Today, we are off to see, no, not the wizard. We are off to the (apologies to the NCAA) Final Four. So take a moment and review the other diaries in this series. Then follow me...
The Final Four are Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. We'll spend a little time looking at each one of them. First though, let's take a quick look at the criteria I have established for this review:
There are two top level criteria I am going to use to evaluate the candidates. The first is their ability to win the nomination. The second is their ability to win the general election.
In my attempts to evaluate candidates chances to win the nomination, I am going to look at these factors:
- Values projected in the Message
- Stance on issues
- Fundraising ability
- Staff competence
- Primary strategy
- Does this candidate make me feel it?
Having said all that , let's look at reality here. None of these four guys has a snowball's chance in hell of actually winning the nomination. None of them is above single digits in any polls. None of them have come anywhere near the top three in fund raising. That should be the end of this diary right here. But I did do some research, so what the heck.
Let's start with Joe Biden. Joe is the Senior Senator from Delaware. He has been in the Senate since damn near as long as I can remember. He has the distinction of actually being elected to the Senate before he had attained the legal age to serve, 35.
Joe is not usually known for his reticence. In fact, he brought the house down with his one word answer of "yes" in the South Carolina debate. Trying to find values expressed in Joe Biden's verbosity was no easy task, but I did find this gem in a speech Biden gave on National Security and Civil Rights:
We need not change our national character in order to defeat terrorism. As a matter of fact, we are already defeated by the terrorists if we change our character.Other than that though, Biden suffers from what has been called the "Issue Trap". As a long time Senator, Biden is adept at debating policy, particularly Foreign Policy. But to find values embedded in those policy choices is no easy task.
Chris Dodd, the Senior and only Democratic Senator from Connecticut also suffers from the Issue Trap. Dodd has been in Congress since he was but two years out of law school. I was able to find something that gives us a hint about Dodd's values though. Dodd has this prominently displayed on his web site: Restore Habeus Corpus and is the author of Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007.
The bill will restore Habeas Corpus protections to detainees, bar information acquired through torture from being introduced as evidence in trials, and limit presidential authority to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions.
Mike Gravel represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate from 1969-81. I had to look it up. Other than making a name for himself as the crusty old bomb thrower in the debates, there is not a lot to say about Gravel. And it was very difficult to find values statements on his web site.
Dennis Kucinich is another kettle of fish altogether. When he was the boy wonder Mayor of Cleveland, he was dubbed "Dennis the Menace." He hasn't changed much since. But in his description of his plan for a Department of Peace I did uncover this:
The United States was founded on hope, optimism, and a commitment to freedom. We can once again become a beacon of hope for the world. To do that, we must reject the current administration's policies of fear, suspicion, and preemptive war. It is time to jettison our illusions and fears and to transform age-old challenges with new thinking. This is the idea behind my proposal to establish a Department of Peace. This is the idea to make nonviolence an organizing principle at home and abroad and dedicate ourselves to peaceful coexistence, consensus building, disarmament, and respect for international treaties. Violence and war are not inevitable. Nonviolence and peace are inevitable.Not bad for Dennis the Menace, huh?
As for issues, as always I start with Iraq. Joe Biden has been one of the first Democrats to come up with a plan for Iraq. His "federalization plan" has some merit. However, to make it work, a successful settlement of the Iraq oil distribution issue would have to be reached. Biden did not do himself any favors in this area when he voted for the Iraq supplemental without a time table for withdrawal.
Chris Dodd was alone among the senatorial presidential candidates to cast his no vote on the Iraq supplemental while the issue was still in doubt. Clinton and Obama both slunk onto the Senate floor and voted no after the votes for passage were assured.
Mike Gravel is for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. You can probably figure out where "Department of Peace" Kucinich stands. BTW, Kucinich voted against the original AUMF.
None of these guys make me feel it enough to sign on to a Don Quixote campaign. Enough said.