Category Archives: Mike Gravel

Which candidate do YOU hate the most?

Ahillary             "NEVER? Whaddaya mean, ‘never?’"

Seems like I’ll stoop to anything to get you to click on a blog post, doesn’t it? Sorry about the headline. Tacky. I would never encourage you to hate anyone.

But my point was to share with you the results of this Zogby poll, which found that half the electorate says it would never vote for Hillary Clinton. She has the highest negatives, and Mike Huckabee and Bill Richardson have the lowest, going by that standard. (You may have already read about this, as it came out Saturday, but I’m just now getting around to checking the e-mail account the release came to). An excerpt from the report:

    While she is winning wide support in nationwide samples among Democrats in the race for their party’s presidential nomination, half of likely voters nationwide said they would never vote for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.
    The online survey of 9,718 likely voters nationwide showed that 50% said Clinton would never get their presidential vote. This is up from 46% who said they could never vote for Clinton in a Zogby International telephone survey conducted in early March. Older voters are most resistant to Clinton – 59% of those age 65 and older said they would never vote for the New York senator, but she is much more acceptable to younger voters: 42% of those age 18–29 said they would never vote for Clinton for President.
    At the other end of the scale, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrats Bill Richardson and Barack Obama faired best, as they were least objectionable to likely voters. Richardson was forever objectionable as President to 34%, while 35% said they could never vote for Huckabee and 37% said they would never cast a presidential ballot for Obama, the survey showed….

Here’s the full list:

Whom would you NEVER vote for for President of the U.S.?


Clinton (D)


Kucinich (D)


Gravel (D)


Paul (R)


Brownback (R)


Tancredo (R)


McCain (R)


Hunter (R)


Giuliani (R)


Romney (R)


Edwards (D)


Thompson (R)


Dodd (D)


Biden (D)


Obama (D)


Huckabee (R)


Richardson (D)


Not sure


I got to thinking about it just now, and wondered for the first time which, of all the candidates, would I be least likely to choose at this point? Here’s how I would rank them personally:

Mind you, that’s just off the top of my head, based on what I know now, without any of my editorial board colleagues setting me straight on any of the calls. And I’ll admit I cheated on one — I can’t even picture "Hunter," much left summon up any relevant impressions, so I just sort of buried him in the pack toward the "less likely" end, hoping no one would notice.

How about you?

Part of the Democratic base is in for a bitter disappointment

Flash forward to January 2009, and what do you see? Here’s what I see — a profoundly disaffected portion of the Democratic base.

They’ll either be furious because the GOP will have won the White House for another four years, or furious because a Democrat won, and yet we still have troops in Iraq.

Now mind you, I’m basing this on my assumption that neither Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul nor Mike Gravel is president. Indulge me in this for a moment, if you will.

If you look at comments by responsible, grownup-type Democratic elected officials in response to the Petraeus testimony, you get respectful quibbling over matters of degree — maybe we should draw down a little more quickly, or some such.

It’s only among the unelected professional whack jobs out there whipping up the grass roots that you hear Let’s pull every last American in uniform out of Iraq yesterday!

This is a disconnect that could have serious repercussions, not only for the Democratic party, but for the country.

The problem is that Democratic elected officials, who know better, have thought they had to humor the more excitable antiwar folks up to now, and have never felt like they could say, Hold on, folks — what you’re asking for is completely unrealistic. Think what you want about the decision to go into Iraq — and I’m with you that that was a bad call — but now that we’re there we’re stuck with this problem on our hands for some time to come.

The only way to avoid the crash between reality and expectations that I predicted at the top of this post will be if some of the top Democrats start leveling more along those lines. If not, look for a real mess in 2009.

Now we know how debates can be stupider


    "I think this is a ridiculous exercise."
            — Joe Biden


If the frontiersmen who trashed the White House after Andrew Jackson’s inaugural had had YouTube, it would have looked like what we saw out of Charleston Monday night.

No, I take that back. The yahoos who had to be lured back out of the mansion with ice cream in 1829 were not this insipid. They were real; they were who they were, and I shouldn’t malign them by comparing them to the "Ain’t I cute" questioners on the "YouTube debate."

Gail Collins has it exactly right on today’s op-ed page, as I’ve said before (sorry; can’t show it to you — you know how the NYT is. You can’t have a serious debate with five or six or — come on, eight? — candidates on the stage. But there are worse things than the debates we had seen up to now — people who would occupy the most important job in the world being subjected to "Reality TV," and having to be deeply respectful of this abuse. (Certainly I think it’s a very important question," said Chris Dodd to the first one. It wasn’t.)

Joe Biden was only answering one of the questions that came out of this process in the quote above, but it easily applied to the evening — or most of it. Some of the questions were questions that should have been asked. But they would have been better asked by people who did not see themselves and the message. And they say politicians are narcissistic.

I like YouTube. I love YouTube. It can be fun. It can be useful. But unless it is applied much better than it was in this case, it cannot bring intelligence or coherence to a format that is far too fragmented and distracting already — the free-for-all debate among anyone and everyone who says he or she wants the nomination.

