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    August 10, 2007

    Grade the Dems: D is for Dennis

    Posted by: Chris

    Denniskucinichforum(Don't forget to vote in the Vizu poll in the right column below on which candidate you think did the best last night.)

    "I send you great love." That was the message Dennis Kucinich, whose drag name would no doubt be Polly Anna, because that's where 99.9 percent of his rhetoric lies. He had Melissa Etheridge and many members of the La-La Land audience swooning, which just about says it all. Joe Solmonese called him "an outspoken hero" for our community.

    Huh? This man took one-tenth the political risk of Barack Obama, John Edwards or Hillary Clinton in his answers at last night's forum. He had absolutely nothing to lose by preaching to the choir on gay rights, and in fact had everything to gain.

    "Keep those donations coming," he said, and oh yes that's exactly the aim here. That's not to say I doubt his sincerity.  He may come across like he's doing a late-night infomercial to sell a series of self-help cassettes, but he no doubt smokes his own dope on gay issues. (He backs medical marijuana, natch.)

    Why am I so cynical about a presidential candidate who seemingly says all the right things on gay issues. First of all, because he doesn't. His "feel the love" rhetoric isn't like to win over a single vote in Congress on gay rights legislation, other than those members munching on the same pot brownies.

    We need reality-based effective leadership, a man (or woman) with a plan. But when Joe Solmonese asked Kucinich what "hurdles" ENDA faces to pass the House, Kucinich sang the praises of Barney Frank and failed utterly to answer the question or offer any concrete strategy suggestions.

    Jonathan Capehart offered Kucinich a few opportunities to take some actual political risk in his responses, but Kucinich punted in the worst way. Capehart asked the Ohio congressman why he thinks only two of the eight leading candidates support marriage equality, and followed up by asking whether his position meant Obama, Clinton Edwards et al don't support real equality.

    Kucinich would have none of it, and launched into another verse of "Kum ba yah." 

    When Melissa Etheridge abandoned all semblance of objectivity and gushed that she hopes Kucinich will keep running for president till he wins, Kucinich responded that it took him five times to get elected to Congress. Imagine that, and he was running for the same district he had represented as mayor. Maybe the good folks of Cleveland are telling us something.

    I wouldn't buy a used car from this guy, much less support him for president. He may get an A for his policy positions, but he gets a flat F for being able to do anything about it.

    Here's his full 15 minutes of claptrap:



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    1. Amicus on Aug 10, 2007 8:20:12 PM:

      Viewed self-referentially, many people have found Dennis's remarks to be strange.

      However, if you get past your own nose, proverbially, and start to think in terms of moving the vote, not winning gay voters who will likely never singlehandedly decide a Presidential election unless they get better organized, Dennis' comments mean more.

      He's from Ohio and the evangelical vote is not trivial there. His message of the transformative power of love is a direct challenge to their preaching, in terms that are conducive to that clash of ideas.

      The rest of his time was wasted by the questionners. (*Please* take that as a weak criticism - it's EASY to be a Monday morning quarterback, right?).

      Rather than, "Is there anything that the gay community would like that you don't support", it would have been a good time to raise the profile of some of the communities most concerted enemies. I would have loved a headline that said, "Kucinich talks about ending the 'Spiritual Violence' of the Ex-Gay Movement."

    1. dcjrb on Aug 10, 2007 11:53:43 PM:

      You know Kucinich was the youngest Mayor in Cleveland history and if I am not mistaken he was so unsuccessful at the gig he was recalled in the 1970s.

    1. Brian Miller on Aug 12, 2007 10:14:50 PM:

      So, as a Libertarian, here's my take on Chris Crain's rating system to date for politicians seeking gay votes:

      1) Politicians who are pro-marriage equality and pro-immigration equality are just saying they're in favor of it to get extra votes since they have nothing to lose;

      2) Gay people should be concerned by a whole host of other issues in addition to gay rights that should weigh into the grades they get on... ummmm... gay rights;

      3) Democrats who take homophobic positions on equal treatment under the law are "inspiring."

      Yegods, it's like 1992 all over again.

      Get back to me when gay Democrats have the courage of their convictions to actually support candidates who support full legal equality -- and the full courage of their convictions to decisively reject the Obamas, Clintons, Edwardses, and Richardsons who don't believe in full equality under the law.

