Sunday, February 17, 2008

Campaign '08: Two Key Factors -- Unity and Forcing McCain to Choose Between His Captors and the Truth

The Candidate, A Film by Robert Redford (1972)

Announcing the suspension of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suggested he was bowing out to help strengthen Republican chances at winning in November. He said that mattered, in part, because, “Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat, declare defeat.” Think Progress, 2-9-08

Campaign '08: Two Key Factors -- Unity and Forcing McCain to Choose Between His Captors and the Truth

By Richard Power

The 2008 presidential election is of profound importance.

There are two key factors.

First, the Democrats must not tear themselves apart in the process of choosing their nominee.

Second, the Democrats must make John McCain choose between embracing or repudiating the record of the Bush-Cheney regime as well as that of its Republican enablers and protectors in the US Senate.

Obama vs. Clinton

No, I am not going to weigh in on Clinton versus Obama.

But I urge you to read the four powerful pieces from four worthy individuals excerpted here. Each argues one side or the other of Obama vs. Clinton. Taken together, they constitute an inspiring, insightful debate.

Joe Wilson writes:

I have spent the past four years fighting a concerted character assassination campaign orchestrated by the George W. Bush White House. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is one of the few who fully understood the stakes in that battle. Time and again, she reached out to my wife -- outed CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson -- and me to remind us that as painful as the attacks were, we simply could not allow ourselves to be driven from the public square by bullying. To do so would validate the radical right's thesis that the way to win debates is to demonize opponents, taking full advantage of the natural desire to avoid confrontation, even if it means yielding on substantive issues. Hillary knew this from experience, having spent the better part of the past 20 years fighting the Republican attack machine. She is a fighter. Joe Wilson, Huffington Post, 2/13/08

Gary Hart writes:

Through some miracle of timing, luck, and good fortune Barack Obama has seized the moment. His mantra of "change" has been largely co-opted by lesser figures. He is in fact an agent of transformation. He is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians, and this makes him seem elusive to the conventional press and the traditional politicians. His instinct for the moment and the times is orders of magnitude more powerful than the experience claimed by others. Experience in the old ways is irrelevant experience. ... I see Barack Obama as a leader for this transcendent moment, the agent of transformation in an age of revolution, as a figure uniquely qualified to open the door to the 21st century and to convert threat to great new opportunity. Gary Hart, Huffington Post, 2-13-08

Erica Jong writes:

Unfortunately the Hillary-Haters are in charge. They monopolize the networks, the newspapers, the talk shows -- both radio and TV. They are crossing their legs for fear of castration. They are wearing the body armor our troops never got. Or got too late to matter. They are determined that a woman will not prove herself competent as Commander in Chief. ... Ho hum. We've seen this all before in the United States of Amnesia (Gore Vidal's brilliant phrase). Remember Geraldine Ferraro -- tarred with the brush of her Italian-American husband, whom they claimed was a mafioso? Remember Bella Abzug, attacked for her hats (which covered too large a brain)? Remember Eleanor Roosevelt, attacked for her teeth? Remember Victoria Woodhull (the first woman to run for president) "hanged" as a whore? Remember Emma Goldman rode out of town on a rail -- for being Jewish, liking to dance and supporting the rights of the working classes? Perhaps you know the history. Most likely you don't. They'd rather you didn't know it. Hence trillions for guns and pennies for education. Erica Jong, Huffington Post, 2/13/08

Addressing Sen. Obama directly, Toni Morrison writes:

I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. ... In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. ... Toni Morrison Toni Morrison, New York Observer, 1-28-08

I could argue the pros and cons either way.

What is most important is that there is unity once there is a nominee. (And, of course, such unity cannot be achieved if the nomination is obtained unfairly.)

How to Turn McCain on Himself

The Democrats must strike early and define John McCain (R-AZ), the presumptive Republican candidate, as a once great maverick who tragically sacrificed his soul to become the nominee of his party.

The electorate must be reminded that after he and his family were smeared and slimed in the 2000 campaign, McCain spent the next eight years of his life ingratiating himself to the man who had it done; not to mention wrapping himself in the bloody banner of the neo-con cult and pandering to the American Taliban on the religious right. In short, McCain has betrayed his values and himself.

The 2008 election must be framed as a referendum on the record of the Bush-Cheney administration and its enablers in the Congressional branch, in particular the Republican members of the US Senate, who scuttled all oversight while they controlled the body, and then used the filibuster to stall almost all meaningful legislation after they lost control in 2006.

Whether the issue is national security or economic security, the record is both appallingly clear and clearly appalling.

McCain's first line of defense in his attempt to hold the White House for the Republican Party is going to be "national security," of course, i.e., the war IN, OF, BY and FOR terrorism.

Here are some suggestions on how to deal with him on this issue --

Stop referring to it as "the war in Iraq," it is not a war, as Thom Hartmann reminds us day in and day out, it is an occupation. The US military won the war, and removed Saddam Hussein from power.

It is the occupation that is the problem. And the problem is not just that the occupation isn't going well, the problem is also that the occupation is not meant to end.

Establishing permanent bases was always the intent. (And everyone who voted for the initial authorization knew it way back then.)

Debate the occupation. Debate the cost of it -- both in lives and treasure. Debate its efficacy, not its morality.

