Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What Have You Done for Me Lately (or ever)

My last post in the ongoing political discussion here got me thinking about the overall effectiveness of each of the candidates for president. So, let's ask the question, what have each of them actually done? What are they known for doing? I am going off the top of my head with each of these. I am pretty politically connected, but I might be forgetting something, so correct me if I leave something out.


Hillary Clinton - former first lady, New York Senator, has not sponsored a single piece of memorable legislation, biggest political effort was Hillarycare during her husband's presidency and that overwhelmingly failed

Barak Obama - first term Illinois Senator with no executive experience and no legislative accomplishments to think of

John Edwards - one term North Carolina Senator who would have lost his reelection bid if he had not unsuccessfully run for vice president, no legislative accomplishments to think of

Bill Richardson - governor of New Mexico and former Energy Secretary under Bill Clinton, helped resurrect New Mexico's economy by signing into law a tax cut bill in the state

Dennis Kucinich - Ohio Congressman who sponsors bills that Democrats won't even vote for, if I remember correctly, he was mayor Cleveland when it was at its worst

Mike Gravel - former Alaska Senator, didn't know who he was before this election cycle

Chris Dodd and Joe Biden- I am lumping these small state senators together, both have been in the Senate forever it seems and both are known for little more than their partisanship


Mitt Romney - former Mass governor, but I can't think of anything particularly notable about his tenure there, he ran the Olympics in Salt Lake City and used to head Staples

Fred Thompson - former Senator from Tennessee with no legislative accomplishments, best known for his small scenes on Law and Order

Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, and Duncan Hunter - congressman that no one had heard of before this election cycle, all have pet issues that they champion but no legislative accomplishments to think of

Sam Brownback - Senator from Kansas, no memorable legislative accomplishments

Mike Huckabee - former Arkansas governor, known for losing a lot of weight

John McCain - Arizona Senator with a long list of legislative accomplishments including campaign finance reform and attempted efforts to reform immigration, has effectively championed tax cuts and various forgein policy positions

Rudy Giuliani - executive experience as Mayor of NYC, turned NYC into the safest big city in the country, reduced crime, cut taxes, grew the NYC economy, reduced the size and scope of NYC"s beaucracy, shepherded the city through September 11th

There are two issues to consider - accomplishments and experience.

When it comes to accomplishments, only Bill Richardson, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani have any to speak of. I like Rudy's best.

The US has only elected ONE senator to the presidency - ONE in our whole history. His name was John F Kennedy. It takes a different skill set to be an executive than to be a legislator. The candidates with executive experience in the race are Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani.

If America is lucky, from an accomplishments and experience perspective, the race will be Bill Richardson vs. Rudy Giuliani.


courtney said...

you totally didn't even mention my guy--Ron Paul!!!!!! come on!!

Matthew said...

Well, as an idealogue (yes, I know, that's a terrible thing to be), I would say a candidate's personal and political philosophy might be considered as well, just so we can rest assured that their accomplishments weren't flukes brought on by circumstance (or grandstanding!) and that the candidate will behave in a reasonably consistent way in higher office.

Also, I don't think we must necessarily select a candidate whose accomplishments and experience are in doing things with which we do not agree (not that I have any problem McCain and Giuliani--I think they are the top of the heap). I am almost as interested in why somebody did (or tried to do something) as I am in what they actually did do (all this, I concede, is a minor quibble since you can tell a lot about what they actually believe from what they actually did).

Sadly, all this assumes that the American public votes rationally. It does not. People vote as much (or more) on their perceptions of a candidate ("he's got mean eyes, he listens to the same music as I do, he's cool and can play the sax") or their "gut" as real things such as experience and accomplisments.

As result we will probably wind up with a really irksome choice such as a Clinton/Obama ticket vs. a Romney/Huckabee ticket (ugh--I think I just threw up a little bit into my mouth). I doubt the people doing the selecting will be able to tell you why in any substantive terms. The people voting from their "gut" (which is apparently where their brains are) probably selected the candidates who gave them the least gas.

Robb said...

I mentioned Ron Paul - right where he belongs, in a group of other unaccomplished, ineffective congressmen none of us had heard of before this election cycle.

Robb said...

