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September 20, 2017

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2008 U.S. elections: Pandering as usual

Don't you think it's about time the U.S. Presidential candidates explained what they understand the job of the president to be? Instead we have rash promises, personal attacks, a preacher's rants, female testicular fortitude and other such manifestations of silly season as candidates pander to their constituencies in the chase for votes.

Americans currently have a president who has taken upon himself powers that properly belong to the Congress and the Judiciary. We have undeclared wars and disguised spending to support them; both are powers accorded the Congress. There has been presidential authorization for illegal torture, denying habeas corpus, and wire-tapping without a warrant, although it is very easy to get one from the Judiciary through a special court created to handle just such issues of national security.

President Bush rules as if Executive Privilege prevails over the U.S. Constitution. Isn't it about time that the American people asked the candidates how each of them would interact with the Congress and the Judiciary as the executive charged with carrying out the laws of the land?

The extent to which the candidates pander with policy pronouncements that do precious little to address serious problems in America tells us a good deal about the character of the politicians who strive to be President, and how they might govern. Their promises reveal whether the end — winning the election — justifies any means.

Hillary Clinton wins the grand prize here. She knows her proposed gas tax moratorium for the summer is a tiny band-aid for a gaping wound, almost universally decried by respected economists as idiotic. She knows that her universal health plan, which sounds idyllic, does not work in Massachusetts where it is creating at least as many problems as it pretends to resolve. As a lawyer, she should know that a moratorium on foreclosures and an interest rate freeze, laudatory as that sounds, would not survive judicial scrutiny of contract law.

Even more revealing was Clinton's remarks, back when she was cock-sure she didn't need Florida and Michigan, that their votes don't count and didn't matter. (Both states violated party Democratic Party rules by scheduling their primaries before Super Tuesday). Now that she has almost no chance of winning the nomination by the rules, the thrust of her campaign is to change the game to bring her back into a race that has been all but decided. Earlier, her campaign even alleged that convention delegates bound by the primaries were not legally bound, but free to change their vote — for her of course. Overall, Hillary Clinton scores 100 percent for testicular brass, and as close to zero as you like for ethical conduct.

While Clinton's quandary is that of a sure winner become loser, Senator McCain's is that the Republican core does not accept the primary winner as their candidate. Since he secured the nomination, approximately a quarter of subsequent primary voters have expressed their displeasure by voting for others, usually Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul. Sadly for McCain, he cannot hope to win in November without the support of that 20 percent or so of the electorate that is rigid, uncompromising religious righteousness and is the essential core of Republican Party activism today. McCain has had to give up his sensible positions on immigration reform and pander to those who believe that fencing America in will keep America American. He also panders to social conservatives with a recently expressed judicial philosophy that is much more radical right than he seems to believe. McCain muddles for the support of his Republican Party.

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