Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why don't the good ones run?

Today's Urban Dictionary Word of the Day is Electile Dysfunction: The inability to become aroused over any of the choices for President put forth by either party during an election year.

It's no secret that most of America thinks the man we democratically elected in 2000 would be a better choice now than ever for president. Al Gore has made it very clear however, that he feels he can make a bigger difference in the private sector than in politics. Cynical as it may seem, I really can't argue with that logic.

But what about the other great leaders of our time who would make tremendously better presidents than any of the candidates we're faced with now? I'm speaking of Wesley Clark and Richard Holbrooke.

Clark and Holbrooke were the two primary figures in the only morally motivated act of war [if that is possible] the United States has engaged in in our lifetimes, and represent American ideals I would give my life to protect without hesitation. [On the far end of the spectrum, Bush II represents a dystopian vision of America I would gladly give my life to destroy if given the chance... and I'm about as interested in self-preservation as they come... a self-important pacifist, if you will. If I knew it could forever end the influence of corporate anti-culture and christian fundamentalism in government, I'd be first in line for the belt, but alas nothing is ever that simple.]

Holbrooke and Clark are real American leaders to look up to - at least in my idealistic world. We need leaders who are smarter than the smartest among us. Not lifetime politicians. Not the guy next door. People who've been in the trenches and can speak to our enemies in their own language. Valedictorians of West Point. Rhode Scholars. Ambassadors to the United Nations. Moderators of peace accords. People who know how to do things right for change.

Clark was sent to Bosnia by Secretary of Defense William Perry to serve as the military advisor to a diplomatic negotiating team headed by assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke. While the team was driving along a mountain road during the first week, the road gave way, and one of the vehicles fell over a cliff carrying passengers including Holbrooke's deputy, Robert Frasure, a deputy assistant Secretary of Defense, Joseph Kruzel, and Air Force Colonel Nelson Drew. Clark and Holbrooke attempted to crawl down the mountain, but were driven back by sniper fire. Once the fire ceased, Clark rappelled down the mountain to collect the bodies of two dead Americans left by Bosnian forces that had taken the wounded to a nearby hospital. After returning to Washington D.C. for funeral services, the negotiations continued and the team eventually reached the Dayton Agreement at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio and later signed it in Paris on December 14, 1995. [Note, Wes Clark was born in 1944 - only two years after my dad - and "rappelled down the mountain to collect the bodies of two dead Americans." The senior US military official in Yugoslavia... after a firefight on a collapsed mountain road... while GW was in Texas snorting coke, running companies into the ground and executing a record number of his state's citzens.]

Clark has said that he began to truly define his politics only after his military retirement in 2000 around the 2000 presidential election that would give George W. Bush the presidency. Clark had a conversation with Condoleezza Rice. She told him that the war in Kosovo [based solely on humanitarian reasons rather than economic or strategic interests] would have never taken place under a Bush administration, as they adhered more to realpolitik. Clark found such an administration unsettling, as he had been selected for the SACEUR position because he believed more in the interventionist policies of the Clinton administration. He said he would see it as a sign that things were "starting to go wrong" with American foreign policy if Bush was elected.

I don't quite get Obama yet, and Hilary I don't trust or like at all. I carry a tremendous amount of respect for people who will knowingly risk their personal best interests to stand up for what they believe in. I hate martyrs, but I dislike people who cater their opinions to what they think people want to hear even more. There is no such thing as universal truth, but being true to yourself is the one and only worthwhile faith-based initiative. That's the spirit America was founded on and why I'm still a die-hard Dennis Kucinich supporter. In that sense, I favor Obama because he walks the talk, and it is blatantly obvious Hilary will do, say and sacrifice anything and anyone to promote her personal ambitions. She is transparently manipulative and gives off a sense of entitlement I find utterly revolting. My biggest problem with Hilary though was her vote for the Iraq war. That really should be an instant disqualification for any candidate. All of her rhetoric about "change" doesn't change the fact that she stepped right in line when the president asked. It proves more than anything that her presidency will be more of the same old shit. If she didn't have the guts [and come on, it really wasn't that hard] to stand up to Dr. Dimwit then, why should any of us believe she'll stand up to anything? Hilary = same old Washington shit, international community continues to loathe us, etc. etc. Far left as I am on policy, I despise her character so much I'd likely break party lines and vote for McCain if she gets nominated [John McCain is a Nine Inch Nails fan by the way. True!] But then, here's the rub...

Reasonable speculation places Wesley Clark as Vice President and Richard Holbrooke as Secretary of State under a Hilary Clinton administration. This is due in large part to their close ties to the Clintons under Bill's two terms as president. There is no denying from either side of the aisle that the United States enjoyed it's most robust period of peace and economic growth under Bill than almost any other president this past century. Would a Hilary Clinton presidency be a return to the rad '90s? Who knows. If not Gore, Clark, Holbrooke or Kucinich as president, I might be able to get excited about Obama with Clark as a running mate. Right now that doesn't look like a realistic combo though, and we might have to face the reality of a Hilary Clinton presidency. If she announces Clark and Holbrooke as senior officials, I might even vote for her - not so secretly hoping she'll meet up with a falling piano sooner than later, and the nominee I thought was the best candidate in '04 takes office and fixes this clusterfuck we call the U.S. government.


Anonymous said...

What's your opinion, if any, on Ron Paul?

Michael Doyle said...

"What's your opinion, if any, on Ron Paul?"

I'm a fan. I didn't mention Paul or Kucinich in this particular post because they've both been so marginalized by the media that subject is a whole topic unto itself.

In '04 I would have been joyous to see a moderate like Obama, McCain or Clinton (pointing out differences between those three is splitting hairs.) But by now we're beyond settling for a moderate. So to answer your question - though I don't agree with him on everything, Ron Paul would be quite refreshing.