Thursday, May 31, 2007

On the greatest issues of the day....

.... campaigns can surprise you. So can blogs. We like to encourage debate here at the Real Sporer. It is especially important to listen to the Dems, there are going to be somewhere between 55 and 60 million of them voting in the next election and we need at least a few of them to win. Moreover, we need a Ronald Reagan or Dwight Eisenhower who can win over whole bunch of them. Tonight I received a very interesting post from our Democrat friend rf. rf is a regular commenter and fairly reasonable. So everyone, give our friend from across the aisle a hard read, he’s done quite a bit of research and read the websites.
Even here in Iowa, it would take a considerable amount of time and effort to go hear the seven leading candidates live. And even then, there is no guarantee they will address the issues that interest you.

Prompted by a discussion with a dear Republican friend, I wanted to learn what the top four Democratic candidates really had to say about some of the greatest issues of the day: Iraq, the war on terror (WOT), homeland security, and foreign policy. To make good use of my limited time, I decided to conduct a virtual candidate tour by visiting the candidates' websites and see what they had to say on their "issues" pages. As I was finished with the Democrats, my curiosity took over and I had to go check the leading three Republican candidates as well.

What I found out surprised me. Here are my impressions and rankings of these seven candidates. I tried to judge the candidates based on the level of detail they provided about their "plans" and views and which of these issues they did cover, not on whether I agreed with the candidate or not. I encourage you all go check out the sites yourself to make your own judgments.


Barack Obama - Overall score: A-
His site has issue tabs for "Strengthening America Overseas," "Plan to End Iraq War" and "Protecting Our Homeland." He is the only candidate that has something meaningful to say about all the issues I was focusing on. He lays out fairly well his overall vision on foreign policy and how he would conduct WOT. With Iraq, he goes beyond just saying that he would pull out, giving some details how it would be done what would happen after withdrawal. With homeland security, he mainly calls for the implementation of the 9-11 Commission recommendations, but he also details some other homeland security issues and priorities.

Bill Richardson - Oveall score: C
Issue tabs for "Iraq" and "Foreign Policy." He gives a fairly detailed explanation of what he would do, beyond just saying that he would pull out. He also spells out well what kind of foreign policy he would pursue. WOT and homeland securities only get passing mentions on the Iraq issue page, mainly stating that our resources should be used on those issues rather than Iraq. That's disappointingly weak.

Hillary Clinton - Score: D
Issue areas contain "Ending the War in Iraq" and "Restoring America's Standing in the World." Hillary's site makes it very clear she would end he war, but offers very little information about what else she would do besides pulling out the troops. There is more focus on what she would not do. Under "Restoring America's Standing in the World" she gives a fairly general, boilerplate foreign policy view. She also lists some things she has done and stances she has taken. On WOT, she says: "As president, she will be tough and smart in combating terrorism." What the heck does that really mean?? Also, I didn't see anything detailed on general homeland security issues. Barely earns a passing grade.

John Edwards - Score: F
He has an issue item "Restoring America's Moral Leadership in the World." This is his only issue item on the topics I was looking at. And it is a one five-sentence paragraph! Talk about highfalutin language and very little substance. While I think his call for restoring our moral leadership in the world represents some of the best bumper-sticker-ready rhetoric I found on these sites, complete lack of substance can in no way earn a passing grade. Kind of breaks my heart as a 2004 Edwards supporter.


John McCain - Score: B-
When you first look at his issues, it looks like he only has an issue tab for "Iraq." You have to go to "On the Issues" sub-tab to find the "National Security" issue page. A definite mistake by his web folks. McCain's Iraq page is titled "Consequences of Failure in Iraq”, not very reassuring or positive. But there is plenty of detail on how he thinks we should conduct the war. On the national security page, he has heavy focus on strong military, with plenty of details. He also outlines his view about how to conduct WOT. I did not see really anything about his broader foreign policy view or more detailed info on non-military homeland security issues.

Mitt Romney - Score: D-
His only issue tab on these issues is "Defeating the Jihadists." The title sounds very tough and Republican. But when he lays out his general view on fighting Islamic extremism, it sounds like what many Democrats are saying. He also has a relatively detailed view, a five-point strategy, on dealing with Iran. Again, sounds a bit like a Democrat talking. (No minuses for the content, though. Just an observation.) But incredibly, not even a mention of Iraq! Also, nothing on other homeland security issues or general view on foreign policy. He gets D- only to differentiate him from Edwards and Giuliani. But I consider it a failing grade nonetheless.

