John McCain

That's My Kooch!

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Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who won votes and love in relatively equal amounts back in 2004, is making a second run for the White House. This is a source of amusement to many. Kathryn Lopez:

Kucinich and his Dept. of Peace will have another go at the White House.

Oliver Willis:

Forget Obama, forget Hillary, forget them all… Dennis Kucinich is in the race.

Ann Althouse:

Dennis Kucinich! He's running for president!

Because he's Dennis Kucinich! And he exists! It practically writes itself!

Obviously, Kucinich is personally pretty goofy. (Start with this and keep googling.) But he's only running for president because he voted against the Iraq War and has a prescription for ending the conflict that's brutal in its simplicity: Get the hell out. Stop funding the war. And seriously, guys, get the hell out.

That's the kind of foreign policy frittery that disqualifies Kucinich from a presidential run, right? OK—use the space below to explain why that Iraq solution should be utterly dismissed while John McCain should be taken seriously. Here's Matt Welch:

McCain has been banging the drum from nearly Day One to put more boots on the ground in Iraq. "There are a lot of things that we can do to salvage this," he said on "Meet the Press" on Nov. 12, "but they all require the presence of additional troops." McCain is more inclined to start wars and increase troop levels than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. He has supported every U.S. military intervention of the last two decades, urged both presidents to rattle their sabers louder over North Korea and Iran, lamented the Pentagon's failure to intervene in Darfur and Rwanda and supported a general policy of "rogue state rollback." He's a fan of Roosevelt's Monroe-Doctrine-on-steroids stick-wielding in Latin America. And — like Bush — he thinks too much multilateralism can screw up a perfectly good war.

McCain's considered the man most likely to become the 44th president, and if you inverted Kucinich's ideas and said "come up with something just as stupid," you'd come up to something close to the McCain doctrine. Kucinich is a ridiculous character, but debating him is the price the two parties' leaders have to pay for being completely unserious about Iraq.

NEXT: Demon Rum(my)

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  1. “Kucinich is a ridiculous character, but debating him is the price the two parties’ leaders have to pay for being completely unserious about Iraq.”

    Well Dave, what exactly is being serious about Iraq in your view besides just leaving? IF that is your opinion, the why is Kucinich such a rediculous character then? You have three choices in Iraq, leave, hang in there as it currently stands and say fuck them we can absorb more casualties then they can, or flood the place with troops and knock the living crap out them. I don’t see any other options. You can live in Baker land where somehow Iran and Syria are going to come to our rescue, but that sounds anything but serious to me.

  2. John, if you click on the link where Weigel says “Start with this,” you’ll see exactly what makes Kucinich such a ridiculous character.

    And being serious about Iraq begins by having a position that doesn’t add up to “more of the same.”

  3. “And being serious about Iraq begins by having a position that doesn’t add up to “more of the same.”

    Well Brian wave your magic wand and tell us all about those serious positions. Perhaps you and Weigel could put your heads together. I suppose more of the same in 1917 after three years of unimagined slaughter wasn’t a serious position then either but that of course is what happened and ended up winning the war because there were no other options except defeat. Sometimes there are no good options and all of the smart people in the world are not going to change that.

  4. John – So, if we stick with the plan, we could have a peace in Iraq as meaningful and lasting as the Treaty of Versailles? Sign me up!

  5. John, so your comparison for Iraq is the very poster child for pointless slaughter? You might want to re-think.

    But yes, in 1917, when the two sides were taking hundreds of thousands of casualties in exchange for a mile or two of territory at a time, I would say “more of the same” would have been an extremely unserious position.

  6. How is McCain not being serious on Iraq. He is very serious about what he thinks needs to be done. Much more than the ISG and their wishful UN style thinking. Kucinich is a joke as is anyone who says cut off the funding and leave. How many americans will die in such a hasty retreat and what about the regional war that may develop if the US hastily leaves the region. Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia all have the potential of getting into a regional war where millions die and oil becomes very scare and a worldwide depression occurs due to $200 oil.

