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More democratic candidate ponderings
Bar Harbor
So, I've been spending a lot of time today trying to get up to speed on the various democratic candidates' actual positions. This was non-trivial, since most newspapers and blogs seem to be talking exclusively about performance, polls, electability, and the like. I did find a few useful "compare the candidates" sites, however:

I'm mostly posting this in order to share the links, but thought I might as well write the opinions I've now reached, as well:

Dennis Kucinich is a near perfect match for me on the issues -- but appears to not be in serious contention at this time. Sigh.

Of those who actually look like they have a chance, Dean is looking best for me. My one big problem with him is that he is in favor of the War on Drugs. Sadly, so are all the rest of the front runners.

Kerry is next best. I'm not thrilled about his approach to Health Care issues. Voted in favor of going into Iraq, though he's against it now.

Clark and Edwards - I'm kind of iffy on. Clearly better than Bush, but they each have lots of positions I'm concerned about. Some I'm actually opposed to, some I'm just dubious that they can work.

Lieberman I have *big* problems with, as detailed earlier.

Sharpton seems like an OK match on the issues, but I just can't take him seriously. And I'm seriously dubious about any candidate with a "Rev." in front of his name, even if he claims to be in favor of many of the same things I am.

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Odd. Most of the people I know, and myself, seem to agree with Kucinich the most, so why is he not a serious contender?

...because the people you know are weird, twisted freaks.

That's the best kind of person.

The league of Women Voters website should talk about issues. Check there.

John is a Kerry supporter; he pointed out that Kerry's support of the war was if the United Nations agreed it was a good idea.

That the War on Drugs isn't a good thing -- that's one of those things that You Can't Say -- re: your post of the article about free speech two weeks ago.

The league of Women Voters website should talk about issues.

Also, MoveOn had a written forum last year for all the Democratic candidates to give their positions. (Note that this predated Clark, and Lieberman didn't reply.) Irregular Times has some analysis of it. There's also Project Vote Smart.

That the War on Drugs isn't a good thing -- that's one of those things that You Can't Say

Well, yeah. The WoD is a tool for keeping the populace in line; if we were allowed to criticize it, what would be the point? The semi-good news is that the War on Drugs might conceivably fade as it's supplanted by the War on Terrorism, which is a much more effective means to the same end.

Well, I can say that the War on Drugs isn't a good thing (and have been saying so for 20 years now). Unfortunately, so few politicians have been willing to take a principled stand on this that it's honestly unclear whether or not one could get away with it.

It would probably require someone with the moral high ground (a very clean background) in order to do so first and survive the experience, admittedly. But I'd really love to know how the populace would react to a politician who was sensible and pragmatic about the drug issue...

Sorry -- incomplete writing on my part.

If you're a Politician, you can't say the WoD is a bad thing. Although that may be changing, since apparently Georgie said he'd used cocaine and it didn't stop him from stealing the election.

A lot of people will do anything if it's "for our children" and the WoD is one of those. Likewise money for drug-testing schoolchildren that Our Fearless Leader has proposed. Argh.

I want to like Dean, but I keep getting the feeling that he's claiming to be to the left merely to pick up votes. If he really were, I'd be all for it, but as it is he seems kind of empty...

I'm not so sure. He did sign Vermont's civil unions law, for example. And I heard him claiming this morning that he (or, at least, Vermont, while he was governor) had provided prescription benefits, and universal health coverage for children. That's not exactly storming the Bastille, but it's something.

I find myself supporting Edwards. This is largely because he is a charming centrist, which I think will give the best shot at winning this fall. I think that what any of them say now is only marginally relevant to what they will actually do in the office. A centrist has a better chance of getting elected. An ideologue will have to jet his agenda to get even the most basic things done with a Republican congress and senate.

Personally, I think Kerry has a better chance of winning in the fall. Among other things, his war medals mean that George III can't paint him as a coward. (Remember the picture of Dukakis in the tank?) While Kerry was a hero under fire in Vietnam, Dubya was AWOL under a table in Texas.

I'm not enormously thrilled with all of Kerry's record; I would be happier if he had actually voted against the use of force. I can live with that, though. As I recall, the resolution supported the use of force with the support of the UN. At the time, Kerry made a speech warning that invading without that support would be a Bad Idea.

But Kerry would be good enough, which means it comes down to who can beat George III. Dean has raised more money, and brought a lot of new people into the political process; but now we're seeing that, apparently, Dean can't get the support of anybody except those new people. He wants to reach out to a broad base, which is good, but he apparently hasn't figured out how.

Kucinich has interesting positions; in some years, I might support him. But he can't win the election; the segment of the population that likes his positions is too small.

Edwards has almost no record in politics (one Senate term), which he tries to paint as an advantage; but I'm afraid it would mean that he'd become a puppet President, like Reagan or George III, relying on an experienced staff to do all the thinking.

Lieberman is a Republican in disguise. Clark is a Republican in Groucho glasses--a disguise anybody can see through. He's also a liar; he claims that he always opposed the war, but it's not true. He supported the war, in public, in writing, at least from October 2002 through April 2003. (Source: Irregular Times.)

And Sharpton is not an option, because he's a minister. He's also too quick to play the race card. Remember when he attacked Dean in a debate for having no blacks in his cabinet in Vermont? Well, there were only 6 people in the cabinet, and Vermont is only 0.7% black, and nearly 98% white. (Source: the 2000 census.) In Vermont, an all-white candidate doesn't necessarily reflect prejudice; even if you just picked names out of a hat, you'd have an 88% chance of getting only whites.

I largely concur with your analysis -- I've been broadly in favor of Kerry from the beginning, precisely because he's the kind of middle of the road insider who could both beat Bush and run the government competently afterwards. He's not exciting, but I'm honestly more in favor of someone relatively unexciting, who will slowly but surely undo the mess that Bush has caused.

My worry about Edwards isn't so much him winding up another puppet; rather, I'm concerned about him having so few connections in the Beltway as to be unable to get things done. Politicians love to trumpet the "outsider" card, but the reality is that the only way to get things done in Washington is to be an insider. And I'd rather have someone who already has connections that he understands -- a novice is likely to get himself in much more trouble, both by alienating people and by trusting the wrong ones.

Clark is a Republican in Groucho glasses--a disguise anybody can see through.

Unless they live in Oklahoma, apparently...

More candidates thoughts...

Two comments...

1) The Boston Globe did print a really large insert into the Sunday Globe on January 25. It included profiles/bios of all of the candidates, a summary of the eight major issues, and explanations of where each of the candidates stand on them. Most of the text of the insert can be found at The Primary Source.

2) As for the concern about electability and your close match with Kucinich... One thing that should be almost as important as a candidates positions is whether or not you believe that they could actually accomplish them. Kucinich's positions put him so far out of the mainstream of politics that even if he got elected, he'd never be able to push his agenda through congress. Checks and balances after all.

I just finished reading
The Buying of the President 2004, by
the Center for Public Integrity. It lays out the history of each candidate in the race, with special emphasis to who their major donors are. I've put up a summary of what I learned.

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