D. 'Mike' Huckabee

Very likeable and great speaker. I love some of the things he says. Allied himself full-bore with the religious right. He's their candidate, and if he wins they win. Dangerous.

> Duncan L. Hunter

Far-right-winger with no chance at the nomination. I mostly ignore hime.

> Alan L. Keyes

What, he's running again? I didn't think he was running this time? Far-right & religious-right, ridiculous, and with no chance.

> John Sidney McCain

It's a pity, he used to be a good guy. The kind of politician I can disagree with on most issues but still respect. The kind of Republican nominee I'd like to oppose with some real debate. But something happened to him, perhaps when he decided to convert to Bushism in 2004. Whatever it is, he's lost it, and it's sad. He used to criticize the religious right's excessive influence, now he embraces it. He used to actually oppose torture, now he just tries to do enough to make it look like it but is willing to accomodate. And he also seems to have clearly lost touch with the present in other ways.

I'd still have opposed him even if he were the old McCain, because he's been strongly supportive of the Iraq war since the beginning and continues to think it was a good idea and that the occupation needs to continue. Since I think it's the worst self-inflicted & avoidable disaster in American history (the worst one was the civil war but I tend to think that was unavoidable), I consider his judgement unfit for the presidency.

> Ronald Ernest 'Ron' Paul

Most interesting of the Republicans. I've been following him for many years, and I'm glad he's in Congress because he sometimes says things that someone ought to but nobody else does. Sometimes he says things that don't need to be said at all, too :) But that's okay, because he's harmless. He is completely ineffective. As far as I can recall, he's never gotten any legislation passed, or succeeded in getting things done through the committee process either; basically, if any legislative language comes from Ron Paul, it's a pretty sure bet that language has never actually made it into a law.

His policy positions range from ones I want to cheer out loud for (cancel the Iraq force authorization! repeal the Patriot Act!) to things I vehemently fight against (define human life as beginning at conception; punish states for recognizing gay marriage), to things I think are so out of touch with reality they make me question his grasp on reality (abolish the legal tender laws and the entire Federal Reserve system; strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to review cases on abortion rights grounds). I think he's stuck in the past, I suspect him of being extremely bigoted and racist (he tries to distance himself from that stuff from his past but I don't buy it), and mostly, I'm glad he has absolutely no chance of being elected.

His campaign, however, is the most interesting and exciting one this time around. It's a real grassroots/netroots campaign. I'd like to see him do well in New Hampshire.

> Willard Mitt Romney

Gah! He got elected Governor of Massachusetts and immediately began neglecting the job and setting himself up to run for president by spending loads of time out of state, going to conservative events to make speeches trashing Massachusetts. He also swapped just about every socially liberal position he ran on, positions without which he couldn't have been elected here. When he ran against Ted Kennedy for US Senate he spoke emotionally about how he would be stronger advocate for gay rights than Kennedy; now he tells Republican audiences about how he tried his best to stop gay marriage. When he ran for Governor (and against Kennedy before that) he assured us he was pro-choice, and gave a story about a relative's abortion and how it affected him; then he proceeded to veto a highly popular bill to give women in MA access to emergency contraception, and now he's running in the Republican primary as strongly pro- forced labor (my term for the right-wing antiabortion position). He's flipped on issue after issue after issue, from extreme to extreme, with no explanation, prompting people to recognize him for what he is: someone who will say whatever he thinks people want to hear and doesn't believe in anything.

And even his supposed managerial skills and ability to run organizations well, turned out to be phony. He mismanaged oversight of big projects, especially the final stages of the big dig, as well as the Turnpike Authority and UMass, and he played silly games with the budget so that he could claim he was leaving Massachusetts with a big surplus which we discovered was actually a big shortfall only after his successor got into office and got a look at the numbers.

Lame, and phony. If he weren't so rich he'd never have been considered a serious candidate. I've been saying since 2005 that he was probably running for president in 2008 but had no chance.

> Fred Dalton Thompson

Doesn't seem to really want the job.
Says he's running, but not really campaigning.

Tom Tancredo
(I think he dropped out recently, but should be on the ballot)

One-issue candidate: anti-immigration. Yuck.

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