Thursday, December 28, 2006

John Edwards Announces

John Edwards, who ran as John Kerry's vice president in 2004, announced his run for the 2008 Democratic nomination today. His announcement was staged in New Orlean's Lower Ninth Ward.

CBS News reported that last night he created a media event by doing yard work with young volunteers of a woman whose house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in preparation for the announcement today.

He was interviewed this morning on ABC's Good Morning America with George Stephanopolous. Stephanopolous asked only one policy question in the four minute interview, which was on the war in Iraq, although it was framed in a "why should Democrats nominate you" on Iraq when Edwards originally supported the war and now he's against it.

Edwards' response was to highlight honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity as characteristics he would posess in dealing with Iraq. Although not mentioning Bush's name, he clearly insinuated Bush lacked those characteristics in the war in Iraq. He also rejected the idea of strengthening troop levels in Iraq, and he parroted the now-overused phrase that Iraq requires a political solution not a military solution.

Stephanopolous started the interview with a snippy strategy question by noting that Edwards had criticized President Bush in 2004 for exploiting Ground Zero for political gain, and whether Edwards was now doing the same thing with New Orleans. Edwards emphasized that New Orleans still needs much help after Hurricane Katrina and must not be forgotten--a nice job of dodging the question.

The caption underneath Edwards' bust shot was "John Edwards Running for President: Can He Take on the Big Names?" This theme was emphasized by the question of whether he's more qualified than Hillary Clinton. Edwards responded by saying that it's not up to him to decide, but that the next leader would have great responsibility to rebuild leadership and moral authority in the world - perhaps a slight dig on the Clinton legacy?

There was also news today that his Website was launched early, yesterday rather than today, and it was reported as a glitch for the campaign. CBS reported that campaign staff shut the site down until this morning.

I went through the website, and it's a little glitchy. When I entered the website from the splash screen, I went hunting for the announcement speech, but couldn't find it. Then, I wandered to the blog, which requires registration. After doing that (grrr), the site said I'd successfully logged in, but then the blog didn't load. I had to click on the blog link at the top to see any of the content. When I went back to the home page of the site, the top now heralds his announcement speech and includes vide from You Tube of a speech he made yesterday, which was posted on Wednesday night, according to Paul Kaputska. Kaputska declares the pre-announcement announcement on You Tube a candidate first. Of that, I am sure.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Who's Running For President?

I should be grading undergraduate student papers, but procrastination is the name of the game (you should see how spotless my kitchen is). To continue the dawdling until I really must start grading, let's take a little run down of who has thrown or has been publicly thinking about throwing their hat into the ring.


Two candidates have officially announced, and many others are exploring a run for the nomination:
  • Tom Vilsack, Governor of Iowa, announced he was running earlier this year. His website suggests he is running a high tech campaign, utilizing his blackberry, videoblogging, and social software to connect to possible supporters. His website, though, lacks any indication of why he's running for Governor or what his major issues are.
  • Dennis Kucinich, the anti-war candidate in 2004, has announced a second run at the Democratic nomination, continuing his anti-war message.
  • Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, has declared that he will form an exploratory committee to investigate a run for the nomination.
  • Joe Biden, Senator from Delaware, said he would seek the Democratic nomination.
  • Evan Bayh, Senator from Indiana, had announced plans to form an exploratory committee at the beginning of December, but has since decided not to run.
  • Mark Warner, former Governor of Virginia, had explored a run, but announced he would not seek the nomination. What was interesting about Warner was that he held a townhall forum in the 3-D sandbox, Second Life. I'm disappointed he dropped out, only because I was curious to see what he would do with his digital self.
  • Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York (and former First Lady, in case you've been living on a deserted island for the past 14 years), has been visiting New Hampshire and Iowa, and making noise about an exploratory committee. I must confess that I'm not eager to see her run. The days of Hillary hating were painful, and they will be back in force when she throws her hat into the ring.
  • Barak Obama, junior Senator from Illinois, has been the media's baby, creating quite a splash on his visit to New Hampshire last week. Will this media darling sustain the withering scrutiny of an attentive press?
  • Al Gore, former Vice President. I throw his name into this simply because there has been much speculation that his movie An Inconvenient Truth was his entry back onto the political scene. I'm not sure myself. I suspect he's quite happy beating the drum of global warming and not the drum of president. But, we shall see.

As far as I can tell, no one has yet declared him or herself a candidate for the nomination, but here are a few who are exploring:
  • John McCain, Senator from Arizona, created an exploratory committee a month ago. The news media has been running polls with Hillary as his Democratic opponent. McCain does not have much support with the Republican base, but wide-spead popularity with independents and Democrats. For Hillary, it's the opposite: strong support from the base, and weak support from independents and Republicans.
  • Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York, established his exploratory committee in November. He has widespread popularity as America's mayor given his remarkable performance during and after the days of the terrorist attacks.
  • Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, is considering the nomination. Romney is interesting, because he's not a traditional Republican. His state was one of the few to declare gay marriage a legal right for lesbians and gays. His state pushed for comprehensive health care.
  • Tommy Thompson, former Governor of Wisconsin, says he will form an exploratory committee in January. All I know of Thompson is that he's a good conservative.
  • George Pataki, soon-to-be former Governor of New York, has been visiting New Hampshire and Iowa, but I'm not sure if he's actually formed an exploratory committee yet. Pataki is, like Romney, a moderate conservative, and I'm not sure he's got wide-spread support from the Republican base. He also has about as much personality as milk toast.
  • Bill Frist, former Senate Majority Leader, has declared he won't seek the nomination, although he had made noises of this sort earlier this year. Thank goodness. I will never forgive him for his arm-chair assessment of Terry Schiavo. For that, he should have lost his medical license.
Stayed tuned. There's two years more of this to come . . . .

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Draft

Since 2003 Representative Charles Rangle of New York has been talking about legislation to reinstate the draft. Not an NFL draft, but a military draft. His rationale for the legislation is to sensitize Congress to the seriousness of war authorization if their own sons and daughters might be called to serve. He also believes that military service in an all volunteer army falls primarily on those who are often from the lower classes and minority communities and have few options. By forcing a draft, the people whose bodies on the line would come from all classes.

The conversation is back on the table as the Iraq Study Group releases its findings, as the Senate confirms Roberg M. Gates to serve as Secretary of Defense, and as Rangle moves to chair the House Ways and Means Committee.

The conversations in the past days have focused on whether more troops should move into Iraq to help stabilize the country. The problem with that plan, if that were to be the will of the Administration, is there aren't that many more troops to be had. More National Guard and Reservists could be called up and more service men and women currently in Iraq could be forced to serve more tours. But, is that the answer? Or is it time for a draft?

Even if the Administration decides to remove troops from Iraq, it is evident that the United States cannot fight a war on two fronts with an all volunteer army, which has been the measure of our military strength. We have not the troop strength to sustain such a feat.

So, what do we do? Do we revise our vision as a military super power and back off an ideal that we can fight a war on two fronts? Or, do we reinstate the draft for such times as these, when the nation is at war?

What do you think?