Sunday, September 30, 2007

A 19 Year-Old Kucinich Volunteer Responds to Democratic Candidates in "FANTASYLAND"

by Kevin Gosztola Page 1 of 3 page(s)

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The top Democratic candidates, Obama and Clinton, the two who were the primary focus of the debate yet again (and I make that conclusion by the order that the questions were asked of candidates), proved themselves to be subscribers to faulty logic that involves blaming Republicans and not taking responsibility within the party for failures in the past seven years. Obama used jargon such as “bad options and worse options”, “no promises”, “country at crossroads” and “need someone to bring people together”, “take on special interests”, “telling truth even when it’s tough”, “everything should be on the table”, etc. Clinton used jargon such as “I agree with Barack”, “don’t have votes”, “don’t want to talk about what might or what might not happen” (hypotheticals), “not gonna answer”, “bipartisan commitment”, “fiscal responsibility”, etc. The “top two” candidates, which have been decided to be the “top two” by media coverage and media polls taken, basically spent two hours telling the American people that they will not promise anything, they will not say that change can be made, they will not talk about possibilities even when that may give us insight into the mind of a future leader of America, and they will most certainly avoid answering questions specifically and instead use heavy-handed rhetoric. They will go to Republicans even when president to find out if their plan is acceptable to them or not. In relation to the "top two", the other candidates, appeared to distance themselves from the “top two” and attempt to overhaul their image in the eyes of the American people so they could be more like Kucinich or Gravel. These candidates (Biden, Dodd, Edwards, Richardson) should be thankful that the majority of American people are still unclear on who Gravel or Kucinich is and do not think about them as possiblities for president because they've been blacked out by the media.

Through this article, I intend to look at three key elements of this debate that should be focused on. One, I will look at the answers on Iraq. Two, I will look at the health care discussion. And three, I will examine the overall element of corporate power/special interests that Democratic candidates claim to stand against.

To help you understand where this article is coming from, understand that this Democratic debate had a high level of tunnel vision preventing it from really discussing the issues, which is what most debates suffer from. It neglected the idea that the two parties are the same and subjecting Americans to a two-party dictatorship. It neglected to look at the fact that Democrats are moving away from progressive and liberal ideas that are supposed to be the crux of the Democratic party. In essence, it neglected to ask if the party is anything more than one whose mascot is a donkey. For with recent failures in Congress and all other candidates (except Kucinich, Gravel, and surprisingly, Richardson) unwilling to go after Senate and Congressional Democrats, what can we really expect from these future leaders of America whom we expect to pummel any Republican opponent because polls show a Democrat will skate in whether a Democratic candidate has good policies or not?

Think about that as I move through the three key elements.

The Iraq Question

Tim Russert’s question went something like this: Will you pledge to have all troops out of Iraq by 2013 at the end of your first term as president? Any American who heard that, myself included, must have been put off by the fact that Russert wasn’t framing the debate around getting troops out in the first months in office. Russert had reframed the question so that Obama and Clinton would not refuse to talk because they cannot give “hypotheticals” or make “promises”. So, to play it safe, he moved the date 5 years ahead so that Obama and Clinton could indeed talk about their policies that they have written out and talked of on the campaign trail. This set the stage for Obama, Clinton, and Edwards to become the “war candidates” and not the anti-war ones they claim to be.

Only Kucinich, Gravel, Richardson, and to some extent, Dodd, really said they would be in no way continuing deployment in Iraq until 2013. By some extent, I mean that Dodd kind-of said the troops would be brought home in his first year or second year in office but definitely by 2013. Biden is an exception to the whole 2013 projection because he has a plan for de-facto partitioning of Iraq and federalizing the nation that, according to him, would curb civil warfare and genocide. His plan that I believe few of the top candidates understand but claim to support would mean we stay even further past 2013 if no political reconciliation occurs. This is what Obama is talking about when he calls for a continued military presence. This is why, possibly, Edwards “cannot make that commitment” to end the war. Obama, Edwards, Biden, and even Hillary who spoke out in favor of the Biden Amendment, support Biden whose plan would leave troops in to do what our troops have done in Bosnia for 10 years---“maintain peace.”

It was not until Russert had Gravel speak up that sanity was inserted into the discussion on Iraq, which had been regrettably missing. All the other candidates who had spoken prior to Gravel had failed including Kucinich. This is what Gravel brilliantly stated on Russert’s qustion involving what to do to stop the war (and he was asked this because he takes credit for stopping the draft):

“By voting every day on cloture 20 days at noon, every single day you vote to override, overcome. Forty days [throughout those] American people weigh in putting pressure. You tell me the votes aren’t there? You go get them by the scruff of the neck.”

Russert amplified his remark realizing how important it was to talk about what the candidates thought Congress could do to stop the war. He went and asked Dodd after Gravel said, “If it stops the killing, my God, yes, do it.” Dodd’s response to Gravel’s call to candidates to take action resulted in him saying that this 200 billion dollar request gives Democrats the chance to do what Gravel is asking them to do. What Gravel wants in Dodd’s opinion is unrealistic, but stopping the funding with clarity and leadership is ultimately what needs to be done because this war needs to be halted.

It was also at this point in the debate that Gravel boldly went after Hillary for voting for the Iran bill and after Obama for not being there while congratulating Biden and Dodd for voting against the bill which, as he characterized it, is a “fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran.”

Richardson went after Hillary for wanting to continue any kind of troop operations because that would “prevent movement forward.”

So, it appears that Dodd and Richardson are shifting their position to be more like Dennis Kucinich’s and essentially learning from him.

Kucinich again, as he has redundantly stated in all debates or forums since this race started because it is constantly falling on deaf ears or being ignored by the media, said in his statement on Iraq that he has voted 100% of the time against war and all bills to fund the war. He mentioned his plan H.R. 1234, which he has introduced in Congress. And he spoke of how when the Democrats took power in 2006, they were to end the Iraq War and bring the troops home. Kucinich said it is astonishing to hear Democratic candidates stand up here and say this could continue to 2013 and promised that 3 months after taking office he would end the occupation, close bases, bring troops home, set in motion a program of reconciliation (no partition), implement an honest reconstruction program, have a program of reparations, and give Iraq full control over their oil, which currently all the other candidates up on the stage are ignoring. He quoted Lincoln who said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And indeed, he added, if we continue and divide Iraq, more war will occur. He also flubbed and said he would do this by April 2007 but made a nice recovery saying “he’s ready to be president today.”

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Kevin Gosztola is from Mishawaka, Indiana. He is studying film at Columbia College in Chicago and loves movies but has an even greater love for this country. He has been reading political books and following politics since he was 15 years old feeling that it is necessary to pay attention to his country, a feeling that was instilled in him by his 5th grade teacher when she asked us all to watch the news every morning. He likes music especially music with politically charged lyrics or progressive undertones. He hopes to become a filmmaker who makes regular movies along with avant-garde ones and documentaries. In everything he does, he wants to fight for the greater good and also push the limits of what is accepte in society. He believes in life with no boundaries and loves the underdog. That's why he supports guys like Kucinich for 2008 even when people around him point at him and laugh calling him crazy. He's not afraid to lose if he knows what he's doing is right.

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