Posted by TheCrossedPond @ 4:24 pm on December 19th 2007

The Crossed Pond Endorses (2008 Democratic Primary)…

After much internal debate, we at The Crossed Pond have decided to follow the tradition of more mainstream sites for political opinion (the op-ed page of most newspapers) and go on record with our endorsement(s) for President. These endorsements are meant to convey not a final word or our becoming any kind of “official” site behind any given presidential candidate, but simply for us to go more formally on record with our thoughts on the upcoming Presidential primaries. Rather than dance around our own opinions, or make some artificially thinly-veiled attempt at pretending to be neutral, we hope that these endorsements both gives you some insight into where our writers are coming from, and perhaps the cases that follow will influence or clarify your own thinking on the current political races (one way or another).

We are, of course, a group blog, with six authors, and though our internal straw poll was surprisingly homogeneous (5 of our 6 authors had exactly the same Top Two choices, in different orders), some of us differ on which is their top choice and which is their second. We’ve no interest in drowning out our own variety of opinion, so to that end, you’ll note that we make, for each party, two endorsements, each signed by appropriate authors. For both parties, the split was 4-2, so the first endorsement is backed by four authors (whose names are appended at the bottom of the endorsement), the second by two (also signed), and it just so happened that we all agreed on the final segment (Anybody But…) for each party.

So, what follows are three segments for the Democratic party (the Republican endorsements can be found here). Two endorsements, and one expression of particular distaste for one specific candidate (an anti-endorsement, as it were). I can’t promise that below contains any great surprises to regular readers, who would probably already be well aware of our own leanings and opinions, but it has proven to be an interesting exercise for us authors here at The Pond, and we hope proves interesting and thought-provoking reading.

The Crossed Pond Endorses Barack Obama for the Democratic Presidential Nomination

By Any Measure

By what method shall you choose your next president? Will you examine the individual policies endorsed and supported by each candidate, seeking the clearest and most consistent match to your own views? Will you assess the character, integrity, and personality of each potential nominee, looking for the one who most demonstrates those traits desirable in the executive office? Or will you, with high skepticism, assess which person is most suited, at this point in history, given the particular nature of our world, for the Presidency? By any measure, but particularly the last two, we at The Crossed Pond believe Barack Obama is the best candidate amongst the Democratic contenders.

Senator Obama will end this senseless war and occupation of Iraq in a reasonable time frame. With regard to Iran, he recognizes the false dichotomy offered by his competition in both parties: we do not need to choose between capitulation and bombardment. Contrary to the neo-conservative fantasy of an insane rogue nation lead by the Mad Mullahs, Obama clearly understands that Iran is a rational, if aggressive and totalitarian, actor on the world stage seeking greater regional influence. He will pursue national security policies that do not depend upon reactionary forever war, but include elements of multi-lateral cooperation and diplomacy. Senator Obama will end the practice of torture, both in our own facilities and through outsourcing via extraordinary rendition. He will reinstate the rule of law and respect for civil liberties by ensuring that habeas corpus is reaffirmed as a fundamental principal and that wire tapping has proper court oversight.

Although we find little difference between Barack Obama and his competition in many traditional areas of Democratic Party policy, particularly in health care proposals and entitlement reform, in foreign policy and civil liberties we find superior understanding and proposals from the Obama camp. Certainly, he is not alone in his principled opposition to torture and the Iraq War; Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd’s definitive stands are honorable positions that also separate them from the field. But in Barack Obama, we have a candidate with superior views without some of the extensive progressive baggage of Chris Dodd, or the fringe element proposals of Dennis Kucinich. And we freely admit that electability played a role in our decision. Who in the field can truly challenge the supposed inevitability of Senator Clinton? If nominated, who in the field could handily defeat the unfortunately popular worshipper of centralized authority, Rudy Giuliani?

We are not ignorant of his flaws. As a group we range from disaffected Goldwater-style conservatives to libertarians, hardly the base to which Senator Obama would normally appeal, and we do find fault in his fiscal and economic views. But clearly, the most frequently sited criticism of Senator Obama’s presidential bid is his lack of experience. Even among those who ideologically might be inclined to support his candidacy, many question the wisdom of electing a man with so short a time in public office. First, we question the legitimacy of the charge itself. By the time Barack Obama takes the Presidential oath of office, he will have served eight years as a state senator, four years as a US senator, and multiple years as a local community organizer, a practicing civil rights lawyer and a teacher of constitutional law. Granted, he has never been a First Lady, but his credentials are solid. He has, for instance, more experience than the one term senator from North Carolina.