Matthew, I used to be ideological when it comes to politics. But I guess I have come to the conclusion that idealogues don't get anywhere. That is not to say that we all should be without principles. Rather, I have come to see politics as a series of incremental steps. I have some serious ideaological differences with Rudy, but I think he would be most effective in moving us in the direction I think the country ought to go.

Matthew said...

Like I said, it's a terrible thing to be (oh for so many reasons), but, regretably, it's the way I am.

I want to know what makes things tick, I want to know what makes people tick, and I especially want to know what makes people tick who are going to be involved in making policies that impact me. I don't like surprises (yes, I am often faced with situations that I don't like).

I agree that Rudy is the candidate, at present, most likely to move the country in a more desirable direction (assuming this is possible at this late date). If he had run in the last presidential election, I would have certainly voted for him. I could never stomach joining the Republican party (or any party for that matter--I am not a "joiner"), so I won't be voting in the primaries, but if he is the Republican candidate in the upcoming Presidential election, I will vote for him for sure (he does need to make it that far, though). Giuliania seems to have the best credentials of all the candidates so far; though, to be honest, I need to learn more about some of the other candidates.

I would like to hear more about where the various other contenders stand on a number of things, out of curiosity if nothing else.

Courtney, for what it's worth, I didn't think Ron Paul was so bad even if the liklihood of him being elected is nil. If I suddently decide to throw away my vote on a protest vote, Ron Paul will be my first choice.

courtney said...

Matthew, I used to like you...I'd say something to Robb too but I'm used to him being so jaded

Matthew said...

As old as I am, you'd think I'd know better than to discuss religion and fool like an old fool. :-/

I'm sorry, Courtney. I wish Ron Paul was likely to get the Republican nomimation, I really do. I would happily vote for him in the Presidential election wheras I am a little less enthusiastic about Giuliani--that whole "trading in his previous wife for a younger model just after she'd been diagnosed with cancer" never set well with me (I, for one, can kind of understand why some of his kids seem to hate him). His personal foibles don't necessarily take away from his experience, accomplishments, or his superior managerial expertise, but the prospect of voting for him doesn't make me terribly happy.

Ron Paul does have some positions that I don't really care for ("hate" might be a better word), but from what I understand about him, my beliefs are better correlated with his, overall, than any other candidate (of course, I've had to accept over the years that what I think are good ideas and policies aren't really realistic or practical). If I actually thought he stood a chance of getting in, I would join the Republican Party--as distasteful as this would be for me (so much propaganda and so very many solicitations for would be terrible)--just so I could vote for him in the primaries.

But the ugly truth is on Robb's side on this one--candidates who have experience successfully getting things done are more likely (and probably better choices) to get the nomination than candidates who merely have ideas that we agree with. Also, Ron Paul may be just a tad too radical to be president, and I am not any more enamored of the whole "Libertarian Utopia" thing than Robb (neither the State or Anarchy are viable replacements for God).

If it makes you feel any better, I don't know that Giuliani is likely to get the candidacy either--he and McCain may have the best qualifications, but the people will probably select whichever person that has the best hair and chin who gives them the least indigestion (that whole voting from the "gut" thing again).

As for being "jaded"--well, I am probably am the most cynical person you would be likely to meet which is odd because I can also be rather incredibly naieve (it's a bad combination, let me tell you). I guess it's part of being a fool.

I didn't mean to come across as rude, though, or to belittle your preferred candidate. I did throw away my vote in my first election because I voted for Ross Perot--STOP THAT LAUGHING (like any of you haven't made at least one horrible mistake)--and helped Bill Clinton into office for his first term (I almost lost friends over that one). It didn't help that Perot turned out to be a nut. I still believe that if you vote your conscience, no vote is a wasted vote, so I do hope you write in Ron Paul in the upcoming presidential election (after all, it's only a mere 14 months away
;-) ).

courtney said...

