Over at the Big Orange Satan, our good friend ClammyC writes one of those “why do you want to be President” things. As a general rule, I dislike those types of diaries, as it buys into the whole idea of pols as something more than they are. Why does anyone run for President or for elected office period? To get elected. What values will they stand for? The ones that get them elected. Folks, that is what pols are. They are vessels for the political views that prevail in elections.
I have no doubt that each of the persons running believe they will do what is best for the country and be the best President ever. But they run to win. Asking them why they are running is silly in my opinion.
It’s funny that the most famous and damaging moment the “why do you want to be President?” question was asked was to Ted Kennedy by Roger Mudd in 1980. Kennedy fumbled the question and did great damage to his candidacy. But I ask you, did anyone have any doubt what Ted Kennedy would have tried to do as President? Ted Kennedy of all people?
I think Ted Kennedy is now the most honest, committed and, dare I say it, best representative of HIS OWN VIEWS in Congress. Heck, in politics. Why? Because Ted Kennedy will NEVER run for President and Ted Kennedy will never be beaten in an election. He is free. Of accountability with the voters. And of personal political ambition.
Every other politician, Russ Feingold not excluded, still feels the sway of the voters and personal political ambition. Pols are vessels of the politics of our country. They are the vehicles for the voices of the powers that decide elections. They do what they can and must to win elections.
Some call this pandering. Pandering, to me, is good. The question is who do you pander to. And why. Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner in the Presidential race. She is behaving in ways that she believes will enable her to win. To be frank, Hillary will not be the primary vehicle for making our voices heard on the issues. She must feel pressure from her rivals.
That is why I focus my attention on her rivals. That is why I support Chris Dodd. He has paid attention to the issues that matter to me. He has brought them to the fore. He has made his rivals move on those issues. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has moved NO ONE on any issue since he became a Senator. From my perspective, his candidacy has been an utter failure. I think from his perspective, he wants to win, it has been as well.
I deplore this focus on “doubletalk” (as if all them do not engage in it.) Press Clinton on the issues. Indeed, press Clinton’s RIVALS on the issues. Asking them why they want to be President is not only a waste of time, it distracts from what I think most of us want – attention to the issues we care about.
I know this admonition will fall on deaf ears when it comes to the rabid supporters of particular politicians. It seems clear to me that they have decided to put issues on the backburner. But for the rest of us, I hope we can focus in on what matters and pressure those who can put the issues on the front burner.