But more important than arguments concerning the merit of his supposedly limited time in elected office: We are convinced that judgment trumps experience, and principals are preferable to mere participation. In nearly every imaginable case, Obama has demonstrated far superior wisdom and foresight than the other democratic frontrunners, Hillary Clinton in particular. Unlike Hillary, he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. His skepticism of the Iranian nuclear threat has proven prescient. Senator Obama’s judgment reflects a character given to careful consideration, introspection, and openness. His campaign, though hardly as pure as new driven snow, remains far more principled and positive than either Clinton or Edwards. Whereas the Clinton campaign repeatedly has resorted to the lowest of all possible smear tactics; distributing known lies about his upbringing (the madrassa stories) and the more recent barely concealed appeal to racism coated as concern for his electability (teenage drug use questions,) whereas the Edwards campaign has nakedly appealed to base populism and fiery rabble rousing, Obama has remained above the fray, relatively serene, positive, open, and uniting. Contrast this with the reflexive secrecy, lack of transparency, and long history of mendacious deceit that are the hallmarks of both our current administration and the Democratic establishment’s favored candidate.

We seek a change. Not a minor change of office between two dynastic families, not a transfer of power from one proponent of centralized executive authority to another, not a casual shift from neo-conservative madness to slightly less aggressive neocon-lite policies, but a wholesale sea change in our national direction. We want a president whose very election will itself signal to our people and the world that we are a nation of rational humans intent on the betterment of mankind. We desire that the next occupant of the oval office represent an open and transparent administration dedicated to rational decisions, respect for civil liberties, external diplomacy, and most of all a clean break with the destructive policies of the past eight years. Such a change will not come from returning the Clintons to power. It will not come from the reactionary populism of John Edwards. It will not come from the democratic establishment insider politics and self-reverentialism of Joe Biden. It will certainly not come from the fringe element Naderism of the unelectable Dennis Kucinich. But it will come from Barack Obama. We respect his policies, we welcome his principles, and we endorse him as the right man at the right time.


The Crossed Pond Endorses Chris Dodd for the Democratic Presidential Nomination

Walking the Walk

Every primary season, there seems to be one candidate who, though eminently qualified, with demonstrable leadership skills and possessing a clear voice for his party and a compelling vision for America nevertheless is unable to work up that elusive juju required to break from the pack and emerge into serious contention. To be a real player in presidential politics takes a lot of requisites, but more than anything it requires something close to a perfect storm of luck, narrative, and right-person right-moment serendipity. Sometimes, candidates get lost in the shuffle through no fault of their own. Sometimes, that happens despite the fact that said candidate might in fact be the best in the field.

This season, Chris Dodd is that man.

Barely breaking 1% in the polls, Senator Dodd is probably not frequently in your mind or high on your list. We have to admit such was the case for us as well. Though we’ve written about him fairly extensively, he didn’t immediately spring to mind as anything but another warm body. And yet with each passing debate, we could not shake the sense that most everything he said was not just right, and important, but to the core of the matter on which he was speaking. While the other candidates provided milquetoast soundbytes on Iraq, on torture, on health care and immigration, soundbytes that often said a lot but meant little, Chris Dodd was always there to play the role of the principled statesman in the room.

And the more we looked, the more we saw a candidacy that is difficult to dismiss, if difficult to notice. A quick scan at his bio reveals as impressive a figure as anyone running. His foreign policy cred is extensive, broad, and hands-on, and includes roles in the Good Friday peace accords in Northern Ireland, diffusing conflicts in Latin America, being the chairman of the U.S. delegation to Mexico, and as the senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is the only Democratic candidate running to have served in the military, and certainly the only candidate in either party that served in both the Armed Forces and the Peace Corps (a fascinating combination), where he picked up his fluency in Spanish building schools and clinics in the Dominican Republic, an experience that was obviously crucial in shaping his politics over the years.

While “Senatorial” is often a pejorative adjective in relation to a Presidential candidate, Dodd belongs more to the tradition of Ed Muskie, Mike Mansfield, Bob Dole, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, which is to say he’s neither a demagogue nor a man interested in mincing words, but above all a man committed to using his position, experience, and skill to get things done. He is one of those rare politicians who seems to desire power chiefly because it allows him to accomplish things, not vice versa.

