Sunday, July 27, 2003

Kucinich, Kucinich, Kucinich 

My friend Jeremy doesn't believe Kucinich is electable. We are having a series of email exchanges on the subject, that began with an email from a friend of his:

<< Kucinich is a good man and I agree with his views more than the rest,
but like Ralph Nader, I think he's too radical to get elected, and if he
was elected, I think he'd be too radical to build the necessary
consensuses to get anything done. >>

I'm curious to know if you think I'm excessively cynical to
consider electibility in supporting a candidate. There are those I know
who apparently do. Of course, I also expressed a consideration about his
effectiveness as President.
I believe Bush II (by which I mean the military/industrial
complex) is extremely ruthless and dangerous when it comes to political
opposition. I strongly suspect that Paul Wellstone was murdered, for
example. I think the anthrax attacks were staged by domestic
intelligence services to maximize public fear and malleability. I think
it's curious that a full, public investigation of the events of 9/11 has
been opposed by the administration, which profited enormously from them
in terms of power and control. The 2000 election debacle, I think,
shows Bush II's complete disdain for democratic principles and respect
for the Constitution, the rule of law and fair play. I believe the tax
cuts and corporate deregulation are essentially bribes to the American
ruling class, including the mass media and our senators and
While I tend to identify more with Kucinich's ideas, I think he's
too fringe left and I don't think he's tough enough to face Bush II and
win. Al Gore wasn't tough enough. Howard Dean or John Kerry, I think,
might be tough enough, but whoever is the candidate will need the
overwhelming support of the American voting public. If it's close again,
Bush II holds all the cards and they're not above resorting to violence.

J( *}

Here's where I jump in:

On Sat, 26 Jul 2003 12:53:25 -0500 "elizabeth cook"
> writes:
>You actually seem to know little about Kucinich. If you did, you would
>know that he has "balls the size of Texas", as one supporter put it. He
>is extremely tough, fighting battle after battle against Bush, et al in
>the House of Representatives. You say he is on the "fringe", yet he
>co-chairs the progressive caucus in the H. of R. I'm not sure why you
>think Dean is tougher. You haven't explained yourself on that one. If you
>ever saw Kucinich on TV, he is as tough as nails in a debate, while Dean
>really floundered on Meet the Press. I'll say this for Kucinich, he has
>the courage of his convictions, while Dean is an obvious political
>opportunist, who is willing to sway with public opinion on many issues.
>He steers clear of controversial issues by claiming "states rights".
>Apparently, you and many others, don't have the courage of your
>convictions to stand up and support someone you really agree with. It is
>curious to me. When I first "discovered" Kucinich, I was sure he would
>catch on. Instead, all I have heard is he "can't be elected". It seems
>the same people who say he can't be elected, are the ones who agree with
>his ideas. If these same people actually supported the one they agree
>with, the rest could be history.

Jeremy responds:

> We have different ideas of what it means to be tough in the
>political arena. Being in-your-face ideological and confrontational is
>the obvious way to be tough, like Bush. Bill Clinton was a really tough
>politician, a diplomatic, persistent one who could stand up to the most
>scathing criticism and even an impeachment and survive and succeed and
>never even lose his good humor.
> Sooner or later, Bush is going down because he's brittle inside.
>To me, Kucinich thinks well, he's very smart, but he doesn't know
>craftiness or diplomacy. He asks tough questions but he doesn't know how
>to get them answered -- those questions posed to Dick Cheney are good
>questions, but Cheney will blow them off and there's nothing Kucinich can
>do about it. A really tough politician would ask those questions in a
>forum where he couldn't be ignored. If this was poker, Kucinich shows
>his hand too quickly, before he's suckered the opposition into building
>up the pot. He has no charm except to those who agree with him and want
>him to win. You need charm to persuade the opposition to back you.
> You can also use fear, like Bush II does. They do it through
>sheer terrifying ruthlessness and that's where their real toughness lies.
> We need a candidate who is tough in a loving, charming, intelligent and
>deceptively diplomatic way. He needs to sucker these brutes, flatter
>their egos and pull the rug out from under them when they relax.
> I don't know if Dean or Kerry is all that's necessary. I think
>they might be. I feel sure that Kucinich isn't, even though I like him
>because we agree. I think a smart politician doesn't let all his
>personal convictions be known too easily -- his enemies can use that
>knowledge against him. Kucinich has already been buried by the pundits
>because they know exactly where he stands on every issue and that means
>his opposition will not be surprised and already knows how to counter
><< It seems the same people who say he can't be elected, are the ones who
>agree with his ideas. If these same people actually supported the one
>they agree with, the rest could be history. >>
> I disagree. People like you who completely agree with Kucinich
>do support him. I don't agree with him entirely because I disagree with
>his lack of subtlety and diplomacy. The people who say he can't be
>elected are the pundits whose job it is to handicap races, and they see
>his political weaknesses. His honesty makes him vulnerable. You dismiss
>the pundits because you want them to be wrong; I don't, because I
>consider them knowledgeable.
> I hope you'll continue to support Kucinich with enthusiasm. The
>more people support him, the more the main candidates will be pulled to
>the left rhetorically to try to co-opt his supporters.
> Something that makes Bush uncommonly dangerous, though, is that
>he lies continuously and without conscience. Fortunately, he's not too
>smart -- he doesn't know what to say to co-opt his opponent's supporters.
> He does have advisers, though. His advisers will be coming up with all
>sorts of sneaky tricks before election day. And then there's the tricks
>of the military/industrial complex for us to contend with, up to and
>probably including massive vote fraud next year.
> We're going to need a very strong Democratic candidate with a
>very broad appeal who can deliver a decisive victory that can't be
>stolen. That's got to be someone who at least seems much more mainstream
>and centrist than Dennis Kucinich.
>J( *}

And then I say:


"His honesty makes him vulnerable". Honest usually does. If what you are arguing is that Dean is withholding important information about himself, in order to surprise his opponents later, I'm scratching my head on that one.
I know of a Taoist saying that goes something like this: the beginning holds the seeds to the end. If Dean is ambiguous and equivocal now, he will be then, whenever 'then' is. If Kucinich is blunt and honest now, he will be then. I mean really, are you advocating dishonesty?