  7. Brian,

    That is the point. The situation was a very difficult one. The reason why I point to 1917 is that it is an extreme illustration of how sometimes there are no good options and sometimes lousy circumstances can’t be cured. The allies in 1917 were facing a high competetant technologically advanced enemy that wasnt’ going to quit and held the better part of France on the ground of its choosing. For all the whining about lambs to slaughter and the incompetance of the allied leadership, the fact was that more of the same was the only option available besides defeat. There is nothing to say that that might not be the case today in Iraq. The choice might be hang in there until the enemy realizes you are never going to quit and quits or runs out of people or admit defeat and go home with all that entails. In that situation, more of the same is not an unserious position. Pretending that there is a good sollution via some diplomatic magic trick is the unserious position.

  8. Far as ah can see, there’s only two reasons for a gov-mint. Buildin’ roads and killin’ foreigners. If you’re not willing to do both, that kind of disqualifies you in mah mind….

  9. Have you ever noticed the creepy physical resemblance of Kucinich, born in Ohio in 1946, to another vegetarian socialist, from Germany who died in 1945?

    Creepy. Makes you wonder.

    Reincarnation, wheel of Karma?…

  10. Ahem, I weighed in on this bright and early this morning at Pudge’s journal.

    Looks like /. scoops Reason AND National Review in one swipe!

  11. John,

    So, basically, you take the “ol’ punching bag” route? Just hang in there, continue to pour money and souls down the drain, and “wait it out” until the other boxer gets tired and falls down from exhaustion? Meanwhile, it’s completely unknowable how long it will take for said exhaustion to come to fruition, and how many more American lives and dollars will be spent during this “waiting period”. We could be there for another ten years, acting as a punching bag for insurgents and terrorists and anyone else who doesn’t like our presence.

    Where your argument fundamentally fails (even if you look past the moral questionability of leaving our troops there as punching bags or flypaper for terrorists) is that this enemy is not like a standing army from a sovereign nation…and while some of them may “tire out” after a long a protracted fight, our continued presence also works in the other direction, by acting as a recruiting tool for new terrorists and fighters of the occupancy.

    I don’t think anyone is proposing “diplomatic magic tricks”, but at the same time, acting as a punching bag for an enemy that has a seemingly endless supply of new recruits, and banking on the assumption that, sooner or later, they’ll get tired and go home, is about as unserious a position as there is right now. You can posit it against all kinds of abstract war theory, you can compare it to past wars, but at the end of the day, it’s just not serious, and it’s not morally justified either.

  12. I’m not a fan of retreating, nor do I support Kucinich, but I do support his candidacy for president, if only to force the chameleons in Congress to take their fingers out of the wind and actually take a real, serious position on the war.

    Most Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans are simply trying to stay on the right side of the polls, meaning that — a la John Kerry — they have to flip their positions every few months. Forcing them to actually take a definite stand will be refreshing.

  13. Kucinich is a ridiculous character…

    The provided link goes to a blog post by Elizabeth Kucinich, Dennis’s wife. So, Dennis is personally pretty goofy because of his flaky wife?

  14. I still can’t believe that socialist freakshow keeps getting elected in the People’s Republic of Cuyahoga County. Do people really think he’s going to bring the steel manufacturers back? Talk about your gerrymandered district…

    Not that the my land of The People’s Republic of Summit County is a whole lot better, mind you. But at least Dandy Don, Monarch of Akron understands that rubber probably ain’t coming back, thus the investment meetings with Israeli medical firms and Chinese bigwigs and the emphasis on polymers, which actually have a future.

  15. He’s pretty flaky for allowing her to put something like that on a campaign website.

  16. Fish,

    I don’t suppose you have the “pleasure” of living in general proximity to his district and thus his whacknuttery.

    Kucinich is most definitely “pretty goofy” on his own merit.