While we talk about libertarian Democrats a fair bit, Dodd, it should be said, is not one of them. He is a liberal through and through. One of the last liberal lions left in the Senate, Chris Dodd’s particular strength has been on “kitchen table” issues. He is the man responsible for the Family and Medical Leave Act, which took seven years and two presidential vetoes to pass but which he stuck with all the way and got through almost single-handedly, on the sheer force of his tireless advocacy and wrangling. Head Start also has his signature on it, and he takes it as a point of pride the sheer number of bills he has written and passed to use the federal government to help families, women, and workers. He received the endorsement very early from the International Association of Fire Fighters, who, along with veterans, have long considered him a champion for emergency workers, military men, and first responders. He is one of the few Senators with the courage, right or wrong, to favor a Carbon Tax as a way to wean this country to alternative energy sources. He is among the most highly regarded Senators in annual League of Conservation Voters rankings. We could go on (and if you want to, check out his site, far and away the best of any candidate currently running). His liberal cred, to members of the Democratic base, should not be in question.

However, of particular interest to us, he is and has become a surprisingly sharp voice for civil libertarianism. He is among the top tier of Senators in the ACLU’s rankings. He is one of the few Senators to actively favor the decriminalization of marijuana. And what really distinguished Chris Dodd for us, this primary season, has been his unflinching willingness to stick his neck out on the most important issues of our day, something that cannot be said of the Democratic Congress at large, or any of the other Democratic candidates.

Dodd has used his role as presidential candidate not just as a vehicle for personal advancement, but as a soapbox on which he has pushed against some of the biggest injustices of the day. He is the author and primary sponsor of both the Restore Habeas Corpus Act as well as the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007, two of the most important pieces of legislation—and political thought—to come up in the last 10 years of Congress. He was the only Senator of any party to vote against cloture on the last Iraqi funding bill. He refuses categorically to write blank checks to this administration, a position that the more well known Senators running for President often take in rhetoric, but rarely in action.

If you want a prime example of what real Democratic leadership looks like, one need go no further than his filibuster this week on the Bush and Reid backed FISA legislation. Dodd flew back from his family and campaign in Iowa to stand on the Senate floor and, Gandolf-like, not let it pass. He was prepared to go all the way to Christmas Even. And ultimately he succeeded, for now at least, in spite of his own party’s leadership, in spite of the lack of help from the other Senators running for President, in spite of everything, but because of his personal, singular will to do what he thought was right for our country. .

This is what a leader looks like, not just somebody who plays one on T.V.

The other Democratic candidates, and the Democratic caucus in the Senate, have time and time again abdicated their opportunities to find a full-throated oppositional (which is not to say negative) voice in this critical period of our national life. Time and time again Senator Dodd has kept to his word, where other candidates’ proclamations have faded into the ether.

A Chris Dodd presidency, as has been true of his candidacy and his career, would entail not demagoging, but digging in. Not rhetoric, but action. Not abandonment of principles, but compromise built around those principles, or a clear line in the sand when necessary. He would be as unafraid in office to speak truth to the powers of complacency as he has been as a candidate, and a congressman. Even with a majority in Congress, there is no reason to assume that a Democratic president would have all that much success, or in some candidates cases, desire to enact an agenda that rolls back the previous President’s. With Chris Dodd we would have a chief executive with both the will and the ability to steer us onto a new course.

If you want a man of action who knows what damage to our country needs to be undone in the next term, and who has the will and wherewithal to do it, Chris Dodd is your man. If the Democrats are honestly interested in throwing in with experience, political will, and strength, rather than celebrity, hope, or shrillness, Chris Dodd demands their consideration. If voters are less interested in who is leading in the polls or who had the best Today Show appearance, and are more interested in who would make the best President, there’s little question in our mind that Dodd would be far in front. It is for this reason that The Crossed Pond would like you to seriously consider Chris Dodd for President.

As a final note, Dodd also, amusingly, submitted a question to the Republican YouTube debate, asking about the balance of freedom and security, and the constitution. Part of what’s so amusing about it is…darn it if it wasn’t the best submitted question to that debate that we saw.

The Republicans chose to pass on it. Shame. Because both parties—the Democrats AND the Republicans—could learn a thing or two from Chris Dodd.


Anybody But Hillary Clinton

A Woman Scorned

In the film ‘The Matrix’ there is a scene where Neo is in mortal combat with Agent Smith and the latter, having the upper hand, holds the former in a neck lock on a set of subway tracks before an oncoming train. Agent Smith gloats saying, “Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability.”

