The Stumped Guide to the Candidates and the War

[Have a question for Stumped? Send it here. Questions may be edited.]

Dear Stumped,
Can you categorize the candidates' positions on Iraq?
-- Tom Rand

Dear Tom,

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.

Dear Stumped,
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?
Dave Wagner

Dear Dave,

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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Posted by: votenic | December 19, 2007 3:51 PM

My only question is: Do I still have a vote? Which state will the Trilaterlists pick this election to "tweak" so that their candidate wins? No, one other question: Was JFK wacked because he tried to ignore the Trilateralists in the same way that he was ignoring Jacki? Well, stranger things have happened, and all we've seen is the tip of the iceberg. The name of the ship, but the way, is "Titanic", as in "Titanic Stupidity of Most Folks Who still think elections are honest.

Posted by: Pietro Mario Di Giorgio | December 9, 2007 3:30 PM

Great!! But Sad.

Posted by: Sharon | December 5, 2007 2:08 PM

About your statement

"It is downright un-American that, in this nation of immigrants, a naturalized citizen cannot aspire to the presidency"

Is it un-American to follow the Constitution?

Posted by: American | December 5, 2007 12:00 PM

You've outdone yourself, Andres. This column is so good, I wish I'd written it. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: icenogle | December 4, 2007 10:37 PM

The Democrats don't have a clue about the war our boys are fighting overseas. Same for Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo the idiot that wants to fight all of Islam by destroying their holy sites, Huckabee is silent, Romney wants to torture people, Thompson thinks were doing swell, Guiliani wants to invade Iran which is no threat to this country and whom Israel has no choice but to bomb its nuclear weapon facilities with Iran's new Chinese supplied missle technology coming online, McCain who voted against funding troops in Somalia (Clinton had the general stay for an extra 6 months and got the warlord). McCain if he would back off Iran is probably the best candidate concerning judgement of the war theatres.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 4, 2007 9:07 PM

Biden has it almost right, there are three areas of Iraq under specific control, the Kurds, the Sunni, the Shia. The Kurds and Sunni represent 1/5 each of the population, the Shia the rest, but the Shia are divided into Badr support, Sadr support, and the majority which follows Sistani and other Grand Ayatollahs. Iraq should be divided into 5 states each with its own governor serving a five year term. A Kurdish, Sunni, Bahgdad, Karbala, and Najaf would each contain 1/5 of the population. The president of Iraq for one year would be a governor on a rotating basis. Legistlation would have to have 3/5 approval of the governors plus the president. It would need 4/5 approval to overide the presidents veto. A Grand Ayatollah should be appointed by the governors to insure legistlation is not against Islam. While the politicians do not want to be fair to the opposition, the people are ready for peace and compromise. We should fund a Hadj for all politicians, tribal leaders, and leading clerics to sign a ten year peace fatwa against revenge and violence in Iraq under the Kaba. When Sunni and Shia help each other to rebuild Iraq is the only time we can righteously leave Iraq. You don't destroy a country by having the businessmen, professionals and artisians flee the anarchy and bug out to let them fight each other with arms your country did not secure for lack of troop strength and engineers working on the oil production instead of blowing up ammo dumps. We are America and should be the moral light of the world, but suffer under the worst leadership of my lifetime. We still haven't solved the problem of Afghan poppy (and now marijuana) production making the poorest of Afghans, the farmer reap about $250 an acre. We must pay them 2 to 3 times the price for legal crops to compete. Worse still the Taliban controlled drug traffickers are processing in Pakistan for worldwide distribution, enabling the Taliban to gain a foothold for endless recruits in the northwest areas. If we would pay the farmer these exorbitant prices and ship excess food to Pakistan, we would win people in both areas. Win the people, win the war. This leadership has made us weaker in the war against radical salafists and truthfully, we have lost the moral mantle in the worlds eyes.

Posted by: James Chirico, Brooklyn, NY | December 4, 2007 7:24 PM

hey! none of the candidates mentioned WMDs or 9/11, surely some of them still believe there's a connection between 9/11 and Iraq and that Iraq still has WMDs :-)

Posted by: ricky.on.the.sidewalk | December 4, 2007 6:19 PM

This is hilarious! I really loved the Rudy and Thompson funny!

Posted by: SteelWheel1 | December 4, 2007 5:14 PM

All in all, a well done parody. Only bone that I have to pick is the use of "largest state" to describe California. "Most populous" would be accurate as any Alaskan will quickly point out.

Posted by: TomByrd | December 4, 2007 5:06 PM

I'm for Ron Paul, but really, that was funny stuff.

Posted by: gallaghd | December 4, 2007 1:16 PM

Ron Paul is the only candidate to have consistently opposed the war.
Posted by: xtrabiggg | December 4, 2007 02:57 AM


Please stop lying. Dennis Kucinich has not only opposed the war, he also opposed going to war, he voted against the war resolution and he has not voted to fund even a dime for the illegal occupation of Iraq since Bush criminally invaded Iraq.

Further, Dennis Kucinich is the only candidate who is actively seeking impeachment. No other candidates, including Ron Paul support impeachment of either Bush or dick Cheney.

Face it, Ron Paul is just another Republican who will say anything to get into office. His voting record is another matter.

Only Dennis Kucinich will truly represent WE THE PEOPLE.