  17. tomWright:

    I’m just going to issue you a warning this time, since you didn’t mention the man or his party by name. Let’s not have to shut this thread down.

  18. Kucinich is a ridiculous character, but debating him is the price the two parties’ leaders have to pay for being completely unserious about Iraq.

    Why would any of the serious candidates of either major party believe that they have to debate him? Politically, he’s a sideshow freak.

  19. John: the alternative in 1917 wasn’t “more of the same.” They had a significant change in the strategic situation, in the form of millions of fresh troops from a powerful new ally. Historical parallels don’t compare exactly but, even so, this is not a good example.

    Right now, everyone seems to acknowledge that things aren’t getting better. McCain is free to call for sending more troops because there are no more troops to send. Whistling up imaginary reserves is nuttery, pure and simple. It’s pretty clear we’re going to have to leave eventually and things aren’t getting any better in the meantime, so…what are we waiting around for? This is Kucinich’s question and I think it’s a damned good one.

  20. Godwin’s Cop:

    It was not an accusation, it was an observation. Compare pictures of the two, go ahead. I’m just sayin’….

    Oh, and so far as threatening me with police abuse, I’m gonna tell Balko on you!

  21. Why would any of the serious candidates of either major party believe that they have to debate him? Politically, he’s a sideshow freak.

    Because a significant portion of the Democrat party base supports his position on Iraq.

    The Democrat party used the Iraq war in the last election as a convenient cudgel to bash Bush and gin up support, but they really don’t have any intentions of dropping everything and running out of Iraq anytime soon (see Webb, James). It’s political hypocrisy of the highest order; playing games with national security in a time of war.

    A Kucinich candidacy gives the soon-to-be-disappointed Democrat base a voice in the debate. It’s not surprising most Democrats wouldn’t want to hear it.

  22. I consider it a minor victory for seriousness at least that I haven’t heard anyone talk about Arabs and “speaking to them in a language they understand” recently.

    But the more troops angle seems to be something that will be perpetually pitched by people who have no influence whatsoever and won’t suffer any consequences for saying inane things about the war. As if American soldiers patrolled the streets of Baghdad 20% more often the situation would drastically change. Until the war ends, we can be confident that people with no idea how to solve the political problems in Iraq will propose more troops / negotiations with Iran and Syria that will make internal Iraqi ethnic conflict magically disappear / different military strategies / flavor of the week without any reasoning behind how it will improve the political situation.

  23. Regarding WWI vs Iraq:
    There is a massive difference between Iraq and the conflicts of late 1917. We were bogged down in the trenches in France not Germany. Germany was still sending state sponsored soldiers at us, not women or children. We were evenly matched in firepower with Germany. We had a goal, to drive the Germans back to German soil. This would be analagous with Desert Storm, a war with an attainable goal. Even during WWII, the German government was our enemy, not the German people. When we finally took Berlin and Hitler was dead, the war was over.

    Iraq is different. The head of state is in prison, due to be executed. The offical military is long disbanded. Yet we fight on. In Iraq we are attempting to destroy an enemy on thier own soil, without really being able to identify who they are, men, women or children and nobody wears a uniform. We outnumber and out firepower them yet they keep coming. They are not trying to expand thier territories as Germany was, they are trying to get us out of thier country and region. As long as we are there they will continue to fight unless the citizens of Iraq turn against them. This was the whole idea of winning hearts and minds remember, but we see how that has worked out.

    Sure, we could send more troops to Iraq. We could pull out of Afghanistan. We could reinstate the draft. We could do lots of things to increase the troop presence on the ground but until you can identify your enemy precisely, you can’t fight him. The more innocent civilians that are killed in this conflict by US soldiers the more likely the population is to support the insurgency and we don’t have the manpower, nor the moral highground to kill all 26 million Iraqis.

