Monday, February 04, 2008

A Highly Meaningless Presidential Endorsement: Who I'm Not Voting For

This might be one of the most meaningless political endorsements ever (I can't remember when I put my visitor counter on the blog, but it was over a year and a half ago, so that 5,000 some-odd visitors sounds less impressive averaged out over 700+ days, and keeping in mind it counts all the times I reread old articles or go back to edit certain old and depressing posts.)

But on the unlikely chance that you stumbled across this blog, and you're either an undecided voter in a Super Tuesday state (or post-Super Tuesday state) or just someone who knows me and for some strange reason respects my opinions on politics, well, this is the endorsement for you.

First a little background on why I decided I'd be going with the Democratic Party ballot on Super Tuesday (and much thanks to the state of Georgia for allowing me to decide last minute and not have to register with either political party long before hand.)

There are four remaining Republicans vying for the party's #1 spot: Sen. John McCain, Gov. Mitt Romney, Gov. Mike Huckabee and Dr. Congressman Ron Paul.

Mitt Romney has struck me as an empty suit since I first heard him speak. The YouTube videos showing his changing positions depending on when and where he was running did not dissuade me of that notion. The simple fact that he's had to state "no, I am not a robot," tells me that if he wasn't a multi-millionaire able to fund his own campaign, he'd have exited this race long ago. Willard Mittens Romney believes that a CEO is best suited to run the country.

But the United States isn't a business...or at the very least it is not like any other extant corporation. Worse, the man largely responsible for the myriad of messes we find ourselves in as a country, and current occupant of the White House was hailed as a "CEO President" and the "first MBA President." How's that worked out for all us?

Yes, in November 2000, when I was young, and stupid, and drinking heavily on a regular basis, that "CEO President" mystique was one of the few reasons I had for voting for Bush over Gore. I thought he'd surround himself with capable advisors. Instead he surrounded himself with the worst detritus of the Nixon and Reagan/Bush I administrations. Again, I was young, dumb and borderline alcoholic. I'm sorry. And it won't happen again. No vote for you Mittens.

Governor Huckabee, it's a little harder to easily dismiss. He's a former preacher, and unlike most top-level GOP politicians, he doesn't exhibit the same disdain for the poor and unemployed. He favors a massive overhaul of the tax system, and presents it as helping the poor. He's actually funny and was able to muster what sounded like praise for a Democratic candidate (Obama) during one of the GOP debates.

However, he also freed a convicted rapist, who subsequently went on to rape and murder again. His son seems to come from the Mike Vick school of animal treatment, and Gov. Huckabee tried to cover this up.

Most disconcertingly, he doesn't seem to give two flying shits about the separation between church and state, wishing that the Constitution be amended to reflect Biblical law. Substitute "Bible" for "The Quran" and you've got Sharia law. Worse still, Huckabee has been getting praise from the worst Christian "leaders"--the kind that make mainstream Christians launch into tirades of "no, really, that man does not represent my beliefs"--including such asshats as James Dobson and the Parents Television Council crowd. Now, if you believe the biggest threat facing the USA is a 10-year-old seeing a titty on television, Huck's your man. But he's not for me.

Now John McCain, I have voted for once already. My first Presidential Primary, while still young and dumb, but drinking a little less, I bought into the Straight Talk Express hype. Since then I've seen McCain decry Bush's tax cuts on one hand, then openly embrace him on the other, propose campaign finance reform with Russ Feingold on one hand, and then propose we stay in Iraq for 100 years on the other, propose environmental legislation on one hand and then go on record as not really knowing much about the economy on the other. Since then I've read "Up, Simba" by David Foster Wallace, portraying the less public side of that first Straight Talk Express. Since then I've had to see "War is my favorite answer" Joementum Liberman, in a move that may simply be petty payback for Ned Lamont challenging him for his Senate seat, spew ricockulous statement after ricockulous statement for the "Maverick" who has been in D.C. since 1983 (and the Senate since 1987). I know a quarter century in D.C. isn't likely to come up in the media (after all, George W. Bush, despite being the son of a former President and former head of the CIA, and grandson of a Senator, Yale-and Harvard-educated legacy, was painted as an "outsider.")

Now I respect the hell out of the service Sen. McCain has given the country, and for taking stands against torture and for a better environmental policy when all the GOP frontrunners were against it (and more disturbing, all the GOP candidates who and NEVER SERVED IN THE ARMED FORCES were all for torture and waterboarding, while Sen. McCain, who knows firsthand about what torture feels like, stood up against the US waterboarding.) So end the end, I just disagree with too many of Sen. McCain's key issues. Of the three most likely GOP candidates, he's the one I hope gets the nod though (I'll come back to this later.)

