Tag Archives: Mike Gravel

Your Thoughts: Who Should RFK Jr. Choose As His Running Mate?

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NAME THAT TICKET: KENNEDY/??????

Just for grins (this ain’t no scientific poll!), we’d like to know your thoughts:

If Robert F. Kennedy Jr. ran for President of the United States, who would you like to see as his running mate? Who should he pick for VP?

A few names have already been floated over the past year as potential running mates – we’ve heard some great suggestions so far, such as:

  • Al Gore (wouldn’t that be the environmental dream ticket of the century?)
  • Senator Edward Kennedy (a Kennedy/Kennedy ticket? Interesting!)
  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich (always thought Kennedy/Kucinich had a great ring to it)
  • Former Senator Mike Gravel (longtime Democrat and 2008 presidential candidate who has now converted to Libertarianism)
  • Ralph Nader (although at age 74, we worry a bit about the “one heartbeat away” thing)
  • Senator Hillary Clinton (yes, it has been suggested that if she loses the Democratic nomination, she might just go renegade! How bad does she want the White House, anyway? And as VP, would she actually be the one to answer the phone at 3 A.M.instead of the President?)
  • Former Minnesota Governor and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura (who speaks of a possible independent run for the presidency in 2008 with RFK Jr. as his running mate. No jest!)

 

These are just a few ideas that have been suggested – some are flat crazy, some make sense. But we think the readers of this blog probably have some better ideas. Many of you are Bobby’s biggest fans – you know better than anyone who would make a great running mate for him – so let us know your thoughts.

We want to hear from you: imagining not only a winning ticket on the campaign trail, but who would serve him best in a presidential administration. Who would you like to see as Bobby Kennedy Jr.’s Vice President?

 

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Has the Media Already Crowned Obama King?

THE OBAMA PHENOMENA

If the election were tomorrow (and maybe it should be), Barack Obama would be president. Thanks to a media transfixed by the candidate’s star power, Senator Obama has seemingly unstoppable momentum. He’s got the media and the masses. The delegates can’t be far behind. And that’s the ball game, folks. The race may be over before it’s even been run.

So what’s the point of having an election then, if this thing has already been decided? Just think of all the money and trouble we could save ourselves by just calling the race early and getting the damn thing over with. If it’s a foregone conclusion, can we all go home now? 

Here’s a novel idea: let’s redirect all that obscene money candidates spend on campaigns back to the people. There’s a few billion bucks we could use to feed the hungry and the homeless in this country. Might even solve the economic crisis. It would certainly make a sizeable dent in the debt. Nah…that’s far too compassionate and wise. Can’t do that.

All sarcasm aside, I am troubled by the media’s rush to crown Barack Obama the once and future king (or perhaps the next Dr. King) after only five primaries. Ever since his astonishing win in Iowa, it seems the pundits can’t contain their own bias. Nor could they disguise their disappointment when Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire and Nevada. And after South Carolina, I’m convinced they’ve lost all objectivity and possibly their minds.

No sooner had Obama been declared the winner in South Carolina, in came the news that Caroline Kennedy, the late president’s daughter, was endorsing Barack Obama. The very next day, Senator Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Senator Obama was treated like the Second Coming of Camelot. All three cable news network took his speech live (quite rare), and proclaimed that “Obama is the next JFK.”

President Kennedy and his son, john F. Kennedy Jr.

WHAT STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS?

The endorsement drew the focus of the national media away from the runup to President Bush’s State of the Union address (as someone who has worked in newsrooms for more than 20 years, let me tell you how unheard of that is!), making the front pages of the major dailies and the lead of each of the networks last night.

ABC World News reported, “Today the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. The Kennedy clan annointed Barack Obama, a son of Camelot.” Sen. Ted Kennedy: “I know that he’s ready to be the president on day one.” For Bill Clinton, “who has always cast himself as President Kennedy’s political heir, today’s endorsement was a slap to face.”

The CBS Evening News reported, “It was a moment packed with political significance. Ted and Caroline Kennedy, the surviving brother and child of a revered Democratic president declaring that the torch has been passed.”

