by Joe Queenan
Saturday February 2, 2008
Liberal America deserves a champion, yet the only candidate was too far out in the presidential race
Several weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story about Dennis Kucinich, the gadfly Ohio congressman who was running a quixotic campaign for the US presidency. The article did not focus on Iraq, or his plans to provide universal healthcare, or his efforts to get Dick Cheney impeached. Nor, for that matter, did it dwell on his presidential campaign. Instead, it exhumed a 25-year-old story that Kucinich may have seen a trio of unidentified flying objects while a guest at Shirley MacLaine’s home in Washington state.
Kucinich, fighting to keep his cash-strapped campaign alive in the New Hampshire primary, would not discuss the incident – presumably because he was more interested in discussing aliens entering the US from Mexico than aliens pouring in from outer space. But the media had no interest in Dennis Kucinich, the Candidate. Their interest was confined to Dennis Kucinich, the Flake.
Once upon a time the Democratic party had a left wing – not in the European sense, as communism has never flourished here and socialism has barely taken root; but by American standards, presidential candidates such as George McGovern and Teddy Kennedy in the 70s and early 80s were pretty far left. (Kennedy, whose contributions to his country surpass those of his more famous bothers, remains uncompromisingly liberal, but represents Massachusetts, America’s most liberal state.) This led to electoral disaster and a Republican golden age, interrupted only by Jimmy Carter’s bewildering presidency and ended when Bill Clinton pulled the party back to the centre of the spectrum, where it is today. Of the candidates on the hustings this year, only Kucinich is even vaguely of the left. And now he has pulled out, lacking the cash to go on and worried that he might lose his congressional seat.
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