And lastly, there's the man with the signs all over Atlanta, Ron Paul. Dr. Paul has run as a Libertarian before, and in 2004, that was the party I voted for (almost the entire ticket). But I can't support him now. Part of that is my changed view on the Libertarian Party (another post entirely). But here are a few other issues:

1. The Gold Standard Thing. I have yet to have someone explain to me how the US becoming the one first world nation leaving fiat currency for an asset-backed currency would be anything but an unmitigated disaster for the US economy. And that even assumes that he's not serious about 100% gold-backed currency (as there simply isn't enough gold in the entire world to back the existing US money supply.)

2. His foreign policy. Ok, I agree about the overspending on the Military-Industrial Complex, all the foreign bases, and how financially we'd be better off abdicating our Imperial leanings. But I don't buy into a 100% isolationist approach. I still feel there's benefits to offering humanitarian and financial aid to other countries.

3. His paleo-conservative dislike of all Federal Government programs. This is the big sticking point. Dr. Paul's solution to an education system that isn't working? Get rid of the Department of Education! I've yet to figure out how that will help, but then, I think the Invisible Hand often flicks a lot of us off too.

So that leaves me with the three (yes, three) Democratic Party Candidates: Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama, and former Sen. Mike Gravel.

Ok: confession time. I've found myself agreeing with Mike Gravel on several policy issues. Sure, he comes off as a grumpy old man. The media calls him a grumpy old man. And, well, he IS grumped. Pissed off even. But after seeing things like Bush use over 1,100 signing statements to brazenly flaunt the Rule of Law, and most of the Senate lay down on challenging the warrantless wiretapping fiasco, among other things, I can say I'm pissed too.

But being pissed off at Bush won't get you elected. And as we head into a recession, being the candidate who's declared multiple bankruptcy, doesn't inspire confidence in Sen. Gravel's economical policy--even though being strapped for cash puts him more in line demographically with the average American voter. I wish he'd get a little more coverage, as getting word out about our massive military spending, from someone who has no real shot at the presidency, would advance the idea without either frontrunner having to take a hit on it. But he's got no real shot, and I plan on voting for someone with a shot to win this thing.

So to conclude part one of my endorsement blog post, here's why I won't vote for Sen. Clinton:

1. Going back to the 1990s is not enough of a change. Sure, some folks love the 90s. Me, I went through puberty in the 90s and had acne for a good chunk of the 90s, and braces for seven years in the 90s. I had my prom date cancel on me a week before my senior prom in the 90s. I see no reason the same media pundits that ripped on the Clintons mercilessly 10 years ago will suddenly change their stripes. That sets up for the fun of "Clinton fatigue" again.

2. Will the real Sen. Clinton please stand up? The talk radio bloviators are convinced she's a closet socialist (and they mean socialist in the Stalinist/Communist-conjuring way.) Swing a bit to the left (despite what Fox News said about them, the majority of posters at DailyKos don't seem far left, as very few even openly supported Kucinich, much less Gravel) and you find Democrats, Liberals and Progressives who openly distrust Sen. Clinton. Her husband ran as a Progressive against Bush I., but as his reelection neared, suddenly it was welfare reform, "the era of big government is over," and NAFTA.

3. Just say no to triangulation. See the last sentence in #2. Sure, in the short-term co-opting some of the GOPs key issues helped Bill get a second term, but it also reinforced existing Right Wing memes about government and moved the mythical "Center" to the Right. What good is a Democrat in the White House if she'll sell out Democratic ideals for votes?

4. How she's run her campaign. It's harder to believe the memes about "the Clintons will do anything to win" are just the Right Wing Noise Machine after the shit they pulled in the South Carolina primary. It's also hard to believe Sen. Clinton is a huge union supporter when her top campaign official, Mark Penn, makes his non-campaign living busting unions (and defending such wonderful folks as Blackwater).

5. Her foreign policy. This the biggest issue for me against Sen. Clinton. She voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. I don't believe she was naive or not smart enough to know Bush wanted war in Iraq--her husband got multiple signed letters from a group that held most of Bush's cabinet begging him to go to war with Iraq. Which raises the disturbing likelihood that her AUMF vote was a political calculation. Worse, she, unlike John Edwards, seems incapable of apologizing for her vote. Given her vote on Kyl-Liberman this year, perhaps she isn't really against pre-emptive war at all.

I was nervous about the precedent invading Iraq would set, and not entirely convinced that, while yes Saddam was nuts and no fan of the US, he was actually able of doing any damage to us. I didn't use my tiny public pulpit of the Red and Black to speak out against it, and I regret that. Sen. Clinton didn't read the National Intelligence Estimate and voted for the AUMF and won't apologize, and for me, that means I can't vote for her tomorrow.

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