If you wish to learn what was said — and I certainly don’t blame you if you didn’t watch it — without the distractions of the posturing, mugging, simpering and snideness of the the questioners hitting you full in the face — here’s a transcript. But it doesn’t help much.

Did I get anything out of this debate? Yes. I saw once again that behind all the "I want to get out of Iraq faster than Cindy Sheehan does" posturing by this crowd seeking the affections of the angry base, serious people know that it’s not that simple. Obama: "At this point, I think we can be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in." Of course, he went on to promise a quick retreat, but I think he knows better (at this point, I’ll grasp at any straw for hope that someone who might be president might have a clue). Biden: "You know we can’t just pull out now." Of course, he then quickly proposes a pullout, but at least he has a coherent plan. I think it’s an extraordinarily dangerous plan (creating an independent Kurdistan on Turkey’s border?), but it’s a plan.

I could go into other "issues," such as Chris Dodd’s white hair, or Anderson What’s-His-Name’s white hair, or whether John Edwards is better for women than Hillary Clinton (his wife says so, but let’s not go there), or how black Barack Obama is. But I think it’s safe to say that we’ll hear more about such things as the months grind slowly on.

Bottom line: We didn’t learn anything more from this than the middle-school slam-book stuff we had known before: Hillary projects presidential; Obama is smart and charismatic; Biden and Richardson are experienced, Gravel is certifiable, Kucinich is irritating, Edwards is a demagogue, and Dodd is uninteresting.

But hey; I can pander to the masses as much as the next guy: What did you think?


Thoughts on the GOP debate?


What did you get out of it?

My immediate thought on that — not much.

Maybe it’s an expectations game. I had expected little from the Democratic "debate" — events like that get pretty pointless with more than two or three candidates, and there were eight. But I was pleasantly surprised that I was actually able to gain some information. Not a lot, but the expectation had been so low.

But this was more like what I expected with the other one. Maybe it was that 10 is that much worse than 8. Maybe it was that Fox allowed cheering and jeering from the audience, which NBC did not (and I thought that helped a great deal).

But here’s what I think it was: I knew who most of the Democratic candidates were, so I didn’t have to struggle to follow it. The only unknown to me was Gravel, and he was so crazy he was at least entertaining.

With this one, I did not know who was speaking half the time. I am not exaggerating, and I’m not the only one. Rick Quinn said he watched the first half of it at his office, and everybody kept saying "Who’s that … who’s that?" And that was with an audience, as he pointed out, of people who make their living in politics — and Republican politics at that. So I felt better.

Sure, I knew a little bit about Huckabee and Brownback. But their faces are not recognizable to me. Not yet, and I doubt they will be, because I doubt either will be in it for all that long. Same with Tommy Thompson, and he actually is somebody. As for Tancredo, Hunter, Gilmore — who are they kidding? Ron Paul, who showed up at the wrong party’s debate, was the designated nutball, but unfortunately not nearly as amusing as the Democrats’ nutball.

That leaves three men who had any business being there, and I have my doubts about one or two of  them.

As for the other seven — why in the world did Fox not keep their names up on the screen all of the time? It would have helped a great deal.

Veto it

Veto it, Mr. President. Veto it, and then, if you are so inclined, say "Mission Accomplished," for you will have done your duty as commander in chief.

Bushtoday Once you’re done, take a long, hard look in the mirror, to see the guy who lost the support of the American people — support that is essential to eventual success in this war.

Over the past four years, you have only gotten one thing right: You have understood that our troops will have to be in Iraq for the rest of your presidency, and most likely through the administration of the next president — and quite likely longer than that. But through your lack of political and diplomatic leadership, you have gotten more of them killed than had to be.

Sure, much of the world would have been against you anyway — it was in the interests of the French, Germans and Russians to oppose you on this and other things. Ironically, though, the Germans have since then elected a more friendly administration, and the French appear poised to do so. But your policies have alienated even our friends in Britain, and undermined our best friend of all, Tony Blair. If only he could have led this coalition.

Worse, you have lost the faith of Americans — through your long refusal to throw out the bankrupt Rumsfeld approach, for the atmosphere you and A.G. Gonzales created that encouraged the abuses of Abu Ghraib, you have allowed the insurgency to flourish, and made enemies where we might have had friends, or at least neutrals.

You only got one thing right. You knew that we could not desert Iraq once we had toppled Saddam.

But anybody can get one thing right. Even Mike Gravel. He really nailed it when he challenged the other candidates on the stage last week in Orangeburg, asking them if they thought you were kidding about staying in Iraq? If they didn’t believe that, they were fooling themselves and their supporters. If they did believe that, then their cheering Congress on as it sends you this unconscionably cynical spending bill is beyond appalling.