Oh,Matthew, I'm not upset with you at all. I actually have just been too exhausted of late to have an intelligent conversation about politics...and I really MUST get into shape for it all before my husband's classmates from law school start decending on our house for free food and loud conversation :)
The truth is I spent too much time this spring watching all 7 seasons of the West Wing and I'm feeling frustraded with the options before me this election...and already, really really tired of hearing about over-priced haircuts, marital infidelity and cleavage. The 20-something in me wants to get drunk on election day and "forget" to vote and the nearly-30-year old in me realizes that I can't live with that kind of guilt.
Ultimately, I'm just sick of how scripted that whole thing is and wish someone who actually shares my values was running and had the millions of dollars it takes to buy a presidency but that's not going to happen so I'm thinking of registering as a Democrat so I can vote AGAINST Hillary and then voting Rep. in the's a thought.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying the conversation and don't easily offend--I just have to pretend for the sake of annoying Robb (that's what kid sisters are for).

courtney said...

...there are alot of typo's in that last comment--sorry, I work nights!

...ross perot? really? for him or just his ears?

corexian said...

Robb, you totally dismissed all of the senators of any usefulness at all. Simply because they are in the legislative branch?

I'll agree with you, they are still politicians and therefore are among the most useless employed members of society. I'd just hate for you to drown in "fanboyism" for one of 'em, no matter who they are.

For what it's worth, I don't think 'ol Rudy is someone I would hate to take office, he just isn't as high on my list. It's the integrity thing and yes, personal life choices will always be an influential factor on that.

Robb said...


American history is what it is. Only one time in 43 presidents have we elected a senator president. And he only won by the skin of his teeth, even closer than 2000 was.

Americans have overwhelmingly elected people with executive experience to the presidency. That's just the facts.

Like I said in my post, if I am forgetting some political or legislative accomplishment, please point it out to me. What are Hillary's or Barak's or Edward's or Thompson's? And what about the congressman? What are the actual accomplishments of Ron Paul or Duncan Hunter? Tell me.

If Newt Gingrich gets in the race, I would quickly add him to the list of accomplished politicians. He did stuff that I can name, like the Contract with America, balancing the budget, and more.

Call me a fanboy if you want, but there is a reason why I support Rudy. He is the very best mix of philosophy, experience, and effectiveness in the race. (And it's not even close, really.)

Robb said...

Think I am bagging on Senators and Congressmen? Here are the last 12 elections. How did they fare?

President Bush vs. Senator Kerry
Governor Bush vs. VP (former Senator) Gore
President Clinton vs. Senator Kerry
Governor Clinton vs. President Bush
VP Bush vs. Governor Dukakis
President Reagan vs. Senator Mondale
Governor Reagan vs. President Carter
Governor Carter vs. Pres. (former Cngrsmn.) Ford
President Nixon vs. Senator McGovern
Governor Nixon vs. VP Humphrey
President Johnson vs. Senator Goldwater
Senator Kennedy vs Governor Nixon

They lost 6 out of 7 elections. And if we go further back, their track record only gets worse.

Matthew said...


The trick is to go ahead and vote on election day and THEN get drunk. With any luck, you won't even remember who you actually voted for and won't have to share any guilt when whoever gets in starts screwing everything up (almosts makes me wish I could imbibe alcohol). ;-)

As for values, if a political candidate actually had any values, they would think it was ethically wrong to buy the presidency in the first place, and they probably wouldn't accept any money from a questionable or compromising source thus hamstringing their campaign.

A political candidate with truly rock-solid, uncompromising values is basically unelectable, which brings us to the lesser evil.

The U.S. system makes pragmatists of us all because it is virtually impossible to come up with an electable candidate with which we agree 100%. The advantage of this is that the extemists (there's always somebody who takes what you believe and goes too far with it) within our own little group (as well as the opposing group) never get a candidate who agrees completely with them either (which, as far as I'm concerned, is a very good) thing). This insures, though, that nobody ever gets a candidate who isn't a compromise candidate.

Politics in this country is nothing more than sifting through the assortment of lunatics who want political power and picking out the least evil.

It's far from being the best system (I don't know of any better ones, though), but it works well enough to be sustainable.

As for annoying Robb, well, far be it from me to get in the way of two sibblings bullyragging each other. ;-)

And, yes, I really did vote for Ross Perot (ears and all ;-) ). He sounded so reasonable before he started sounding so insane (so very, very insane). I probably should have forfeited my right to vote in the next two elections for that little stunt.