    1. Cj Parker on Aug 14, 2007 3:14:21 AM:

      Can someone tell me why we are allowing a division in our vote and why we aren't more unified in what would work best for our community as a whole? Does Kucinich the "Yes" man really have the stature to represent our country as a President? Do we have to give in to the ideas of "The best we can expect" or can we just get together and start demanding that our rights are given to us now>..not patronizing the ignorant or making this such a political or religious issue at all? All I'm asking, as a disabled Gulf War veteran (HOMO discharge 1991), that I be allowed to bring my legal wife from the United Kingdom to the United States so that she can be here to hold my hand while I deal with my illness. Kucinich is the guy who takes a good percentage of the Gay vote away from the numbers that we need to support the other Dem players who may be able to get something done in office. If we remain divided, the Reps could pass us up the ladder again.

    1. Brian Miller on Aug 19, 2007 7:19:17 PM:

      Can someone tell me why we are allowing a division in our vote and why we aren't more unified in what would work best for our community as a whole?

      Mostly because "our community" isn't a unified, centrally-directed bloc of voters, but a diverse group of people with differing perspectives (and priorities).

      Kucinich is the guy who takes a good percentage of the Gay vote away from the numbers that we need to support the other Dem players who may be able to get something done in office.

      All of the people seeking office for the Democratic Party's "top tier" have been in office -- powerful offices -- for years.

      Some for decades.

      What have they done for gay people?

      Not a bleeding thing.

      I don't support Kucinich, but I do respect him for being willing to take a stand and advance pro-gay-equality bills. Clinton, Obama, Dodd, Biden and Edwards have all been in the Senate for years -- YEARS -- and not once co-sponsored any significant gay equality legislation. . . let alone proposed any repeals such as that of DOMA.

      Why are we supposed to believe that these powerful men and women, who have done nothing as Senators, are suddenly going to do a bunch as president?

      Are we really that stupid?

    1. Citizen Crain on Aug 19, 2007 11:39:25 PM:

      I understand your frustration, Brian, but I think our lack of unification is a result of us NOT being stupid. Choosing a presidential candidate, at least in the primary, is a very complex decision -- even assuming that gay issues are the most important for you. (Of course that's not always the case.)

      Your own comment argued for and against Kucinich and his rivals. So if you couldn't decide on someone, why do you expect everyone else to? ;)

      If you are going solely by record, then Richardson is your candidate. He is the only one who has a record of leadership and results on gay issues. But he's also gaffe-prone and unfortunately appears not-ready-for-primetime.

      It's early days still, so let's keep paying close attention before we try to unify for one candidate.

    1. Gregory Wonderwheel on Aug 21, 2007 6:23:22 PM:

      Well these are among the most snide and smearing remarks I have seen against Dennis. What an absurd crok of cr*p! To say you don't doubt his sincerity then to challenge his sincerity with the next breath is clear hypocrisy. People who vote for the illusive "stature" or charisma of a candidate rather than on the positions the candidate holds are people who basically don't believe in democracy and turn that belief into self-fulfilling prophecy.

    1. Gregory Wonderwheel on Aug 21, 2007 6:35:54 PM:

      Kucinich's "Keep those donations coming," comment was really a slyly sarcastic criticism of people like you, who recognize that he is the one espousing the right positions but won't support him. I guess since you seem to have a chip on your shoulder against him that his irony went over your head. My god! A congressman who actually talks about the transformative power of love, much less uses the word "love," in the same sentence as gay rights. He must be a used car salesman since no congreeperson in their right mind would ever say such a thing! Ha! You've got me laughing out loud by how you have twisted truth into real politik.

    1. Citizen Crain on Aug 21, 2007 6:36:03 PM:

      To the contrary, "Gregory Wonderwheel," I accepted his sincerity and challenged the claim that his stance on marriage took political courage or that he has the first clue how to actually accomplish his idealistic goals. Kucinich couldn't even give a few moments of cogent analysis about how to pass ENDA, the least controversial piece of gay rights legislation in Congress.

      So please don't pretend your support for Kucinich is hard-nosed. You are no doubt well-intentioned, as is Kucinich, but you are wasting your valuable enthusiasm tilting at windmills, marginalizing our claim for marriage, and deferring the day of our equality.

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