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams led by contending: “It’s been 45 years since a Kennedy has been in the White House, and yet because of the American fascination with the family name, and the family business of politics, the Kennedy name still has the power to grab the attention of millions of Americans.”

USA Today reports Obama also “picked up the support Monday of author Toni Morrison, who once called Bill Clinton ‘the first black president.’” The AP reports Morrison “said she has admired Clinton for years because of her knowledge and mastery of politics, but then dismissed that experience in favor of Obama’s vision.”

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric teased, “Passing the torch: Barack Obama is tapped as the candidate to continue the Kennedy legacy.” NBC’s Lee Cowan, who earlier this month conceded “it’s almost hard to remain objective” when covering Obama, showed he also has a soft spot for the Kennedys as he radiated over how “the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar.”

With “New Son of Camelot” on screen over video of Obama and Ted Kennedy, Nightline anchor Terry Moran led thusly: “Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK…

Good evening, everyone. I’m Terry Moran. And tonight, on a night when the President gave his final State of the Union address, he was overshadowed.” Moran soon hailed how “the political world was transfixed by the spectacle of the most powerful Democratic family of the 20th century christening a new torch bearer for the 21st.” 

 

HAVE WE GONE “CAMELOT CRAZY”?

I’m not saying that Obama isn’t an exciting candidate. He is. This man inspires and stirs the minds and hearts of people in ways we haven’t witnessed in 40 years. He’s one hell of a handsome fellow with charisma to burn. He opens his mouth and poetry flows from his lips. He also seems to have some pretty good ideas about how to get the country back on track. But so do his Democratic opponents – and we’re suddenly not hearing much from them. Why not? Aren’t Clinton and Edwards still in the race?

Well, last time I checked, yes. So why aren’t they getting a lot more face time on tee-vee?

The answer is clear to anyone who has been paying attention. The media even admits their pro-Obama bias, albeit sheepishly. They just can’t help it, they say: yes, we’re journalists, but we’re human beings, too – and we are simply moved by what Obama is doing. Is that so wrong?

Well, actually, yes it is. This is an election year, we’re only a few primaries into the race, and we have a stellar array of impressive Democratic candidates to cover. Our job as journalists is to provide fair coverage across the board to all. Our job is not to steer voters towards one candidate or another, nor is it to heap undue praise or criticism on any of them. We’re supposed to report the news and get the hell out of the way, remember?

In the midst of all the excitement, we seem to be forgetting ourselves. We’ve all forgotten that opinion belongs on the Editorial page. We are not serving the American people well if we are not providing accurate information and dispassionate analysis – even if it makes really good TV. We are not paid to drool all over Obama’s shoes, no matter how moved we may be by his message.

FAIR AND BALANCED, MY ASS

The 2008 election will likely be the most important in our lifetime. This race is for all the marbles — so this is hardly a time for the media to lose theirs. Americans must make a well-informed decision when they walk into the voting booth. How can they possibly do that if information about the candidates is selectively made available?

This was precisely the problem faced by dark horse candidates such as Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel (who is still running, incidentally – although CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX won’t tell you that), Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. On the Republican side, it’s a bloody miracle if Ron Paul can get five minutes on any network besides C-SPAN. And just imagine the uphill battle a Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader will have as Green or Independent challengers this year. One can’t win the presidency on netroots buzz alone.

Without mainstream media coverage, a candidate’s message is lost on the people. Unless each and every candidate is afforded the opportunity to present themselves and their platform to the public, they don’t stand a snowball’s chance.

So, I guess Lou Dobbs may as well throw his hat into the ring – at least he’s got a highly-rated nightly show on CNN – he has a strong base of followers and a media machine revved up and ready to take him to November. Dobbs may be the only hope for Independents who reject the two-party system outright, and who desperately need a candidate. But not just any candidate. This dog must hunt – otherwise the time, effort and expense of a campaign is an utter waste. Lou Dobbs is no fool, he knows this game all too well. (Which probably explains why he is emphatically not running!)