  24. Most Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans are simply trying to stay on the right side of the polls, meaning that — a la John Kerry — they have to flip their positions every few months. Forcing them to actually take a definite stand will be refreshing.
    I have to agree here. Any candidate that is willing to call the incumbents on thier shit has my respect, regardless of his positions. Hell, I’d even voice profound respect for Darth Nader right now if he forced the major parties to stick to thier guns. Still wouldn’t vote for him, but he’d have my respect.

  25. “McCain’s considered the man most likely to become the 44th president”

    Sorry, my money’s on Giuliani.

  26. DumbFish,
    If Kucinich had the sense to keep that bimbo’s astrologit nonsense off of his OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN SITE, then you might be able to make the point that he’s not necessarily a woo-woo, just because the dumb broad he’s married to is one.

    -jcr

  27. “Stassen, Harold (1907-2001), American political leader known chiefly for his persistent and futile pursuit of the office of president. Under Eisenhower, he served as assistant to the president on disarmament. Later he drew on these experiences to write Eisenhower: Turning toward World Peace (1990).”

  28. Sure, the candidate’s wife writing a nutty screed doesn’t mean the candidate shares all her views, but (a) it’s on his campaign website, and (b) surely if you marry a nut I’m entitled to draw a few conclusions about your sanity.

    John, to continue doing the same things and expect different results has often been cited as the definition of insanity. Personally, I was strongly in favor of drastically increasing our troop levels all through the first year after Saddam was deposed, but frankly, it’s too late now. The US has lost all credibility as an independent arbiter and an enforcer in Iraq. We’ve managed to create another Mogadishu, bully for us. We need to withdraw and deal with the consequences. Maybe we can redirect some of our forces to Afghanistan, before we lose that one too.

    Nobody is proposing “simple” solutions, including Kucinich. Withdrawing from Iraq will be extremely difficult. We will have to eat a lot of crow, certainly, and we will have to shore up the government and military as best we can on the way out. To continue what we are doing is just a way of avoiding the difficult, and inevitable, decisions of how to extract ourselves.

  29. A Kucinich candidacy gives the soon-to-be-disappointed Democrat base a voice in the debate. It’s not surprising most Democrats wouldn’t want to hear it.

    Too many screws loose for the Kos Kids to touch him with a 20′ pole, methinks. You’ll get a few Democracy Now! types out there shilling for him, but I suspect that Pelosi & Co. would desperately like those people to go away over the next couple of years.

    Besides, there are plenty of mainstream Dems who will make basically the same pitch over the next couple of years, if Bush doesn’t start drawing things down. I’ve long predicted that the last garrison would symbolically “leave” Iraq somewhere around, oh, October 2008, but one never knows with Bush & Friends.

  30. Trust me, The Former Boy Mayor is a certifiable loon.

  31. Kucinich is nothing more than ego fueled headline grabber and that is a direct quote from a former Dem Hill staffer who worked for an Ohio member I knew. Anyone who would seriously considering for the office either knows nothing of his actual governing experience, Cleveland really did well in the 70s thanks to him *sarcasim*, or his legislative victories in the House (ummm none).

    Even bothing to give him this blog post gives him the one thing he always wants most, people to be talking about him.

  32. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned that he was voted the seventh worst American mayor of all time in The American Mayor: The Best & The Worst Big-City Leaders by Melvin G. Holli, or his bill to ban space-based mind control weapons (among others, admittedly).

  33. Kucinich will be President when rivers can burn.

    Ooops.

  34. Ed – so, in the 70s?

  35. Besides, there are plenty of mainstream Dems who will make basically the same pitch over the next couple of years, if Bush doesn’t start drawing things down.

    Yes, but are they sincere about it? Because, since they’re now the party who controls Congress, people are going to start expecting them to actually do what they promise to do.

    In reality, the Democrats peaked too early: It would have been better for them to sweep to power in 2008, not 2006. Now for the next two years they have to please their base yet not alienate the rest of the country, in order to have a chance at taking the White House in ’08.