I think Dean is making clear is that he is willing to compromise his principals in order to be elected. He is willing to put up with guns everywhere in order to please the NRA. He is willing to put up with a bloated military budget. He is willing to put up with the death penalty. He is willing to put up with the banning of marajuana for medicinal purposes. If Dean isn't choosing to be honest now about his true belliefs, what makes you think he will be honest later?

Personally, I believe it is time for someone who is in your face, confrontational and honest with what he truly believes. I am a little surprised at you defending the classic, political huckster, the charming, snake-like dealer. Clinton was full of charm, and managed to hand over his presidency to his enemies. Yes, he survived impeachment; but his political enemies in the process managed to steal the limelight from the real issues facing this country.

I appreciate Clinton's efforts to whittle down the deficit. He did a good job with that. Honestly, though, the recession seemed unavoidable due to incredible corporate corruption and greed and hyper inflated stock, and lies told the public about the true worth of their stock, all happening in the Clinton administration.

I'm not blaming Clinton, but a pattern was continued that has been going on since practically the birth of this country, that laws are passed to favor the rich and those who want to get richer, and wars are fought to benefit the rich, to put it simply, while the poor are ignored, used and oppressed, and the middle class suckored.

By the way, I wasn't able to read your essay on the Civil War, though I did read your summation of it in one of your emails, I believe, to one of your brothers. I would like to have that essay again, if you don't mind.Your ideas on the Civil War as not necessarily needing to be fought, are thought provoking and insightful. Very Howard Zinnian, as well. I believe we have to take the courage to re-envision and reinterpret our past, in order to better understand present day events.

Howard Zinn, in his book Declarations of Independence, even takes on our justifications for entering WW2. It is interesting reading.

When I read about your essay on the Civil War and Lincoln, when I read Howard Zinn, I get a very similar feeling when I study the positions of Kucinich. He is willing to confront popular notions and beliefs with a candor and bluntness that is incredibly refreshing. He is electrifying and not afraid to turn popularly held notions upside down, such as our commitment to NAFTA and the WTO.

It is also about siphoning through the complexity and the layers of things, to try to find their roots. I believe Kucinich tries hard to do this. Remember the Frontline special that we saw together, that began with a clip of Paula Poundstone entertaining some sort of convention where Clinton as president was attending, along with many CEOs from major, international corporations. She asked, "Who decides who sits next to the president?" I remember the Chiquita Banana ceo was on one side of Clinton. Can't remember who was on the other.

She made a brilliant point, and until the underlying strength of that point is examined openly, we will never take back our democracy from the rich. Dean worries me precisely because he seems so enamored of power, he is willing, like many before him, to compromise parts of himself in order to seem more palatable to the general public. Unfortunately, what winds up happening, the person doing the compromising begins to lose sight of who they really are. I believe that was also one of the underlying issues with the Gore run for the presidency. He was a man of many contradictions, with a wealthy background, and apparently to me, contradictory beliefs.

I am not per se, targeting wealth as "the problem", but I am targeting the laws that allow for the unfair accumulation of wealth, and the shifting of the the tax burden to the middle and working class, to the benefit of the upper tier.

With Kucinich, I have the distinct feeling that what you see is what you get. He wears his heart on his sleave, he's a tireless worker, and his heart is in the right place. He's not afraid of losing, obviously, because otherwise he wouldn't be so upfront about his beliefs. With Dean, there seems to be a real calculation to avoid losing. Consequently, he may wind up losing a part of himself in the process. I see this as a general tendency among most politicians, by the way, not just Dean.

But our politicians reflect fundamental truths about ourselves. Is it that Kucinich is unelectable, or is it that we are unwilling to confront the difficult issues with much needed candor and hard work? Makes life more complex to do that.

Regarding certain points of your argument, what forum would you suggest for Kucinich's letter to Cheney? Tompaine.commonsense seems like a pretty good one given that the media is not likely to print such a letter. Kucinich has been speaking out tirelessly on the issue of faulty intelligence, by the way, whenever possible, in speeches to the general public and before Congress.

Yes, Bush is idealogical and confrontational, and also a pathological liar. He can never give specifics as to the nature or reasons for his beliefs, because he has to keep those secret. Kucinich is not shy about sharing specifics. You say Kucinich doesn't know craftiness or diplomacy, though the two traits seem mutually exclusive. He is a member of the House of Representatives with an excellent reputation. I haven't followed all of the battles and legislation that he is responsible for; I did though, see a very conservative House member defend Kucinich on TV, on one of his stances.

I really confused on this: "We need a candidate who is tough in a loving, charming, intelligent and deceptively diplomatic way. He needs to sucker these brutes, flatter their egos and pull the rug out from under them when they relax."

Why do we need to charm them? What we need to do is expose them, their lies and corruption. Daschle and Gephardt and Kerry and all the rest tried to play the game their way, and we wound embroiled in a war that is a humanitarian disaster.

Please don't forget to send me your civil war essay. As always, I enjoy the exchange,