Rudy Giuliani - Score: F
Rudy's very general issue page contains items "Winning the War on Terror” and "Iraq." The "Winning the War on Terror" item is a paragraph of six sentences (short ones). Nothing specific, only general platitudes like "America cannot afford to go back to the days of playing defense... America will win the war on terror." The Iraq item is whopping four sentences, with no details of what he would do. Well, he says he would not set an artificial timetable. - That's all America's Mayor is willing to share with us? This is all he's got on his supposedly strong issues?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I need to state that I am a committed Obama supporter. As I first glanced at the different sites and decided to write this summary, I expected to award Richardson the highest marks because of his nicely laid out and detailed plans. But as I started to justify my grading and looked at the sites again, I realized all the information missing from Richardson's site. Trying to be objective, I had to give my own guy the highest marks for covering all the issues in at least some detail. I don't think we should expect 30+ page plans in the Culver energy plan style on every issue, but I feel we deserve to have some sort of an idea where our candidates want to take us. In this exercise, I found some empty suits, which is not surprising. But the identity of those empty suits did surprise me.

For the Republicans reading this site, I was shocked to discover the lack of substance on your candidates' sites regarding these issues. I hope you as Iowa caucus goers demand better from them. Or find different front runners.

RF is a Democratic activist in Polk County, Iowa. He greatly enjoys debating issues with Republicans and likes to mess with Chairman Sporer.
So, Presidential advocates, why is rf wrong? Let’s get it on!


The Real Sporer said...

Here's what I want to hear about Iraq.

What will you do to win, which I define as an Iraqi government that can sustain itself and help contain Iranian hegemony and an ally in the larger war on terror.

What force committment will that require. If you cannot say for sure, say so. We certainly had to use far larger forces to capture those tiny little Pacific islands that our planners originlly thought possible but I'd like to know what to expect.

Why do you think this will work?

How will the world most likely look when your policy comes to fruition, and why?

Everyone wants victory and everyone wants Iraq quieted down. Libs want to bring the troops home, and Hawks want to send them somewhere else. Darfur and Somalia come to mind.

rf is right about one thing. These are big issues and if someone wants to be President, use your website to fill in the gaps that the TV spots and stump speech one liners leave open. We really need to know.

John mcquisling said...


We have troops in the Pacific and in Germany. What, pray tell, is your exit strategy for World War 2?

Your war on poverty is a hopeless quagmire. What is your exit strategy?

Spotlight said...

We will "win" when we leave. Bush yesterday said he envisioned staying for 50 years (like Korea). He's just re-energized the insurgency!!! A fine way to support the troops!

We win by leaving because we end the main source of animosity toward the US in the world today. We make it less likely that the war will spread to Iran.

There is no "larger war on terror". Terror is a tactic of warfare used by AQ when they attacked the emabassies, the WTC; used by the US when we firebombed Dresden, mined the Nicaraguan harbor, supported the death squads in El Salvador, and when we torture people; used by homegrown right-wingers who bomb abortion clinics or federal buildings.

One more thing: Iraqis want us to leave. You seem to forget about them.

KenRichards said...

I think we need somebody like Ike to tell the Arabs we are ready to let the nukes fly if they don't cut it out.

Or something to that effect....

RF said...

Sporer - Thanks for posting this. I greatly appreciate it. Sorry about the typos. I need to proofread better.

I agree, the candidates really need to address these issues. They are very important. Naturally, my check of the web sites does in no way cover what the candidates are saying on the stump. But this day and age, if you have stands on issues and don’t put them on your web site, you are just stupid. If you are not willing to take a stand on these things, you should not be running for president. To emphasize, my grading was to judge how much information each candidate provided and if they covered all the issues I was looking at. To debate whose ideas are good and whose are bad is a whole other discussion and would deserve its own grades.

Mcquisling – I suspect we are mostly in agreement. My exit strategy for Japan and Europe? Get the hell out! No need for us to stay there to protect the Japanese or Europeans. At this point of time, they should not need our troops on their soil. The only reason to keep any troops would be for strategic access to other areas if no better options exist. War on poverty? This is probably a more complex issue, but no less important. I think we need to take a good look at our welfare system and retool it, something my party is often unwilling to do. The system obviously isn’t working very well. We should aim to help those who are willing to help themselves. Welfare should be a temporary aid program to help people get on their feet. I also think a universal health care system and robust social security safety net are important pieces of the puzzle.