    I don’t think they’ll be able to do it. And Kucinich’s candidacy, as loopy as he may be, will make it much more difficult for them to play both sides of the war issue.

  36. I concede that allowing that quote on his campaign page could be looked at as an endorsement. But I think it at least questionable policy to link to a quote from another individual to determine personal craziness.

    I initially thought that Weigel was under the impression that the quote was from Dennis himself. He probably was just suggesting the crazy by association angle.

    Now as far as whether or not Dennis is sane for marrying her: I’d say that as a pig’s personality goes a long way to excusing it for being a filthy animal; his wife’s beauty goes a long way to making up for her being a flakey, new age, mystical, Ying-Yang.

  37. his wife’s beauty goes a long way to making up for her being a flakey, new age, mystical, Ying-Yang.
    So, what explains why people listen to Pat Roberts? I’m sorry, but you can’t put enough lipstick on that pig to make him sane.

  38. FWIW, Kucinich, like Nader had strong support in Seattle. I still see Volvo’s with Kucinich stickers on them.

  39. Ruthless

    Not fair to Stassen, who at least had a reasonable shot at it in 1948.

    Otherwise, the comparison will only be apt if Kunicich runs every 4 years from now though 2024.

  40. Kucinich is definitely a very wacky guy. Here is a quote from Kucinich that I remember from the last presidential election — makes you wonder if he might endorse the “strong gaia” hypothesis or something.

    “The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite, and we begin: One with the universe. Whole and holy. From one source, endless creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental. We, the earth, air, water, and fire source of nearly 15 billion years of cosmic spiraling.”

    Found it on Wikepedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Kucinich

  41. So, what explains why people listen to Pat Roberts?

    His surprisingly impressive physique.

  42. Kucinich bill to establish a Department of Peace and Nonviolence:

    http://tinyurl.com/y7lelo

  43. Fish,

    As others have pointed out, Kucinich doesn’t need his granola starchild wife to show that he’s a nutjob. He has done a fine job of that himself over the years.

    Plus, he was the first mayor to cause a major city to default.

  44. In 1917, the Allies opted for “more of the same.” The results?

    1) The Nivelle offensive cost 100,000 French casualties, gained nothing and sparked a massive mutiny that came close to destroying the French Army;

    2) The British under Haig threw away 300,000 men at Passchendaele and fought themselves to complete exhaustion;

    3) The Czarist monarchy in Russia collapsed, Kerensky mounted a doomed offensive and was overthrown in turn by the Bolsheviks, who ended up suing for peace with Germany.

    The Allies came damn close to losing the war in 1917, and only the arrival of the American Army in 1918 saved them from utter exhaustion and defeat after a massive German offensive that spring. So, if we’re going to use the WWI analogy in Iraq, more of the same doesn’t look real encouraging. Whose doughboys are going to ride to the rescue in Iraq?

  45. Yeah, Kucinich is a “freak” in the way the boy who said the emporer has no clothes is a freak.

    Before the war, before the invasion, when Democratic cowards were supporting the war, Kucinich called it like it was.

    On Sep. 3, 2002, on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Dennis Kucinich said, “I don’t think there’s any justification to go to war with Iraq. There’s no evidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. There’s no… there’s nothing that says that they have the ability to deliver such weapons, if they did have them. There’s been no stated intention on their part to harm the United States.”

    On Sep. 4, 2002, on Buchanan and Press, Buchanan asked “Congressman Kucinich, does not the President have a clear, factual point here? Saddam Hussein is developing these weapons of mass destruction, he agreed to get rid of them, he has not gotten rid of them. Kucinich replied: “Well, frankly we haven’t seen evidence or proof of that, and furthermore we haven’t seen evidence or proof that he has the ability to deliver such weapons if he has them, and finally, whether or not he has the intent. I think that what we need to be doing is to review this passion for war, that drumbeat for war, that’s coming out of the White House, and to slow down and to let calmer heads prevail and to pursue diplomacy..”