The same could be said for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who also has his own media platform, a weekly show on Air America radio. This program is not only heard coast-to-coast, but around the world. Kennedy has already won countless thousands of converts via his books, articles, and public speaking engagements – to say nothing of having the Kennedy name.

The Independent Populists, Democrats, Liberals, Greens and Progressives who embrace him are hungry for a real candidate in 2008 – and they still haven’t found what they’re looking for in anyone but Bobby. They haven’t given up. They still want him to run. Now.

SIGN THE PETITION to Draft RFK Jr. for President!

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

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Op-Ed: Give Peace A Chance in `08

PEACE ON EARTH

(Unless you happen to live in Iowa or New Hampshire, that is…) 

Over the holidays, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will no doubt be bombarded with political advertising and nonstop lobbying from candidates in last-minute efforts to convert them.

Imagine your phone ringing off the hook with campaign calls during holiday meals, or while you are trying to spend some quality time with visiting relations. 

So much for Silent Nights. Peace on earth, you say? Try living in Iowa or New Hampshire, where a moment’s peace from the political onslaught can’t seem to be bought for any price.

The people of Iowa and New Hampshire are the guinea pigs in this experimental process of moving primary elections ahead to early January for the first time in history, and they certainly have our sympathies. Over the course of the next few days, voters in these key early primary states will be making their final decisions as to which candidate they will vote for, setting the stage for what follows in the national political arena.

But after nearly a year of presidential politicking, these battleground state voters are divided among the leading candidates, and more than half are still undecided, according to recent CBS/New York Times polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.

That makes the race up for grabs in the opening weeks of 2008, and things could get really interesting. It’s all going to depend on what the “great undecided” choose to do.

For your consideration, we would like to present a recent editorial that speaks to the undecided voter and makes a mighty compelling argument that if you want change, if you truly want peace on earth, it is time to stop voting for the lesser of two evils.

PUT PEACE BEFORE PARTY

By Kevin Zeese

Peace voters have choices in 2008, but will they have the courage to support peace candidates?

In recent debates the candidates were asked whether they will support the nominee of their party. Despite increasingly harsh rhetoric between the candidates only two candidates had the courage to put peace before their party and refused to issue blanket support for their party nominee. Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Dennis Kucinich responded they would not support the nominee unless the nominee opposed war as an instrument of foreign policy.

This deserves loud applause from the peace movement. No doubt both candidates will pay a political price for taking such a stand. They may get the “Gravel Treatment” – presidential candidate Mike Gravel was harshly critical of the top tier candidates of the Democratic Party and now is excluded from the debates because the Democratic National Committee no longer considers him a serious candidate and the corporate media, which walks lock-step with the corporate parties, has refused to invite him to any debates. His campaign has all but disappeared.

Kucinich and Paul face other potential repercussions for putting the life and death issue of war and peace before party loyalty. Both are incumbent congressmen and if they are unsuccessful in getting their party’s presidential nomination will seek re-election to Congress. Will they find themselves with a well-funded primary challenger? And, if elected, will they find their committee assignments downgraded? Will they be appointed to subcommittee or committee chairmanships or passed over in favor of party loyalists? There are many ways for a political party to punish lack of party loyalty. So, Kucinich and Paul deserve a great deal of credit for publicly standing up for peace before party.

And, Kucinich and Paul did not just come out in opposition to the current disastrous occupation of Iraq. They came out more broadly for an end to the aggressively interventionist U.S. foreign policy that is dominated by militarism. This is the type of paradigm shifting policy change that is needed in U.S. foreign policy.

The fact that the U.S. spends as much as the whole world combined on the military ensures that every other aspect of American civil life is underfunded. It is why the debt is increasing, infrastructure is failing, the U.S. remains addicted to oil, college is overpriced, health care for all unachievable, and pre-school for children widely unavailable. If the U.S. wants to build economic security at home it needs to stop spending half the federal government’s discretionary spending on the military. If we want to build security from terrorism the U.S. needs to stop creating enemies faster than we kill them. If the U.S. wants “them” to stop hating “us” we need to stop behaving like an empire.

