Consultants push candidates from strengths

It appears the Democratic Party might be doomed with two mediocre candidates.

The stars must be aligned. I found myself agreeing with Darren Bernard in his latest column, “Define a new kind of politics.”

I, too, am left scratching my head when I see a lot of fellow Democrats ranting and raving about how Barack Obama does things differently.

As Bernard pointed out, Obama has used the same ideas and policies of almost every other democratic presidential candidate, even going so far as to reuse a statement first delivered by John Edwards four years ago. In other words, he is the same old Democrat in a shiny new box that makes people want to believe he will be different.

Democratic candidates have used the strategy of abandoning core beliefs in order to appear more moderate – at the behest of their greedy consultants – in five of the past seven presidential elections. The two elections that were not marred by these consultants were in 1992 and 1996 when Bill Clinton won.

These consultants have pushed candidates like Obama, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore away from their strengths and have provided Democrats with some very weak candidates. Hillary Clinton might have higher support among women, but why? She was once a strong feminist figure, but has since abandoned her old philosophy in order to move toward the middle for a political run. Al Gore’s strongest issue is the environment. In 2000, his consultants told him that the environment was not a key issue to most voters, so Gore checked his strengths at the door and lost the election. Obama certainly is a fresh face, but it is already very apparent that he has been grasped by the clutches of the Democratic political consultants.

An interesting bit of information is that in the past two presidential elections, the consultants for the Democratic presidential campaigns have charged between five and 20 times what their Republican counterparts charge, according to an article printed in Rolling Stone Magazine. Many of the same advisers and consultants have had their hands in all five of the losing Democrat campaigns since 1980. As you might have guessed by now, Bill Clinton used different consultants.

It makes one wonder why democratic candidates continue to pay and listen to these consultants, who are zero for five in their last five attempts. Certainly the consultants are not the only reason the party has produced so many weak candidates over the years. The candidate must agree to work with the consultant and then decide to let their beliefs take a back seat to their quest for power.

After having said all of this, when it appears that the Democratic Party might be doomed with two mediocre candidates running the show and bringing in the most money from liberal donors, there is still hope. In this case, hope goes by the name of Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico.

Mr. Richardson is a man that seems very sincere when he is talking to you. He has not compromised his beliefs and backed down under pressure from consultants. He is real, something that very few candidates on either side can say. I don’t agree with Bill’s stance on every single issue, but this man is easily the most honest and electable politician in the field. Don’t take my word for it, though, he was re-elected the governor of New Mexico, a red state, with 70 percent of the total vote and 40 percent of the Republican vote.

Beyond all of that, he also has more experience in politics than any other democratic candidate. He was a seven-term representative from New Mexico and later was appointed secretary of energy by Bill Clinton. On top of that, he is one of America’s finest diplomats; he has negotiated the release of hostages from Saddam Hussein and Sudanese rebels who had taken Americans hostage. At the date this was written, he was in North Korea, negotiating for the return of the remains of several U.S. soldiers who died in the Korean War. This is his sixth visit to the normally untouchable North Korea, and it is said that Kim Jong-il once requested Mr. Richardson’s presence at a series of negotiations with the United States. The other thing Mr. Richardson has in his favor is that he is not a senator, as senators have gone an astonishing 0-40 in presidential races since 1961.

In a world where it is very hard to differentiate one politician from another, even one political party from another, Bill Richardson stands out. I’d hope that those who are looking for something different will read up on Mr. Richardson and listen to the speeches he delivers. As a Democrat, I’m dreading John Kerry version two, and unfortunately, it seems our party is headed that way. One need only look back to 1992 to see the story of a smart, charismatic governor coming out of nowhere to win the Democratic nomination and eventually two straight presidential elections.

I hope we will have a similar story to tell in 2008.

Bobby Kahn is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]