Posted by: Kevin Schmidt, Ojai CA | December 4, 2007 12:02 PM

I'm not in favor of marginalizing the war, nor ridiculing candidates in favor of ending it.

That said, Mr. Martinez has consistently used satire and humor in all of his columns. I'm not sure why people still read his work and assume this is the same as the actual news items you'd read on the front page.

In addition to the regular news, there are at least half a dozen political blogs from which one could gather information on the candidates and their positions. This particular column is as much about entertainment as information, so for those who don't find it entertaining, I might suggest they look elsewhere.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | December 4, 2007 12:01 PM

Next time I want stupid attempts at satire, I guess I'll have to add the Washington Post to my reading list. How is it that a respected news organization employs such an obvious hack. Do you actually pay this guy?

This sort of juvenile garbage has no place at the Washington Post.

Posted by: James Orleans | December 4, 2007 10:58 AM

If you are a Democrat and have any sense of morality and justice, you should vote for Dennis Kucinich. If you are a republican and have any sense of morality and justice, you should vote for Ron Paul. Given the poll numbers for Kucinich and Paul, it shows that most voters are either morons or have no sense of morality and justice. And this is generally consistent with data showing public education in America lags considerably behind most advanced nations, and the fact that Paris Hilton's sex video receives more attention than the number of civilian deaths in Iraq. And by the way, an excellent assessment of candidates positions on Iran. Oh sorry, Iraq. That is so confusing... How could two countries be different in just one letter? That is so un-cool.

Posted by: Tom | December 4, 2007 9:03 AM

So the NFL really is behind our going to Iraq and staying there. Now that is surprising at first glance but it does make sense if you think about it. The NFL is just another oligarchy bent on manipulating the masses and conning them out of their money. Bread and circuses to keep us from dealing with the train bearing down on us. Yep it makes sense. Only one solution: CANCEL the SUPERBOWL. It is so very unimportant and the money can be used to finance another surge after we increase taxes and elect a few more Democrats to lead us out of the Cheney "quagmire". Oh right we already tried electing more Democrats and we are still in Iraq and heading for Iran. Those darn NFL oligarchs are everywhere. What to do? What to do?

Posted by: DenisL | December 4, 2007 5:55 AM

You call Ron Paul gutless. How is standing up for what one beleives is right in face of all of the adversity and opositon make him gutless? I think it shows true character and courage. He is the leader of liberty and the champion of the constitution! Find out for your self at

Posted by: Landon | December 4, 2007 5:53 AM

From this distant perspective (the land of Oz!) the only principled, ethical, rational person in relation to Iraq is Ron Paul.

Posted by: Ray S | December 4, 2007 5:09 AM

Ron Paul is the only candidate to have consistently opposed the war. To misrepresent or trivialize that fact is a disservice to our country and our troops. If you are trying to be 'funny' or witty', choose a subject where Americans are not dying and being maimed by the thousands. My son-in-law is in the Middle East right now in the Air force, and neither he nor his family find amusement in utilizing such a serious subject as a laugh pinata.

Posted by: xtrabiggg | December 4, 2007 2:57 AM

It is possible that Senator Clinton is the best candidate. However, even though many may like the policies that Senator Clinton proposes, they should also consider her record, just as Senator Clinton insists.
The last Clinton Administration, when faced with the fact that protection rackets where assaulting, torturing and murdering people with poison and radiation, chose to avoid its responsibilities to incarcerate the criminals and to protect the citizenry.
Instead, they made a deal with the criminal gang stalker protection rackets to leave them alone and to consequently abandon the citizenry.
Do we want a President who sells out the citizenry for votes?
Do we want a President who sends a "crime does pay" message to society?
Would you vote for a President who signed nonaggression deals with the KKKlan or the Nazi party? Gangs that torture with poison and radiation are much like the KKKlan and Nazi Party.
We do not need a sellout President. We need a principled leader President.
If you are one of the few who do not know what the above refers to, do a web search for "gang stalking" to see the tip of the dirtberg. Please do it before you decide to reply to my post. Here let me make it easy for you:

Posted by: avraam jack | December 4, 2007 2:23 AM

So, There is no Nasco Hwy in plans? The transtexascorridor is a myth? People aren't losing their homes in Texas for this imaginary project huh? What, might I ask, are they losing their homes for? Has the entire Texas legislature been tripping on lsd? Why did they pass a law to freeze progress on a nonexistent road. Also, considering in the same article that "debunks" the superhighway "myth" tells us that there is a superhighway under developement, but that the highway commission has nothing to do with it. What are they getting paid for? Shouldn't they have at least given permission for this?

Posted by: Jeff | December 4, 2007 2:01 AM

Hmmm. I'll take Ron Paul for 500.

Posted by: polomertz | December 4, 2007 1:46 AM

This article is a discrace to America and what we stand for do you have no shame sir?

Why don't you just print the truth about this and what the candidates actually believe.

I can not believe you are paid by the WSJ and i will be forwarding a letter to the publisher as well.

Good day sir

Posted by: steve | December 4, 2007 1:45 AM

The people trivializing Iraq are the candidates. That's his point.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw | December 4, 2007 1:34 AM

Here are my questions Mr Martinez:
1. What is the point of your columns?
2. Do you feel no shame trivializing politics to this extent when uncounted hundreds of thousands have been killed and maimed in Iraq.

Posted by: Wapo | December 4, 2007 12:32 AM

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