My handy, all-purpose endorsement of everybody (almost)

    Yes, dear readers, you’ve read this one before — probably. I cannibalized a blog post to construct this column — almost word for word. You’ll probably see me doing that more than once before the holidays are over. That’s partly because I’ll be doing double- and triple-duty with folks out of the office. But it’s also in keeping with what I intended when I started this blog; I had always meant to use it as a lab for developing column ideas. I just usually forget to do that.

SINCE MY COLUMN advocating a “single-payer” national health plan ran in this space last week, I’ve received a good bit of feedback along these lines:

Dear Mr. Warthen,
    I think your article is right on target and has a very good insight of the realities of the inefficient American health system. However, it is my feeling that by mentioning that [Dennis] Kucinich is the only one talking about single payer, and in the same line that he is not viable and has seen a UFO you are delegitimizing him…. If you think that this country needs a health care reform, why not throw your support to Kucinich…?

Regards, Kethrin Johnson

    Then, my regular blog correspondent Doug Ross wrote:

    Again, I’ll ask you to put your proverbial money where your mouth is. If you think this is an important issue, don’t endorse candidates who don’t support single payer….

    I get this sort of thing a lot, and I think it’s worth pausing to address. Doug was literally right — I think a national health plan is “an important issue.” It’s not the important issue. If there were anything that I would designate as the important issue in a presidential race, it probably wouldn’t be a domestic one. And I’d rather not judge on the basis of any single issue in foreign affairs either, if I can avoid it. (We found ourselves unable to avoid it in 2004, which made for a most distasteful endorsement.)
    Health care is very important; so are other things. If I chose on the basis of one issue only, I would have to endorse everybody at least once. Just off the top of my head, it might go like this:

Health careDennis Kucinich in a walk.
Iraq (as a military operation)John McCain, the only guy who stood up for the “surge,” which was based on the idea that he alone had been pushing for four years, which was that Donald Rumsfeld refused to send enough troops to get the job done.
Iraq (long-term strategy)Joe Biden, who (along with erstwhile candidate Sam Brownback), has been pushing the federalist approach of transforming the nation into three semi-autonomous political regions with only a loose Baghdad government uniting them.
Immigration — Either Sen. McCain, who took all the heat on the recent failed comprehensive reform effort, or Hillary Clinton, who refused to demagogue on the driver’s license flap.
AfghanistanBarack Obama, who had the nerve to say he’d go after the Taliban in Pakistan if necessary.
Pakistan — Sen. Biden, for articulating the fact that we needed a Pakistan strategy, not a Pervez Musharraf strategy.
Administrative abilityMike Huckabee, Mitt Romney or Bill Richardson, the only governors.
Most likely to be the UnParty nominee — Tough call, but I see three most able to lead us out of the vicious partisanship of the past 15 years: Mr. Huckabee, who seems to have governed Arkansas pretty effectively with a Democratic majority in the legislature; Sen. Obama, who has made his desire to be the president of all Americans a centerpiece of his campaign; or Sen. McCain, who, from confirming judges to campaign finance reform to immigration to fighting the use of torture, has demonstrated his willingness and ability to work with Democrats time and again. (See my blog for my UnParty Manifesto.)
Abortion — Either Mr. Huckabee or Sen. McCain. The Democrats walk in the door disqualifying themselves on this one (from my point of view; maybe someday a Democrat like Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania will have a shot), and none of the other leading Republicans can be trusted fully in this area.
Most likely to be the Energy Party nominee — Nobody. Sen. McCain has done some good stuff in the Senate (along with Joe Lieberman, who was my pick for the Democratic nomination four years ago), and I like some of the things Sen. Biden has said about a president’s role in leading on this critical strategic issue. But I don’t think anybody goes far enough. (You can also read about the “Energy Party” on the blog.)
EducationRon Paul almost gets it by wanting to do away with the U.S. Department of Education; the federal government has no business trying to run our local schools. But then he blows it by wanting to give tax credits to pay people to attend private schools, which is none of the government’s business at any level.