You’ll do your duty, the only way you can do it at this point. And those who sent you that bill, knowing you would veto it, will share a full measure of culpability for this detestable slap at the troops who depend on our material support — though we give them so little of any other kind. Yes, they are the ones who keep sending encouragement to the terrorists, offering timetables to let them know how long they have to hold out, how many more suicide bombers they have to recruit, how many more IEDs to plant, before we get out of their way so they can REALLY rip into each other.

But don’t forget to blame everyone who deserves it. Don’t you dare let yourself off the hook.

Democratic Debate Column


Orangeburg debate just
a start, but a good one

By Brad Warthen
Editorial Page Editor
AS BOB COBLE walked out of a breakfast meeting Friday, the bearlike New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson placed him in a loose, amiable headlock and asked what he would have to do to get him to support his bid for the presidency.
    “You’ll have to squeeze harder than that,” I thought. As the governor knew, the Columbia mayor is a John Edwards man.
    But for those who had not made up their minds, the “debate” in Orangeburg Thursday night was a better-than-expected opportunity to begin the winnowing process.
    Eight candidates in 90 minutes is patently ridiculous. But those who planned and executed it, from South Carolina State University to MSNBC, can take pride in making the most of the situation.
National media, as expected, focus on which of the “two candidates,” Hillary or Obama (like Madonna, they no longer need titles or full names), came out on top. Some stretch themselves and mention ex-Sen. Edwards.
    OK, let’s dispense with that: Sen. Clinton presented no surprises, rock star Obama came across as pretty stiff playing in this orchestra — nothing of his usual, charismatic rolling thunder. Ex-Sen. Edwards did his usual shtick.
    But some of us tuned in to learn something new. I did. And I didn’t care which of the overexposed, anointed titans of fund-raising would be a more ideologically pure party standard-bearer. Those of us who spurn both parties — in other words, those of us who actually decide national elections — were looking for someone we might vote for (if such a person survives the partisan gantlet far enough to give us the chance). We’ll be looking for the same when the Republicans meet at the Koger Center May 15.
    I don’t think any of us got any conclusive answers. But the questions posed were good enough to provide some impressions, however scattered, that at least made the event worth the time invested:

Best new impression: I had heard good things about Gov. Richardson, but not met him before. The debate, plus his call-in to a radio show I was on Friday morning, made me want to find out more. I liked the fact that he was real, honest and unscripted, perhaps the result of being a governor and actually dealing with real problems instead of living in Washington’s 24-hour partisan echo chamber.

Best old impression: Could Sen. Joe Biden contain his gift of gab well enough to play well with others on such a crowded stage without his head exploding? “Yes.” Since I’ve heard him speak in our own board room for two hours almost without pause, this was a pleasant surprise. I’ve always liked the guy, but this is one Irishman who didn’t just kiss the Blarney Stone; he took it home with him.

Commander in chief? I expected the candidates to compete to see who was most against our involvement in Iraq and for the longest time. But if it’s fairly judged, Dennis Kucinich wins that pointless contest hands-down. It’s also a barrier to me, since I consider giving up in Iraq to be anathema. So I looked to see who was leaving themselves any room to present a more credible position in the general election, when it’s no longer necessary to court The winners of that contest: Sen. Biden, followed by Sen. Obama.

Second funniest moment: The look in John Edwards’ eyes when he acknowledged being filthy rich, just before going into his nostalgic boilerplate about having been poor once upon a time. This is a much-rehearsed look for him, intended to look like wide-eyed candor. But it struck me like, You bet I’m rich, and lovin’ it, too. Probably an anomaly in the camera angle.

Making Kucinich sound reasonable: A writer on summed it up better than I can, as follows: “When the candidates were asked who owned a gun, (Ex-Sen. Mike) Gravel was one of those who raised his hand. ‘I was worried that he meant he had one with him at the moment,’ said a senior adviser to a top candidate.” I hadn’t gotten around to including a link to this particular candidate on my blog. After Thursday night, I don’t think I’ll bother.

Common sense: You could tell who really wanted to be president. They raised their hands to say they believed there’s such a thing as a global War on Terror, and didn’t raise their hands to support Dennis the Menace’s move to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. Outside of partisan blogs there’s something we call the real world; everyone except Rep. Kucinich showed that they live in it at least part-time.

The most enduring litmus test: Even after all the times I’ve seen and heard this, the grip of the abortion lobby on the Democratic Party still strikes me as astounding. Is there any greater demonstration of the power of party uber alles than hearing a Roman Catholic such as Sen. Biden emphatically saying, “I strongly support Roe v. Wade,” and asserting complete faith in the existence of a right to privacy in the Constitution?

South Carolina’s shame: Only one thing was mentioned all night that let you know this took place in South Carolina — the Confederate flag at our State House. So much for our wish to build a new image based on hydrogen research and the like.

    The event helped me begin to focus on this process, which has been easy to ignore with everything going on in South Carolina. There will be many debates, interviews and other opportunities before the winnowing is done. Whether this newspaper will support, or whether I personally will vote for, any of these candidates is a question that it is far too soon to answer.
    But this was a start.