April 16, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • 1:45 AM EST
Democrats, fear not, you won't have to support a pro-war candidate for president in 2008, like you did in 2004, according to Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich.
"I expect to be the nominee because I am the only peace candidate. The American people should not have a nominee who is not opposed to war," Kucinich told a crowd of more than 50 people at a fundraiser Sunday night at the home of Audrey Blondin, a former Litchfield Selectwoman and candidate for Secretary of the State.
In a short half-hour speech and question and answer session, which he curtailed because of a CNN appearance in New York City, Kucinich explained the stark differences between him and the Democratic frontrunners, and he laid out a progressive, green vision of the future.
"The Democrats can't have a nominee who brought us into this preemptive war," Kucinich said. "While I expect to be the nominee, I don't expect there will be many people who will support a position other than what I am taking."
As a pure peace candidate who opposed the war from the start and who has rejected all funding bills for the Iraq War, the worst blot on his resume is his support in 2004 for Sen. John Kerry.
But that's nothing compared to the thumbs up for pre-emptive war that of Senators Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Further, he made clear he stands separate from the blood-stained "Yays" of Senators Clinton, Edwards and Barack Obama for funding the war.
"If you vote to fund war, you can't claim to be for peace," Kucinich said, noting that Edwards has said his vote on the Iraq war was a mistake. But, Edwards, Clinton and Obama are on board with Bush's Iran policy.
"With respect to Iran, they say all options are on the table," he said. "They have endorsed the Bush/Cheney doctrine that puts us in the same position in 2008 as we were in 2004. We can't have a nominee who bought into pre-emptive war."
Kucinich stressed the rule of law, and promised his White House would join the International Criminal Court and respect the United Nations.
"War must be rejected as a means of settling differences between nations," he said.
He set goals for universal pre-kindergarten, a department of peace and signing the Kyoto Protocols, drifting easily, smoothly between policy, vision and history. When the chimes in the grandfather clock in the Blondin home rang, he noted that if the Democrats don't get it together, the bell tolls for all of us.
Once he worked John Donne into the speech, he drew the metaphor of no man being an island.
"No one is independent," Kucinich said. "We are all one. It is human unity which calls my candidacy forward to offer to the American people. Unity calls us out of the wilderness, out of war, out of poverty."
Then he quoted writer and theologian Thomas Berry, who said our great work is to repair the planet.
"Not only global warming, but global warring," Kucinich said. "It is the dichotomous us versus them that sets us on a path to war. We are called to heal the planet and heal our relations with others."
He ended the first part of his speech with a poetic flair.
"Our presidency becomes a possibility of transformation, where we connect with the heart of the American people and call forth a vision of heart and courage, where we call forth our potential," he said. "In the words of Tennyson, 'Come my friends, 'tis not too late to seek a newer world.'"
He paused, picked up a Notre Dame University tea mug he was sipping tea from and waited while Blondin performed the mandatory hostess fundraising ask.
"M and M," she said. "Message and money." And noted there were envelopes available.
Kucinich put down his mug on a nearby table and added an O for organizing, calling it Mom. Then he opened the floor for questions. He talked about my arrest, but CTBob was there with the video, and we'll save that for a post later in the week.
Others stepped in with queries about impeachment (he's for it), and the international rule of law. When asked about immigration, Kucinich framed it as a human rights issue, and then recited the last five lines of "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, more well known as the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
"Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
It gave me the chills, and I try to keep an independent mind at events like this, sort of being a detached reporter. But I'm an American, too, and it amazed me to hear a presidential candidate say that.
His positive, practically utopian vision deserves more play in the mass media. But with the horse race focused on money, the grassroots has to work to focus on message. Kucinich's meet-ups attracted a progressive Lamont-style crowd that could propel him. It's still too early to tell.