Demand accountability on Bin Laden and Zawahiri.

Demand accountability on Tora Bora and Waziristan.

Why are Bin Laden and Zawahiri still alive and at large?

(And if one or the other of them is indeed dead, well, then there is even more explaining to do, isn't there?)

Demand accountability on the decision to invade and occupy the secular Iraq of Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of Al Qaeda, instead of focusing on Afghanistan and tightening the screws on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Demand this accountability from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Force him to either embrace or rebuke Bush.

Do not let him hide behind his criticism of the fallen Rumsfeld. It was too little too late. Do not let him hide behind the false idol of Petraeus. (Memorize Juan Cole's "Top Ten Myths about the Iraq 2007" and share them with everyone you know.)

Meanwhile, there is even more disturbing news on Bush's "strong allies" in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan:

Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed ..
Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence. ... .
Guardian 2-15-08

In an audio recording obtained by Human Rights Watch, Pakistan's Attorney General Malik Qayyum stated that upcoming parliamentary elections will be "massively rigged," Human Rights Watch said ...
In the recording, Qayyum appears to be advising an unidentified person on what political party the person should approach to become a candidate in the upcoming parliamentary election, now scheduled for February 18, 2008.
Human Rights Watch, 2-15-08

The day after Human Rights Watch released that statement ...

A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed as many as 45 people and left dozens injured near the election office of the late Benazir Bhutto's People's Party in Parachinar, Pakistan, ahead of elections in two days. ... A series of bomb attacks in the past month have targeted anti-Taliban candidates in Pakistan's Pashtun northwest and in the southern city of Karachi. Bloomberg, 2/16/08

Prince Bandar, the man who delivered the threat to the British government, is often referred to as "Bandar Bush" because of his closeness to the Bush family.

Malik Qayyum, the Attorney General caught on tape talking about "massively rigged" elections, was also secretly taped while he was the judge in the "corruption" trial of Benazir Bhutto years ago:

In February 2001, the Sunday Times, a British newspaper, published a report based on transcripts of 32 audio tapes, which revealed that Qayyum convicted Bhutto and Zardari for political reasons. The transcripts of the recordings reproduced by the newspaper showed that Qayyum asked then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's anti-corruption chief, Saifur Rehman, for advice on the sentence: "Now you tell me how much punishment do you want me to give her?" Human Rights Watch, 2-15-08

Will these people be McCain's "strong allies" too?

None of this should surprise you.

As Naomi Wolf remarks,"Musharraf’s Playbook is the Same as the Bush Administration’s."

At a broad level, both Bush and Musharraf have consistently magnified real threats to security in their public communications in order to promote fear and intimidate political opponents. In America, fear of another catastrophic attack in the wake of 9/11 was used to justify the round-ups of material witnesses, domestic spying and the PATRIOT Act. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the threat of armed fundamentalists was cited as the reason to sack the Supreme Court and restrict the press. ...
Both Bush and Musharraf have largely ignored the real security threats they use to promote fear. Bush started a war in Afghanistan only to then grow distracted by an Iraq conflict whose only relation to terrorism was to encourage more of it. Musharraf has ignored his regime’s ongoing support for militants despite the threat they pose to his own government, instead spending U.S. money on high-tech force structure (such as F-16s) for a hypothetical war with India.
Huffington Post, 2-15-08

The question is will Sen. John McCain embrace such ugliness?

Bush says the answer is yes.

On Fox News today, Time’s Mark Halperin said, “The President behind the scenes has told people for months that he thought McCain would be the nominee. Even during some of those dark periods he still thought he could win. And also that McCain would be the best to carry forth his agenda.” Think Progress, 2-8-08

If McCain embraces the Bush not-so-hidden agenda, the US electorate will reject him; if McCain repudiates it, much of his Kool-Aid base will desert him. Either way, he will lose.

But he must be forced to choose.

The same is true on other vital issues, e.g., the economy, the war on science being waged by Christian fundamentalists, etc. -- force McCain to chose. Either way, he loses.

Sticking to a course that will drive him into this political cul-de-sac will require both skill and courage on the part of the Democratic nominee.

Such skill and courage will inspire a huge voter turnout in November. It will be needed. If the race is too close, it could be stolen -- again.

The US mainstream news media will not be of any assistance in this effort.

Therefore, it must injected into the psyche of the nation through progressive talk radio and the blogosphere, but it is a story-line that must also be drawn on by the candidate directly.

If he or she does, McCain will snap.

First, he will lose it, and then he will lose.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on Campaign '08, click here.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on 9/11, Terrorism, etc., click here.

Some Related Posts

Words of Power Interviews Erica Jong: "We think that history will proceed in a straight line. Nothing could be further from the truth."

Unless there is some reckoning, the nightmare of the last eight years will never end, it will only seem to end

Campaign '08 Update: Open Letter to Sen. Barack Obama -- This is Not a "Food Fight." This is a *Civil* War

"Live Free or Die" has New Meaning: Stolen Elections? Not Just 2000 and 2004, But Also 2002

Hard Rain Journal 9-17-07: An Open Letter to Al Gore -- The List, & What Will Happen to the USA & the Planet if We Don't Address It In 2008

Campaign '08 Update 8-12-07: Open Letter to Democratic Primary & Caucus Voters -- Turn This Race Upside Down!

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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