Monday, February 18, 2008

On the damned presidential race

I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the lower animals (so-called), and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me.-Mark Twain

Sometimes disgust is the necessary mother of invention:

The Hugo Zoom Undesirability Index© (HZUI, or "hizzooey!")

by my calculations, if Rudy Giuliani is the baseline for the 2008 group, getting a 100, then,

Huckabee gets a 97,
McCain a 95,
Hillary Clinton a 94, and Obama a 92, or a 91 cause I don't want Scarlett Johanson to be mad at me. Either way, a solid A minus in undesirability.

Edwards is awfully hard to grade, probably in the 70s or 80s, but a lot of it depends on how genuine you believe his conversion is-- a conversion to a politician quite unlike his Senate voting record. While he was still running I certainly hoped it was genuine, insofar as he seemed like the only remotely viable candidate who was also (possibly) worth a damn.

Ron Paul is also hard to assign a score. His views regarding the constitution and reining in the bloated US military empire would ordinarily make him an F minus on the HZUI, with a score of 30 or less, but then you have to reconcile those items with his hostility towards immigrants and homosexuals, as well his radicalism with respect to tearing apart the welfare state, abolishing the income tax, etc. I'm going to say 55.

Mike Gravel gets a 30. I'd slice 5 points off if he endorsed good old fashioned progressive taxation instead of his cockamamie value-added scheme which I don't think he's really thought out. You also have to note he's nearly 78 years old, so he can't score too low-- but if he's on the ballot in your state(he's not in Texas)I'd point out he has the worst HZUI score of any candidates still in the race-- therefore the best score. Dennis Kucinich gets a 20--but he also didn't make the Texas ballot, and needless to say, he's already dropped out, in no small part because the democratic party has threatened his day job in Cleveland(the Ohio primary, in which he faces a well-financed in-party challenger, is March 4th).

I think it's interesting and odd that the dynamic is so different with GOP rebel Ron Paul-- although he also faces a challenger in the Texas primary(also March 4th), the GOP leadership has mostly distanced themselves from the Paul primary house race, possibly out of fear of pissing Ron Paul off and of him subsequently running as an independent for president in November.(the Libertarian party, whom he represented for president in 1988 when he got around half a million votes, has already said their nomination is his should he ask for it. So far Paul has gone out of his way to say he has no plans to run as an independent in the fall, but I wonder if that will change after he secures his party nomination for his house seat.)

Now, back to the HZUI: you may object that it's facetious and simple-minded and reductive. Absolutely. It might even promote cavities-- I don't know. But I fail to see how it's any worse than all the bigshot bloggers going on and on and on, ad nauseum, about whether Obama or HRC poses a better ability to beat McCain. (The big time news media outlets are doing the same of course.) The undesireability index has the virtue of recognizing, in simperingly simplistic terms, that the democratic front runners don't really differ in any substantial terms from the republicans on the big issues, at least not when it comes down to brass tacks and actual congressional votes and actual implementation. Secondary issues, like gay marriage and stem cell research-- maybe. But on the big issues we are facing today-- the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the possible war with Iran, and the death by a thousand cuts of the US Constitution-- not so much.

Perhaps you object, that the possibly imploding economy is also a big issue. Yes, but while polled Americans roundly support leaving Iraq as a substantial solution to our economic woes, the leadership in both parties reject this, as each vies for the style of tax rebate or tax cut which will be better. So I'd argue the politicians have already taken the economy "off the table" and won't deal with it seriously no matter who wins in November.

Whenever I hear Hillary Clinton scolding the Iraqis for not "taking more responsibility" for their own security or Obama talking about the "threat" posed by Ahmedinejad(!?) I wonder what they think they're accomplishing, apart from legitimizing the standard BushCo/republican party take on foreign policy. But perhaps that's the point.

I'm even wondering, in complete seriousness, if the best way to protect social security from the privatizers is to vote for a republican president and a democratic congress-- because otherwise, if the democrats have all three they may feel they don't have to bother with the last pretense binding them, albeit barely, to their old New Dealing ways.

Then, their transition to the semi-secular branch of the GOP Big Business Party will be complete, and they'll insist that any privatization plan allow citizens consumers to choose a socially responsible, (cruelty-free?) portfolio of stocks for their damned individual accounts, designed to make you feel good like an investment option should.

see also John Caruso's "I don't care as long as it's a DEMOCRAT!"
and Rob Payne's "Pavlov's democrats"

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