Well, in the matrix that is the 2008 presidential primary season the word “inevitable” was thrown around a lot, and probably more in reference to the nomination of Hillary Clinton than anyone else. Even Senator Clinton herself intimated that notion in her November 26th interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric. When asked how she would react to not winning the nomination of her party, Hillary replied, “Well, it will be me.”

While the Clinton camp and many staunch supporters rather inadvertently categorized the New York senator’s nomination along with that of death and taxes, the reality on the ground seems to have precipitated on that Hillary parade to the victory podium. Revelations of planted shills asking questions provided by her staff at campaign events, the recurrence of the Clinton/Chinese fund raising wink, and her ludicrous kindergarten level and below-the-belt attacks on Barack Obama for being honest about his past smack of everything from a sense of entitlement to garden variety hubris; all while trying to play the gender card when convenient and the Hair Club for Men card when expedient.

Hillary Clinton will say, do, or be anything necessary to be to get what she wants; and what she wants is more power. Unfortunately for her, recent polling data indicates that her iinevitability’ seems to share the definition offered by Neo’s nemesis, Agent Smith, in that it appears to have taken the form of an oncoming train; one of her own design and one that brings with it her campaign’s doom.

Hillary has clung to the coattails of a philandering man who started thinking about being President of the United States from the day he met John F. Kennedy. Hillary Clinton is no one’s fool, but she should fool no one at this point. She is a woman with great ambition to serve, but that ambition to serve is focused singularly upon Hillary Clinton. Sure she had to deal with the humiliation of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but while she was blaming “A vast right-wing conspiracy” for her husband’s fidelity problems I would bet that she was already formulating her vast Hillary conspiracy. What the Clintons may lack in romance they make up for in quid pro quo and Hillary probably started expecting her “tat” a long time ago. Bill Clinton is a man who knows his options, so why should he not pivot and relinquish the lead in a pas de deux that has always gravitated toward power? With Hillary’s election to the US Senate in 2000, he saw what she saw: the inevitable. So inevitable in fact that not all that long after getting reelected to her Senate seat amid adamant proclamations that she had no intention of running for president in 2008 she announced that she intended to do just that.

So there you have it, the Clinton plan that most warrants one’s trepidation over a Hillary presidency among voters that loathe the self-serving. However, there are more tangible reasons to eschew any notion that this dynamic duo should occupy the White House as a mirrored doppelganger. Regardless of your political leanings it is Hillary Clinton’s nebulous position on any number of issues that should make you tilt your head and squint. Whether you are for the Iraq war or in opposition to it, Clinton’s maneuvering on this issue is at best baffling. In October of 2001 a feisty Senator Clinton addressed the US Senate and railed against Hussein after reading the same intelligence reports as President Bush. She pointed out that Saddam “has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members…”; and adding that “if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”

Likewise, the New York senator has been all over the map regarding that amorphous thing called “The War on Terror”. Again her positioning on this issue has rather transparently been driven by politics rather than conviction. Two days after the 9/11 attacks Senator Clinton stated that “Every nation has to either be with us, or against us. Those who harbor terrorists, or who finance them, are going to pay a price.” Sound familiar?

Hillary Clinton tries to perform a tightrope walk, saying one thing while doing another, as her rhetoric and voting record reveal. She says what she thinks people want to hear and adjusts for every audience and tick of a poll. Hillary Clinton is a fabrication wrought of her own ambition and savvy handlers. She proposes grand plans from universal healthcare to a $5,000 savings bond for every American baby while not offering any estimate of the total cost of such a programs or how she would pay for it. In the case of her “baby bond” idea, one should consider that about four million babies are born each year in the United States. You do the math. Also, would these programs be extended to illegal aliens like the NY drivers licenses, an idea that she was for before she was against it?

At the end of the day and upon careful examination, we think that you will find Hillary Clinton is a Trojan horse filled with personal ambition, a sense of entitlement of almost a royal nature, and a chip-laden shoulder left over from decades of being Mrs. Clinton. She has a vision of an America molded into a socialist state like those she admires in Europe with purse and power centralized in the federal government, but seems to lack any concrete plan to implement or pay for her quest. She is a carpetbagger both literally and figuratively.

Hillary Clinton is and will be whoever or whatever she has to be to sit in the Oval Office. Once there, it is anyone’s guess as to who or what she will be then. If she doesn’t get there, then we would imagine that there will be hell to pay somewhere. We suspect that is the reason that her husband works so tirelessly toward getting her elected; for hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned.


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