I'm for candidates that are capable of looking at the 7.4 billion people in the world as part of a human family, even if they live in Iran or Israel or Mexico or Mali or Gaza or Gabon.
I'm for candidates that are capable of doing the right thing even though it involves confronting and displeasing important elements of their own base.
For instance, is a Democrat capable of taking an action that is opposed by the Congressional Black Caucus or Planned Parenthood or the Teacher's Unions. Or is a Republican capable of taking action that is opposed by the National Rifle Association or Big Oil or the Prime Minister of Israel.
If a President is not willing to confront his own base, when necessary, he or she is not worth the money we pay them.
Ronald Reagan did it twice in his first two years against the toughest of tough opponents, the State of Israel.
The first time involved the right of the President to conduct foreign policy unimpeded by foreign interference. It involved the sale of aircraft to the Saudis. The Israelis, under Prime Minister Begin, opposed the transaction. Reagan worked the issue very hard and won a showdown vote in the United States Senate 52-48. Before it was over, Reagan was accused by the Israeli government of “Antisemitism and betrayal”. See, Ronald Reagan, An American Life p. 416.
The second time involved the excessive killing of civilians in the Siege of Beirut in 1982. The Israeli army pummeled Beirut in the summer of 1982, trying to flush out the remnants of the Palestinian liberation organization. Reagan's request for moderation in the siege was ignored. After civilian casualties reached what Reagan considered completely unacceptable levels, he telephoned Prime Minister Begin on August 12, 1982.
According to Reagan's Diary, this is what he told the Prime Minister:
“I told him [Begin] it had to stop or our future relationship was endangered. I used the word 'Holocaust' deliberately and said the symbol of his country was becoming a picture of a seven-month-old baby with its arms blown off.” See, Ronald Reagan, An American Life p. 428.
Any of my liberal friends still think Ronald Reagan was an amiable dunce? Not at all. He had a clear sense of right and wrong and the guts to act on it.
So, if my standard is I want candidates that can look on all citizens of the world as part of the human family and I want someone who is capable of confronting anyone, especially close friends and supporters, in order to do what is right, who qualifies?
It's easy to dismiss Rubio. If he so much as entertained the thought of having a thought that was displeasing to the Prime Minister of Israel, Norman Braman, his longtime financial supporter and confidant would slap him around like a redheaded stepchild. Seriously. Rubio has been an absentee Senator with a belief system to rent out to the highest bidder.
Next to eliminate is the Unctuous Undertaker Ted "Carpetbombing" Cruz. This guy is a special case. He's deeply in love with his own oratorical skills and his ability to work an audience and bask in their adulation. It's freaking creepy. Because he does have skills and he is disciplined, he probably thinks he can explain away just about anything … prayerfully, of course. This guy cannot be allowed to win.
So that leaves us with Clinton and Sanders on the D side and Trump and Kasich on the R side. I think all of these folks have compassion for the human family and the guts to confront even their close friends (anyone can confront enemies) when the situation requires. Even Trump.
So here are my choices in descending order:
First, Bernie Sanders. He's sort of an in your face Barack Obama with a Brooklyn accent and quirky gestures. Plus, he's got an Irish Catholic wife. He's more liberal than I am … but you can't have everything. I can't envision him doing something he didn't truly believe in.
Second, John Kasich. A very decent guy with principles and experience. He had a productive 18 year stint in Congress and he's on his second term as a successful Governor of Ohio. I read somewhere that Ohio is important.
Third, Hillary. What did she accomplish at State? Not much. She avoided all of the really tough stuff. Plus, she grates … at least on me. If the other side puts up Cruz, I'll support her and even send a check … a little check.
Fourth, Trump. I just can't get as horrified at him as you are supposed to, to be welcome in polite company. Seeing the demand for my presence in those quarters is minimal, I don't lose much. I believe he passes the threshold test of compassion and the willingness to stand up for what he thinks is right. Plus, he likes to have a good time. That should count for something.
I will post again on Wednesday April 6, 2016 or before if the news flow dictates.
Comments are welcome at tomc[at]wednesdayswars[dot]com. Comments will be addressed in subsequent posts.