Monday, April 30, 2007

Candidate Review Wednesday: Overview

This time 4 years ago, I was firmly committed to Florida's favorite son, my former boss, Senator and former Florida Governor Bob Graham. I had taken a look at Howard Dean and liked what I saw. I was not enamored of John Kerry (more on that later) and I thought John Edwards suffered from premature ejaculation (er, uh, candidacy).

This cycle, I am much more conflicted. There is not one candidate who stands head and shoulders above everyone else, in my opinion. Maybe the best candidate isn't even in the race. Maybe the best candidate is ineligible to run again. There are at least two candidates who I would be equally happy to have as my party's nominee. This is the embarrassment of riches we seem to be suffering this year.

Today, I am launching a series of diaries to try and get the fencepost out of my ass. This series is going to be a little bit like examining my navel, something I have successfully avoided doing to this point in my life for the most part. I hope at the end of the day to have developed a coherent reason to support one candidate over all the others.

There are a couple of caveats I should make here. I am going to support the Democratic nominee. Period.

I want to become a paid employee of, or consultant to, the campaign I end up choosing to support. I could repeat my pattern from the last presidential cycle and spend my energy on the Congressional level. That happened after my first choice, Bob Graham, decided he couldn't sustain a viable campaign. This cycle though, I hope I wind up catching on with the ultimate nominee.

There are two top level criteria I am going to use to evaluate the candidates. The first is their ability to win the nomination. The second is their ability to win the general election. You can't have one without the other. That's what happened to Howard Dean in Iowa last cycle. Iowans came to the conclusion that Dean could not win the general. They also came to the mistaken conclusion that John Kerry could, so what do they know?

In my attempts to evaluate candidates chances to win the nomination, I am going to look at these factors:

  • Values projected in the Message
  • Stance on issues
  • Fundraising ability
  • Staff competence
  • Primary strategy
  • Does this candidate make me feel it?

I am going to go back to square one and do my own research on all these factors. I am a devotee of values based decision making, so I am going to start with that navel gazing thing. I am going to have to come up with a set of criteria to evaluate how each candidate's message resonates with my values (That's the first and the last criteria on the list above.) Those criteria are, by their nature, subjective. The other criteria are more objective in nature. At the end of the day, it is going to come down to my gut feeling as to which candidate makes me feel it more.

That's how I intend to proceed. It should be an interesting journey.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Iraq Withdrawal - Post Veto Frame

Our Fearless Leader, Georgie W, today reiterated his plan to veto the Iraq Supplemental Appropriations bill passed by Congress this week. You know, the one with the goal of removing US troops from Iraq by the end of March 2008. What's to worry, you say. The American people are on our side on this.

Well, maybe. They are on our side, if we don't stick our foot in our mouth. Or let the other side frame the debate. Is this a slam dunk? Hardly.

Follow me and you'll get my take on how to play the next inning.

We have got to come out of the gate saying:
The President just refused the money needed to get our troops home safely from Iraq. He is now playing politics with the troops lives by refusing to take this money and refusing to plan a safe redeployment.

The numbers seem to be on our side. 71% of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq. 64% believe we should set a timetable for withdrawal. 57% believe Congress should have the final say on Iraq troop levels. Sounds pretty good, huh? Well, not so fast, Skippy. Take a look at this:

"The Democrats in Congress have proposed to fund the Iraq war only if the U.S. sets a timetable for troop withdrawal, too. George W. Bush has stated he will veto that proposal. If George W. Bush does veto it, what should the Democrats in Congress do next: should they try to withhold funding for the war until George W. Bush accepts a timetable for troop withdrawal, or should they allow funding for the war, even if there is no timetable?"

56% say Congress should allow the funding after the veto.

That is why we must drive home this point:
Bush refused the money.

Congress gave him the money he asked for, along with reasonable conditions for its use. Bush did not want to be bound by those conditions, so he refused the money. We must not allow the debate to be framed as Congress withholding the money. Congress voted for the money. George Bush refused the money. He is putting our troops lives at risk by refusing the money and refusing to plan a safe redeployment of our troops.

Just say yes, Georgie.