    You get the idea. You may notice that I have no scenarios in which I endorse John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Dodd or Fred Thompson. That’s not to dismiss them completely. I suppose if I dug further into all their positions I’d find some single-issue excuse to endorse each.
    But that’s not how we endorse, and that’s not how voters vote (I hope). Since
we can only choose one candidate, practical reality demands that we accept some compromises. The candidate you end up favoring might get just “Bs” and “Cs” on your unique grading scale in most subjects, while someone you reject might be at the top of the class on one issue, but flunk everything else.
    On my own scale, for instance, Mr. Giuliani gets mostly Bs and Cs, with a couple of poor grades on personal deportment. He may not lead the class in anything that comes immediately to mind, but that doesn’t count him out entirely.
    One good thing about primaries is that they force people who might otherwise surrender their thinking to a party to understand that even within a party, there can be great diversity of thought. Such choices compel us to acknowledge the necessity to compromise on some things, unless we’re fooling ourselves. For any thinking voter to find a candidate with whom he agrees on everything would a minor miracle.
    Anyway, back to where we started: Rep. Kucinich gets an A-plus and a gold star on health care in my gradebook. But he flunks national security, which is a required subject.

12 thoughts on “My handy, all-purpose endorsement of everybody (almost)

  1. Paul Klavins

    How is Ron Paul not on your abortion list? He has tried to make constitutional amendments to define life at conception, was an OB/GYN for 30 years, and he delivered a few thousand babies. He has also made it an important issue to undo Roe vs. Wade and to leave it to the individual states to decide. If you don’t know this about Ron Paul then you haven’t been doing very good research.

  2. Ryan

    Have you looked at Kucinich’s energy plan? He is by far the most aggressive in pushing for a “green” energy policy.

  3. bgodley

    I see by your choices that you are a war supporter. I would like you in your next piece to list out your reasons for supporting the Iraq war. Are you willing to discuss the negative reprecussions of what is happening? Are there any in your mind, i.e. cost, blowback, terrorist recruiting pools, military casualties, civilian deaths? I guess we will see how fixed your views are. That will give your readers a better chance to understand your blogging.

  4. Richard L. Wolfe

    While I admire your attempt to give a comprehensive overview of the candidates and the issues only one in every three or four voters will heed your wisdom. The election is a popularity contest. McCain, Obama, Guliani and Paul will attract the independent voters and the Democrats will put up Hillary. Paul and Obama will fade. This will leave either McCain or Guliani to run against Hillary. The true conservatives will not come out to support McCain. Thus by process of elimination in a NATIONAL election the best hope to stop Hillary is Guliani.

  5. Michael Rodgers

    Forming three semi-autonomous regions (based on religion or sectarianism) was rejected by the Baker-Hamilton Commission, and, more importantly, the Iraqis don’t want it.
    Encouraging Iraq to have a federalist government with 18 governorates (i.e provinces or states) seems far more realistic and appropriate than whatever Joe Biden is championing.
    Michael Rodgers
    Columbia, SC

  6. mark glfr

    Don’t forget the environment. Who would be the best president for global warming and saving our earth and the oceans? On the Republican side, Sen. McCain has been out in front on this issue. On the Democratic side, Sen. Obama has been a good advocate, and Gov. Richardson has taken a stand for the environment in New Mexico.

  7. mark glfr

    And speaking of endorsements, a pretty big day for Sen. McCain– The Boston Globe, Portsmouth NH Herald, Des Moines Register, New Hampshire Union Leader all endorse McCain.
    Can The State be far behind?

  8. Brad Warthen

    Going back to the first comment above — yes, I had run across Ron Paul’s abortion position, and I don’t know why I forgot it, because it was so startling.

    How does a libertarian — who is lauded by his supporters for his consistency — come to oppose abortion?

    And bgodley — you come late to the conversation. The war has been hashed and rehashed here at great length. We used to discuss it here quite often, and it was usually brought up by those who oppose our involvement in Iraq. Since the surge reached it’s peak over the summer, the topic has waned. That, of course, does not diminish its importance at all. But it probably explains the rising fortunes of some, such as Mike Huckabee, who are not identified with strong national security skills.

  9. Doug Ross

    Paul is consistent in his own personal views, not those of the Libertarian party. That’s the difference between him and partisans.
    Watch the first two minutes of this video and you’ll understand his no nonsense, non-nuanced opinion on abortion.

    With the record $6 million Paul picked up just yesterday, he’s going to be able to get his message out.

  10. Brad Warthen

    I didn’t say anything about the Libertarian Party. I pretty much never talk about the Libertarian Party, unless answering a direct question. I said he was considered to be a consistent libertarian, a point on which I thought I was in agreement with his supporters. As we know, most libertarians in this country are either Republicans, Democrats or independents, and Dr. Paul is more so than most.


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