    On Sep. 7, 2002, Dennis Kucinich gave a speech in Baraboo, Wisconsin, called “Architects of New Worlds,” in which he said “There’s no evidence Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or the ability to deliver such weapons if it had them or the intention to do so. There is no reason for war against Iraq. Stop the drumbeat. Stop the war talk. Pull back from the abyss of unilateral action and preemptive strikes.” See: http://web.archive.org/web/20040606014045/http://www.house.gov/kucinich/press/sp-020907-newworlds.htm

    For more information: http://web.archive.org/web/20040606014045/http://www.kucinich.us/

    http://web.archive.org/web/20040606014045/www.kucinich.us/pressreleases/pr_012504.php

  46. “So, if we’re going to use the WWI analogy in Iraq, more of the same doesn’t look real encouraging.”

    I think John’s point is that by 1917 centuries of imperialistic rot had sowed the ground for the very bad to happen, and that there was a good chance that no actions could have been taken to avoid it.

    I think that’s the only useful paralell to the current situation (since unlike in WWI the US is able to win any military battle it gets involved in), in that the very bad happening is a significant possibility in the middle east.

    Now you can argue whether the US simply exacerbated things by going into Iraq or merely failed to improve things any, but Iraq circa 2001 was not really a stable situation one way or the other, particularly if you considered the US invasion of Afghanistan as a given.

    So a _serious_ analysis does at least consider “staying the course” as one possible alternative only because, while bad, it’s certainly possible the alternatives are worse. Now I don’t think it is a good idea, but a serious analysis at least looks at it and tries to weigh the pros and cons.

    Foreign policy is really freakin’ hard which is one of the really good reasons why libertarians have tended to want to try and stay out of the many problems that rage outside our borders. But you can’t simply unring a bell and we _are_ involved so the question becomes doing the difficult calculus to determine how best to negotiate through is.

    Complete withdrawal may be the best solution (I think so), but thinking it to be a decision that doesn’t have substantial risks and costs is naiive. As it stands now, there’s good arguments to suggest that pulling out of Iraq and back into Kuwait in early 1991 has been quite costly.

    As for Kucinich, unless he plans on taking up arms and staging a violent overthrow of the federal government, is there any reason to pay attention to him at all? I mean a guy who suggests we shouldn’t ban trans fats because they cure both cancer and Alzheimer’s is correct in that we shouldn’t ban trans fats, but that doesn’t mean we should start taking policy cues from him on the issue.

  47. Jim,

    Blind (and batshit insane) squirrels find nuts on occasion, too.

  48. All the serious people are as down on Kucininch now as they were back in ought-two, when he was saying that there was no WMD threat in Iraq, that they had no relationship with bin Laden, and that an invasion would create a mass slaughter and destabilize the region rather than producing a stable democracy that would transform the Muslim world. No, no, that was crazy talk, and all the serious people knew it.

    Dennis Kucinich is worth listening to, and the people who brought about this war are not.

  49. Dennis Kucinich is worth listening to

    Arguably – but is he worth voting for?

  50. Eric,

    Hell, no! But he’s moving the conversation in a postive direction, and that’s all he’s going for.

    Personally, I think we need a Department of Love. Or better yet, a Department of Wuv.

  51. Hell, no! But he’s moving the conversation in a postive direction

    Is he, or is he just a loon that happens to be saying something that’s true? Considering nobody, not even you, appears to take him seriously, it really doesn’t look to me like he’s moving any conversation.

  52. Have you ever noticed the creepy physical resemblance of Kucinich, born in Ohio in 1946, to another vegetarian socialist, from Germany who died in 1945?

    No. Though I have noted the creepy verbal resemblance of that comment to that of another complete tool.

    Amusing, though to see the Reason peanut gallery’s collective ass-clench at Mrs K’s new-agey stuff. I’m guessing y’all haven’t read that much Thomas Paine, because I could easily blind-quote you some of his stuff that you’d knee-jerk dismiss as granola.

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