by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
December 30, 2007
AMERICAN REPORTER ENDORSEMENTS: EDWARDS AND McCAIN
BRADENTON, Fla., Dec. 30, 2007 -- One of the great tragedies of the American experience is its two-party system, which was neither contemplated nor preferred by our Founding Fathers, and which President George Washington urged Americans in his Farewell Address to avoid at all costs.
And one reason the two-party system is a tragedy is because rather than enabling the most able of Americans to lead the country, it relies on the two parties to select one each, and then trusts the American people to choose the most able from that very narrowed field. An alternative system, for instance, might elect a President and Vice-President, and then seat the other substantial candidates in Cabinet posts regardless of their party. But that is not the system we have now.
We feel that error most painfully in late 2007, not only because the challenges to our national welfare are at a historic intensity and we need all the ability and talent and intelligence we see on the campaign trail at our side, but because so many especially able men will be pushed aside in this process, and very possibly the least - and certainly not the most - able among them may advance to the presidency.
On C-SPAN's Washington Talk this afternoon (Sat., Dec. 29, 2007), I was given the opportunity to make a few points to its audience. First, I said, there are just three truly honest men in this race, speaking as someone who has met almost all of them. Those, I said, were Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. Ron Paul, and Sen. John McCain. I didn't mean to indict the integrity of the rest, but to me, these three are the only ones whose word can absolutely be trusted and whose speeches convey exactly what they truly think about the issues that face us all.
The second point I made was that I feel a great resentment (and I should have said I also feel a great disappointment) that once again, Floridians will cast meaningless votes that will not be counted in the Democratic Primary Jan. 29 toward delegates to the Democratic National Convention (Republicans will be able to get only half of their chosen delegates seated).
How any good American can countenance this latest denial of our voting rights astonishes me, and it sadly informs me that as a nation we may not sink or swim together, but one by one, as each struggles to defeat the deterioration of our national life and each, being lost incrementally, goes unnoticed when they're gone.
The third point I made was that of all the candidates, former Sen. John Edwards is the only one who might have a significant impact on the culture of corporate control and corporate corruption that has blind-sided the American people over the long, lost decade of the Bush Administration.
We endorse John Edwards as our choice among Democratic candidates in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary election.
Yet if there is a need greater than to control the corporations whose corporate persons have raped and pillaged Americans with abandon, it is for integrity that will resist the extremely powerful forces that jockey for power in America and speak from the authenticity and experience of his or her Americanism. Only one had the courage to resist the blandishments - and when they failed, the condemnation - of his party on issues that demanded a moderate course, such as immigration and campaign reform.
On that score, our choice in the same elections among Republican candidates is Sen. John McCain.
We deeply regret that other candidates, in particular Reps. Kucinich and Paul and Sen. Barack Obama, cannot also "win" in some sense in these key contests. They each bring essential gifts to the democratic process: For Kucinich, it is the passion of his convictions, and his profound caring for the ordinary, middle-class American and for the poor; in Paul, it is the clarity and integrity of his views, which sweep away accumulated mountains of empty rhetoric and speaks plain truths well-understood by the millions of Americans who support him.
In the second tier, we remain a strong admirer of Sen. Joe Biden's immensely valuable experience in the area of foreign relations, where he has toiled as a senator for almost three decades. We deeply wish Sen. Chris Dodd had caught on, because his message about the power of credit card companies to bankrupt Americans by excessive interest rates, overlimit and late payment fees has fallen by the wayside. We like Gov. Bill Richardson for his great independence and the personal courage that took him to dangerous places on behalf of American victims of terrorism.
On the Republican side, we don't listen to Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee talk about his caring as a pastor with either derision or contempt. It is heartfelt, we believe, and that kind of caring should infuse the next occupant of the White House. We only wish, as a Southern Baptist, that Gov. Huckabee would let us know if he would dance at the Inaugural Ball, as Southern Baptists are forbidden to do, or raise a toast of fine wine or brandy to heads of state gathered for a White Houser to dinner, an act also forbidden by the Southern Baptist code. Does he ever utter a "cussword" in private, or is his speech constantly pristine, as Southern Baptists demand? Far more than with former Gov. Romney, whose polished appearance is probably his greatest drawback, we are concerned by his religious beliefs and the structures and strictures that have sustained that faith over the centuries.
Former Mayor Giuliani also has much to recommend him to all of us, and in particular, his strongly results-oriented approach toward policing and his past fearless prosecution of the Italian mob that controlled construction, garbage and many other industries in New York City. His triumph over them was a key step forward not only for New York City, but for every American city that hopes to free itself of syndicate-based corruption. Even more appealing is common-sense approach to issues like abortion and gay unions, an approach which is intellectually sound and rhetorically inert - meaning it relies on reality, not speeches, to succeed. We appreciate his personal bravery, his strong sense of command, and his utter self-confidence.
Unfortunately, Giuliani is undone by his misguided loyalty to a President whose narrow ideological base is the underpinning of the GOP primary process. The courage to abandon his kind words about the President, and to reflect the wide unhappiness of the American people with Mr. Bush, is where his personal integrity hits its limits, and we need more. We know that, and he knows that.
Why not Sen. Obama? As the only black candidate so far in American history with any chance at all of winning the nomination, he nonetheless remains unremarkable for anything but his African-American heritage and his youth. if he has plans that would offer substantial change to the American people, we have not heard them - instead, we hear the promise of change. He is certainly as capable as any person in the race of handling the job, but he has failed to display the skills that got him elected editor of the Harvard Law Review, a post almost as challenging as the presidency itself, if in a vastly more circumscribed way. We believe in his great abilities, but we would rather have seen them exercised in this election rather than just praised.
Finally, there is Sen. Hillary Clinton. She is widely popular among American women and my yet capture the nomination. But we have learned not to trust her, and we don't like her, quite frankly. Our problem with her is that she cannot look at a question or an issue from two points of view - only hers alone is important. She is profoundly uncomfortable with criticism at a personal level, we believe, and while she fields it well in public, she doesn't ever demonstrate the personal insight into her own character that a President must have to make a difference. We believe the unexamined life is not worth bringing to the White House.
It's not, as we told her communications director Howard Wolfson at theTDemocratic presidential debate in Orangeburg, South Carolina, that she will not talk to smaller news and commentary publications like our own, but that her staff is constantly unavailable to us. Now she has taken the step of avoiding all questions from voters in the last few days of her Iowa campaign. We think that approach is going to leave her with a lot of questions afterward, such as, How could I have lost this?
The American Reporter has contributed money to each of the eight Democratic candidates, and to Rep. Paul and Sen. McCain. Obviously, we feel strongly that Americans deserve the best possible contest, not merely the best candidate. The courage and ability to organize a presidential run and put themselves before the American people for better or worse is a glowing commitment to our democracy, and we hail each of them for their hard run and their personal sacrifice.
May the American people win.