Sadly, at least one peace group, Friends Committee on National Legislation, is turning its back on these real peace candidates. FCNL whose slogan is “War is Not the Answer,” has published a voter guide that excludes Kucinich, Paul and Gravel – the three candidates who really believe war is not the answer. FCNL readers will not learn about these peace candidates in their on-line voter guide. Why? FCNL decided on an arbitrary cut-off point in polling that excludes these candidates. All the candidates that are included keep the military option for Iran on the table and do not advocate cutting military expenditures, only one (Bill Richardson) calls for complete withdrawal from Iraq. Are these “war is not the answer” candidates?

For Kucinich and Paul this stab in the back from a peace group comes at a bad time. Kucinich recently won a straw poll by the progressive Democracy For America and in early returns Kucinich is leading in the Progressive Democrats of America straw poll. Paul has been doing extremely well in straw polls around the country as well as in fundraising and in some polls is bettering candidates like John McCain. Both seem to be getting some traction but if the peace movement is not going to even report on their positions – a movement which should be the base of their support – then what hope do they have?

Sadly, the FCNL view is not uncommon among peace voters. Too many look at which candidate is most likely to win. Peace voters need to learn that voting for peace candidates is the way to increase their power. Voting for candidates who support the occupation or waffle on whether they will remove the troops in their first term is voting against the interests of peace. It is voting for war as the primary instrument of foreign policy and empire as the goal of U.S. policy – because that is the view of the candidates covered by FCNL. Peace voters need to have the courage to vote for peace candidates.

Paul and Kucinich differ on many issues – Paul is a free-market thinker who sees the solutions to economic disparity, lack of access to health care, poor education, the environment and the housing crisis in less government and more market-based solutions. Kucinich, while agreeing with Paul on bolstering civil liberties and individual rights, sees the solution to health care as ending the for-profit dominated health insurance industry and replacing it with a non-profit single payer system provided by the government. Similarly on environmental issues Kucinich favors a major government investment in alternative energy that is clean and sustainable, Paul doesn’t. Kucinich favors abortion rights, Paul opposes federal government involvement in abortion.

Peace voters have a choice between two solid peace candidates with two very different views of government and the economy, but they have more. Mike Gravel is another long-term peace advocate who has been active against war since the Vietnam era. Some peace voters may also see a candidate in Governor Bill Richardson who favors a complete withdrawal from Iraq, but is keeping the military option on the table for Iran and does not advocate shrinking the U.S. military.

And, in the General Election, peace voters will have other options no matter what the two establishment parties decide. The Green Party recently acquired a new member in Cynthia McKinney. The former Member of Congress recently registered as a Green in California and filed with the FEC to seek the Green presidential nomination. She has been strongly anti-war for her whole career and during her last congressional term sought impeachment of President Bush for his illegal invasion of Iraq.

Ralph Nader, the long-time consumer activist and former presidential candidate who has been working against the Iraq invasion and occupation since before the war began, is also considering a run for the presidency, possibly as a Green or as an independent. He has tirelessly worked to end the Iraq occupation and throughout his career has been an advocate for less spending on the military and more spending on the necessities of the people. Nader has also been a long-term advocate for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for their deceptions and manipulations that led to the Iraq invasion.

Another Green candidate worthy of mention is Jared Ball. He is an assistant professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, has a radio show in Washington, DC, and is founder of FreeMix radio which puts together a monthly hip-hop compilation. He is a veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm and an opponent of the Iraq occupation.

The Libertarian Party also has several candidates running and they are likely to nominate a peace candidate as well. The LP’s official position on the Iraq occupation is: “It is time for U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq as quickly as possible in a manner consistent with the safety of our troops.”

Peace voters will have choices in 2008. There are several candidates who oppose both the Iraq occupation and the use of aggressive military force as the dominant approach to foreign policy. Peace voters make up the majority of Americans, but will they have the courage to vote their convictions or will they be manipulated by the two parties and the corporate media? Will they work and financially support peace candidates? It is a test for the peace movement to see whether it as the courage to put peace first.

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Democracy Rising (DemocracyRising.US) and Voters for Peace (VotersForPeace.US).

*DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the above editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or the owners of this web site.

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