With the New Year now upon us, many Americans might have hoped that the nine Ringwraiths running for president had made at least one New Year’s resolution: to begin to act like leaders who actually know how and want to be U.S. President, not Freshman class president. But, alas, little — actually nothing — has changed.
Seven of the Nine were in Johnston, Iowa, (just outside of Des Moines) for a Democratic debate sponsored by the Des Moines Register (Wes Clark and Al Sharpton skipped it). The great thing about these debates is that the more the Left talks, the easier the job of pointing out their faults becomes for the Right.
Some threshold for U.S. leadership
PAUL ANGER (MODERATOR): Senator Kerry, looking ahead now, under what conditions would you support, future conditions, a pre-emptive military strike against another nation without wide international approval?
SEN. JOHN KERRY (MASS.): Only when the United States of America is so threatened that it is required for the survival of our country or for the accomplishment of some extraordinary humanitarian goal.
Number of terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9-11-01: Zero
KERRY: Look, this administration, Paul, misled the American people, abused the power that they were given, and has run an ineffective war on terror.
FMR. VT. GOV. HOWARD DEAN: Note Senator Lieberman said that we were safer now that Saddam has been caught; I beg to differ.
Read a newspaper. Third-quarter economy was up at an 8.2% annual rate.
FMR. SEN. CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (ILL.): We are going to have to take steps to reverse those trends that are sinking our economy and sinking our ability to create jobs.
Someone still has to pay for it.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Seeing to it that every American has health care is not only a way to solve a social problem, but also a way to take the costs of health care off of the back of our productive sector, our manufacturers, our small businesses, so that we can create jobs here at home.
Hey, when Social Security goes bankrupt, we’ll just blame it on the GOP anyway.
ANGER: Senator Kerry, there are many senior citizens in distress in rural America, as well as in our cities. What have you done to protect and improve Social Security, and what more should be done?
KERRY: . . . I will never privatize Social Security. I will never try to extend the retirement age for Social Security. And I will not cut any benefits for Social Security.
Edwards Administration: Spend more, tax more. Typical
ANGER: Senator Edwards, back to you. Considering the growing federal deficit, what is the earliest that Americans can expect a balanced budget under your administration, and how would you do it?
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (S.C.): That’s a question — if somebody gives you a straight answer to that question, you can’t trust it because here is the reality. The reality is, everybody on this stage is talking about spending money. They’re talking about spending money on education. They’re talking, in varying degrees, about spending money on health care. In my case, I’m talking about helping middle-class families be able to buy a house, be able to invest, be able to save. All that costs money.
There is a tension between spending money and reducing the federal deficit. We should be straight with people about that.
[???] Here is what I believe I can do. I can pay for everything that I have proposed by stopping Bush’s tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year; doing something I don’t think anyone else up here does, raise the capital gains rate for those who make over $300,000 a year; close four corporate loopholes. Pays for everything that I want to do, plus reduces the federal deficit.
He’ll repeal the non-existing tax cuts?
DEAN: Middle-class people did not see a tax cut. There was no middle-class tax cut. There was a Bush tax increase with tuitions, with property taxes, with health care premiums, and most middle-class people in this country are worse off because of President Bush’s so-called tax cut than they are better off.
Hey, why is the audience laughing?
DEAN: I am going to balance the budget, and I’m going to do it in the sixth or seventh year of my administration.
Kind of like Democrats did with HillaryCare during the “Clinton-economy” you constantly brag about?
GEPHARDT: [W]e’re never going to solve the economic problems of this country until we solve the health-care problem.
No, it looks like fighting Socialists ought to be Number One.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (OHIO): It’s time to take health care as a number-one domestic priority. And as president of the United States, I’ll lead this country to create a system where we have universal single-payer health care for all.
Can’t forget to throw this one in there.
DEAN: What has happened to so many Democrats in Congress is that they’ve been co-opted by the agenda of George Bush, who came into office with 500,000 fewer votes than Al Gore.
Bush also plotted the 9-11 attacks, mailed the Anthrax letters, and captured Osama bin Laden back in June???
GEPHARDT: [The Bush Administration] tried to put more arsenic in the water.
Clinton’s early budgets actually had $200 billion deficits as far as the eye could see.
MOSELEY BRAUN: [W]e don’t have to have deficits as a matter of course. They’re not a fact of life . . . And any administration that comes in without an objective of saying, “We’re going to get rid of these budget deficits,” as Bill Clinton did — he got rid of the deficits. . .
You mean like the Labor Unions?
GEPHARDT: I have worked my entire career in politics to lessen the power of special interests in this country.
And to get the MTV vote? Piercings.
MICHELE NORRIS (PANELIST): Senator, how do you plan to broaden the base and reach out to those voters, particularly Southern white voters who no longer even consider Democratic candidates?
KERRY: And in the end, if I’m the nominee, I could always pick a running mate from the South. . . .
Did you know John Kerry served in Vietnam?
KERRY: I am a veteran. I’ve fought in a war. They particularly respect service to country in the South.
KERRY: Sitting in this audience is a young man from — I’d still call him young — from Ames, Iowa. He was a gunner in the back of my boat. He’s an electrician today, a union member. But he’s one of my best friends, as are all the members of my crew from Vietnam.
KERRY: I have one message for [President Bush]: I know something about aircraft carriers for real.
Bush is the baddest, worstest president . . . ever.
GEPHARDT: And it’s why I’ve said many times that his foreign policy is a miserable failure.
MOSELEY BRAUN: [George Bush is] the worst environmental president we’ve ever had. The worst president on the economy, in terms of jobs, 6 million jobs lost. They haven’t been recreated. The worst on issues of bringing us together as a community.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (CONN.): The fact is that George W. Bush has been the worst environmental president in our history.