The Stumped Guide to the Candidates and the War
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Can you categorize the candidates' positions on Iraq?
-- Tom Rand
Sure. But remember, their categorizations and mine may differ.
Hillary Clinton: Let's not fret too much about how we got here, or whether Bill and I once supported this war. Let's all just focus on my talking points: If George Bush won't, I will end this war. Still, some troops will have to stay over there a long time.
Barack Obama: People, can we just fret for a minute? C'mon, let's fret about the past. I know I was just a state legislator at the time, but darn it, I did oppose this war. And she didn't! Still, some troops will have to stay over there a long time.
John Edwards: I have apologized for my vote to authorize the war. Back then, I was a different person -- a person who believed there was only one America. Now I know there are two Americas, and I belong in the one that opposes the war. There are more votes there. Still, some troops will have to stay over there a long time.
Joseph Biden: Forget about whether there are one or two Americas. What we need are three Iraqs. Split the place up along sectarian lines and call it a day. Have I mentioned that I have been talking to foreign leaders since before any of those front-runners were born? I mean, have I mentioned it recently? And yes, some troops will have to stay over there a long time.
Bill Richardson: Tell me again, why do some troops have to stay over there a long time?
Dennis Kucinich: How can I, the peace candidate who has opposed the war all along, still poll below the margin of error? Is it personal?
Mitt Romney: We have to win over there, though mistakes might have been made. That's where I stand, but you should have a hard time being sure because I can turn on a dime, and have a knack for making you think I agree with you.
John McCain: Of course mistakes were made! I have been saying that all along. We needed a massive surge from the get-go. If we leave Iraq, the bad guys are going to follow us all the way to Phoenix. There is no substitute for victory against the Islamofascists.
Rudolph Giuliani: I am grateful for the Islamofascists. Without them, I'd be doomed, forced to talk about abortion, guns, immigration, my family.... I am also grateful for Ron Paul, who graciously plays the role of gutless Democrat in our debates, allowing me to show my tough, indignant, let-me-finish-wiping-the-rubble-off-my-coat side.
Ron Paul: The only reason we are in Iraq is because of a conspiracy involving the Trilateral Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Council on Foreign Relations and, possibly, the NFL. And of course folks are waging jihad against us; we are occupying their lands. We'd go nuts too.
Mike Huckabee: Where is Iraq, exactly?
Fred Thompson: Didn't we already win this war? I remember a big parade in Washington. There were lots of flags and yummy hot dogs. Are we talking about Iran?
Tom Tancredo: For once, I agree with Senator McCain. We have to stay because if we don't fight the illegal aliens over there, we'll have to fight them here.
I'm sure you've noticed that all of the most likely presidential candidates are from the East Coast. This really kills me as a California resident. These people take campaign money from the rich in L.A. and Silicon Valley, then totally screw us when it comes time to spend the moola (note that California is just about dead last in taxes paid vs. federal money received). How do we get these East Coast politicians to return a few favors? Or how do we get Arnold on the ticket?
I don't agree with half your premise: Not all leading presidential candidates are from the East Coast. Okay, Rudy Giuliani is about as East Coast as you can get. But several of the other candidates are geographically ambiguous, such as Hillary Clinton (New York? Illinois? Arkansas?), Mitt Romney (Massachusetts? Michigan? Utah?) or Barack Obama (Illinois? Hawaii? Indonesia?). And the South can claim Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and John Edwards. There is a dearth of Western candidates in the top tier -- I count only John McCain and Bill Richardson.
On the subject of California, however, I share your frustration. Why does the nation's largest state -- and by far its most important one, if you consider the aggregate power of Silicon Valley and Hollywood to shape our culture and define America to the rest of the world -- punch so far below its weight on the national political stage? Things are so dire, the most exciting "new" face in statewide politics is Attorney General Jerry Brown. (And no, he's not the son of the one you are thinking about. It's still him.) The state that once gave the country Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has got nothing. Nada.
It is a shame, since you mention it, that the successful, moderate Republican governor of the country's largest state is barred from running for the presidency. After some early stumbles, Arnold Schwarzenegger has proved to be an immensely likable leader for those of us who inhabit the purplish, independent center (his mischievous friendship with New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is worth keeping an eye on). It is downright un-American that, in this nation of immigrants, a naturalized citizen cannot aspire to the presidency.
Then again, as someone close to the governor once told me, Schwarzenegger might be a very different governor if he had to govern the state with an eye toward GOP primary voters in states like South Carolina. One thing's for sure: We'll never know.
By Andres Martinez |
December 4, 2007; 12:00 AM ET
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