Sunday, February 23, 2003

Rekha’s World – The Democratic Candidates

She’s at it again. In a piece about the field of 2004 Democratic presidential candidates, Rehka slams U.S. policy on Iraq and praises and Al Sharpton.

It's barely 2003, and the race for next January's presidential caucuses is already feeling overwhelming. Three more Democrats joined the field last week. Candidates are busting through Iowa faster than a photo-op can be exploited. It's all you can do to recite their names, much less match them up with positions on war, corporate accountability, ag subsidies and taxes.
I have to admit, I've had trouble working up excitement. We could be bombing Iraq into oblivion any day. The government is instructing us to buy duct tape and plastic to ensure our very survival - then it isn't. Our kids are shipping out daily to join the fight, and much of the world sees us as the schoolyard bully.

First, we discover that Rekha is both overwhelmed and indifferent. She’s a complex one, that Rekha. She’s overwhelmed because there are so many… count ‘em, EIGHT! Uh oh, almost past fingers and then on to toes… And you know what, they're campaigning, and there’s so many of them it’s hard to line them up with their platforms. She’s indifferent because we’re about to bomb Iraq back into the stone age.

Yeah, Rekha, that’s why we’re dropping leaflets on Iraqi military positions telling them that if they stay put, WE WILL LEAVE THEM ALONE… if they mass for a counter attack, we WILL pound them.

We are NOT going to saturation bomb residential areas of Baghdad, okay. We are going to do everything we can do to minimize civilian casualties. We’re going to try to leave as much of the infrastructure intact as possible. Why, because we’re going to PAY TO REBUILD IT, YOU NINNY.

And if you think that the overwhelming majority of Americans directly and indirectly involved in the coming Iraq operation do not have great concern for innocent Iraqi noncombatants, then … I shan’t try convince you otherwise. Except to say this. Our concern for the suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein is one of the prime (No, Rekha… I know, not the only one… and in your world view that taints us) reasons for going it and deposing that dictator.

After reading today’s article, I think I have an idea of who at least one of Rekha’s role models must be, Molly Ivens. Didn’t they teach you in journalism class that hyperbole is a club you take out of your bag seldom and usually only in combination with irony or sarcasm…?

She’s concerned over the duct tape thing. Yeah, that was pretty stupid; I had to agree with her on that one, but probably would not agree for the same reasons. See my Blog below on why I, as a Libertarian support the coming war on Iraq.

And then… oh no… much of the world sees us as a schoolyard bully. Much of the world has got to mean France, Germany and the nincompoops who would be at a WTO conference or PETA march. Rekha forgets to pay even lip service to the former Soviet Block states that have lined up in support. Maybe that’s because they have recently shaken the yoke of totalitarian oppression. They KNOW what the people of Iraq are living through, up close and personal. And they also know that they owe their recent freedom in no small part to that petulant, pugnacious schoolyard thug… the United States of America.

With life-or-death issues hanging in the balance, speculating about a distant election feels indulgent, irrelevant. Who can focus on what will happen nearly two years from now? I want to know what's going down this week.

Very dramatic… and who would of guessed that Rekha is short sighted…? So the campaigning is starting too early and it’s irrelevant… I get it.

Besides, when you live in the first caucus state and you're in the media, you get blase. Candidates swarm through here and we handicap them: Who has the best organizational strength, oratory, big-name supporters, money?

Yeah, she’s a veteran… she knows that political stuff.

Unfortunately, in the process, we can minimize the importance of what they stand for.

They stand for getting elected, Rekha.

This year's candidates stand for a rich diversity of agendas. Look at them and you're almost looking at America. They include two African-Americans, a Jew, a woman and a Croatian-American who grew up in a working-class Cleveland neighborhood. They range from a former presidential wannabe to a civil-rights activist who's never held elective office.

Ah… diversity. I’ve got a piece in the works on that one. And I would change the second sentence slightly to read: “Look at them and you’re almost looking at America’s special interest groups.”

At a pivotal time, these folks are coming through here and sharing insights on the major issues.

Okay, I was wrong, the campaigning is not too early, and in fact it’s timely because of current events. Jeez, it’s hard to keep up with her.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is planning a stop at the Oakridge Neighborhood. It's a rare day when someone at his level even visits that part of town. His chances for the White House may be remote. But for residents of the Des Moines public-housing project, it has to be a big deal to be courted by the man who marched with Michael Jackson, advised Abner Louima and Wednesday was a guest on "The Tonight Show."

The Rev. Al Sharpton. It should be a rare day when the Rev. Al is not in jail. Hey Rekha, I lived in New York during the entire Tawana Brawley scandal. I saw Rev. Al and his co-conspirators Alton Maddox, and lawyer C. Vernon Mason, knowingly slander the reputation of an innocent officer of the law. It’s odd that you mention the Abner Louima case and ignore the Brawley thing. And… just a little tip here… being seen with Michael Jackson may not be something that you really want to bring up to support the Rev. Al… babies dangled over balconies and all… As for appearing in a public housing project, where else in Des Moines could he more easily avoid hard question about the Brawley scandal and other issues he would get pounded for in any other venue.

On her trip last weekend, former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun was scheduled to eat breakfast with African-American women professionals and speak at an American Women Presidents event, held in just three U.S. cities. Only one non-press person turned out for the blizzard-marred event, but my mother saw the speech on national TV in New York. "Iowa is everywhere," she observed. She"d also heard Dick Gephardt has to win Iowa. "Iowa is key."

After talking about diversity (again, I’ll deal with “diversity” in another piece), she focuses only on the other black candidate, Carol Moseley-Braun. Yes, Mosley-Braun gets to speak in such “diverse” venues as meetings of “African-American Women Professionals” and “American Women Presidents” (hey, I didn’t know we had an female president…and no, Hillary doesn’t count…). Just like in her profile of the Rev. Al, Rekha neglects to talk about how Mosley-Braun was turned shown her way out of the Senate by Illinois voters in the wake of a campaign funding scandal and her alleged coddling of the late Nigerian dictator Gen. Sani Abacha.

Living here, we can forget to take advantage. Whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be, [s]he has a real chance of unseating the president. Just 45 percent of registered voters say they'll likely support George Bush for re-election, according to a recent Los Angeles Times poll; 40 percent said they'd probably back whoever the Democratic nominee is. And it's early.

Yes Rekha… I know that you’re hoping for a replay of Bush the Elder. In my best Dana Carvey, GHW Bush voice, “Nawt gonna happen.” The fact that it’s early should be the Democrats worst nightmare going into 2004. Chances are the economy will turn itself around by then… the people will think that George W. did it and we’ll have four more years. I wouldn’t mind seeing George W. gone, but again not for the same reasons as Rekha. He’s spending money on domestic discretionary programs like a drunken sailor… but again, that’s another piece.

It can also be hard for us in the heartland to feel connected to what's going on in the rest of the country and world. Sept. 11 felt as remote from here as the current threats. But we could use our pivotal role in the presidential-selection process to get a first-hand perspective on the news. John Kerry has served 18 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kucinich is one of six members of Congress to have sued the Bush administration over a war with Iraq. Gephardt until recently was House minority leader.

Rehka wants us to get perspective on the news from presidential candidates… so silly, no need to comment.

Get out and hear them talk. You don't have to be a donor or even a Democrat - just care about the future.

Just care… that’s what’s important… caring. Don’t think, don’t analyze, don’t make tough decisions… just care.


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