Spotlight said...

Sorry, rf, but we're not getting out of either Europe or Japan. Those military bases are keystones in our empire of overseas bases (over 700 sites) and client states. We want to be able to "project force" to the whole world. We can do that even better if we have some new bases in Iraq and keep them there for 50 years--until the oil runs out.

Terrorism is being dropped as the justification for this occupation. It's all about the bases.

el presidente jorge boosh said...

Socialist Security and socialized medicine might sound good but where are you going to get the money to pay for it?

Anonymous said...

spotlight - interesting definition of winning. we win by losing?

What's our exit strategy for getting out of Bill's war - Kosovo?

We were not in Iraq when the planes flew into our buildings and killed 3000 co-workers. What prompted them to do that?

And..Iraq DOES want us there. Did you get that news from the Daily Show?

I know that polls tell us that Democrats rely on the Daily Show for their news more than any other outlet. What you guys may not realize though, is that Jon Stewart is a COMEDIAN, not a reporter. It's a COMEDY show, not a news program. Your information might be wrong.

But, to get to your point. So, what is the gain to America if all of a sudden everyone likes us - as you define it? How does reducing the animosity that you see make us safer?

Actually, since you guys don't even think there is such a thing as terrorism, I guess you already feel we are safe and don't have anything to worry about.

No wonder you have no plan and no strategy - just bumper stickers about poverty.

spotlight committed a hate crime against america said...

Spotlights comments really shows the anti-americanism that runs rampant through the democrat party. You can tell he really hates America. How does someone turn into a self-hating American? Sounds like he may need some therapy.

All the democrat candidates use much of the same hate filled rhetoric that somehow America is evil and must change into something different. Edwards does it the most. And, since America is not a piece of land, but a culture embraced and lived by individuals, then they are saying that we are all evil too.

RF said...

Another thought on the top candidates on my side. Maybe experience does matter. The candidates with the least experience in elected office (Edwards, Clinton) are offering the least substance.

Spotlight said...

Someone asks: " So, what is the gain to America if all of a sudden everyone likes us - as you define it? How does reducing the animosity that you see make us safer?"

If everyone likes us, they won't finance Osama. They might even turn him in. We were pretty popular in Indonesia after we helped with tsunami recovery. You catch more flies with honey . . .

That same someone who says I get my news from comedy shows (that I don't watch) asks "We were not in Iraq when the planes flew into our buildings and killed 3000 co-workers. What prompted them to do that?"

They DIDN'T do that. No Iraqis were on the plane. Maybe next time they WILL be.

If I bring you a better sandwich tomorrow will you like me better? said...

why did al qaeda fly planes into our buldings? We weren't in the country of al qaeda either.

You have quite a fanciful imagination with this fantasy you concocted. Does the DNC believe this too?

This is typical of how a weak person reacts to a bully. They think they can get the bully to like them if they are just nicer to them. And, by the way, the Indonesians told us to get the F out of their country and refused our help. Where do you get your news? You always have your facts wrong.

"If everyone likes us, they won't finance Osama. They might even turn him in. We were pretty popular in Indonesia after we helped with tsunami recovery. You catch more flies with honey .

Spotlight (on historical facts) said...

Two years ago Max Boot wrote:
"The percentage of people holding a favorable impression of the United States increased in Indonesia (+23 points), . . .

"What accounts for this shift? . . .analysts point to. . .gratitude for the massive U.S. tsunami relief effort. . ."

Read it here--

Spotlight said...

"why did al qaeda fly planes into our buldings? We weren't in the country of al qaeda either."

Osama told you he did it because we were in his country (Saudi Arabia) and he didn't cotton to infidels in the land of Islam.

So we left, and went to Iraq, where we have been "welcomed as liberators."

RF said...

I’m still wondering what happened to R’s and their “winning the hearts and minds of people.” It has served us quite well as the primary tactic in spreading and defending our noble values in the world.

Anonymous said...

Under Spotlight's logic (or lack thereof) Israel would be justified in nuking Mecca because the muzzies have the Dome on the Crock in Jerusalem.

Hey, they are in Jewish holy land. Take them out.