Thursday :: Dec 4, 2003

Braun Choose Won't Make It


by pessimist

'Hardball' @ Harvard Business School

On Monday, November 19, Democratic Presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun appeared on the fifth edition of 'Hardball: Battle for the White House', an MSNBC series co-sponsored by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at the Kennedy School of Government (KSG) She faced direct questions about her qualifications and her campaign from members of the Harvard community. She might as well have been walking into a lion's den, for according to Harbus, a publication of the Harvard Business School:

In the minutes before the show, host Chris Matthews broke from his traditional crowd warm-up technique and set the stage for a dialectical evening. Rather than quizzing members of the Harvard audience on political history, Matthews asked participants to state a belief with which no one, or few present, would agree. While one student's assertion that "Yale will win the football game," was met with laughter, the more contentious statements elicited a mix of hisses and cheers. Ranging from beliefs such as "all abortions should be banned" and "firearms should be banned" to "castration should be the mandatory punishment for rape," the warm-up exercise sparked debate within the crowd and set a more feisty tone for the evening.

I'm sure that if George Warmonger Bush were to appear, then the warm-up would have been much different.

A quick aside - we all know this sort of psychological conditioning of audiences goes on, as it's a regular practice at TV show tapings a la The Tonight Show. To a certain extent, I can understand this in that context. But why does television resort to emotional manipulation of some of the more intelligent Americans when it is about to present one of the presidential candidates and her views? She's applying for the world's most important job - US President. These future leaders should also be auditioning for their roles as leaders by asking thoughtful questions, not merely acting as the cheering section at the Colosseum. Have we become such a nation of vidiots that even those arguably among America's best and brightest are not immune? If so, it's a sad commentary that Jerry Mander's Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television went unheeded.

Another sad commentary would be Moseley Braun's replies to legitimate questions, however they are presented. Chris Matthews' his first question to Carol Moseley Braun: "Tomorrow morning you wake up, you're the president of the United States. What would you do in Iraq?"

Braun replied, "What would I do in Iraq? I would call the United Nations and I would call our allies around the world and offer them all Krispy Kreme's and make up and engage them in...helping us to come out with honor."

I'm sure Krispy Kreme appreciated the free endorsement Carol, but what do donuts have to do with rectifying a major real-world international diplomatic disaster?

She seemed to finally get on track when she stated that resolving tensions with the U.N. would not be an easy task. When asked why the President has failed in this regard, she offered, "I think because they started off with a flawed concept, they didn't have an exit strategy. They didn't have a plan. They just went in there like desperadoes and...thumbed their nose at the international community."

Nice recovery, Carol, but had this been an actual terrorist attack on the United States, George Bush would already have returned to Washington from Nebraska after hiding out there all day.

She didn't seem to impress those present with her speed of thought either:

Matthews then spent several moments pressing a reluctant Braun on why the U.S. went to war with Iraq, who claimed that it was not her place to speculate. Braun eventually offered, "because they have a view of the world that doesn't comport with any reality I understand." Braun continued, "They thought that they could fight a mechanized, computerized war, push some buttons, blow stuff up, and then be welcomed as liberators...and the problem is that they went in without thinking through what they were doing, what relationship it had toward the domestic security of the American people."

Note the words used here: reluctant, eventually. Assuming that these words are an accurate reporting of her comportment, Moseley Braun is not demonstrating that she should be the Leader of the Free Trade World. It's almost like she has to warm up to her subject before she can deal with it. How much better it would be for her if she could demonstrate that she was on top of the issues with solidly thought out positions, especially as she is running a shoe-string campaign. But if this is as good as she gets, she's lucky to have a shoestring.

Case in point, she reverts to mantra-like responses when faced with questions for which there are no easy answers, or maybe for which she has no answers:

Switching to Braun's campaign, Matthews focused on the fund raising challenges facing Braun, questioning her ability to remain in the race through the primaries. "How do you compete against guys like Dean who can raise $25 million?" Matthews asked. Braun's response: "You just keep going. And that's what we're going to do. We're going to keep going."

And going, and going, and ...

Maybe you should change your mantra from "You just keep going" to "You just get going". According to MSNBC, she hasn't completed her forms for public campaign matching funds:

“One candidate still trying to qualify in recent weeks, Carol Moseley Braun, was wrapping up her paperwork Monday and did not expect to make the deadline. That means she would get her first government payment in February; Braun’s campaign hopes for about $300,000 then.”

All the other candidates who have applied for such funds will receive their first checks January 2. One would think that this would have been an important issue for her to deal with in a timely manner if she expects that her campaign will "just keep going" past then.

Braun also continued to insist that "We're in it to win it," in response to fund raising questions, the possibility of Hillary Clinton entering the race, and when asked whether or not she would accept the vice presidential ticket.

Harbus Associate News Editor Anne Ristau felt Moseley Braun's "in it to win it" claim rang hollow, but I feel that it demonstrates that there are questions out there that Moseley Braun doesn't want to deal with, which is not a good thing in a leader. As one participant said afterwards, "The Hardball event didn't change my mind on her candidacy as she failed to address many of the issues raised. Specifically, her responses to questions about her dedication to human rights causes were disappointing and often appeared to misstate her often-criticized track record."

She did demonstrate that there is at least on issue for which she's given some thought - education.

When a participant asked for her views on the "No Child Left Behind" Act signed by President George W. Bush, Braun remarked, "Also known as no child left untested or no behind left...the national government ought to be supporting teachers and parents and communities to provide quality education ...instead of just punishing them for their inability to make the grade on some set of facts." Braun continued "It's an unfunded mandate that is going to give rise to property tax increases, and essentially destroy the abilities of many communities that are trying to create good public schools."

Given this answer, I might consider her for Undersecretary of Education, but not President. It is my opinion that she should consider abandoning this quest as she is demonstrating that she is unqualified to be President. As another audience participant put it, "I don't think Carol Moseley Braun has even a remote chance of winning. ... I don't see how Braun can believe she has a shot at winning the presidential race. I personally think she knows she is going to lose, and that she is running just to bring her name back into the limelight."

Maybe, maybe not. In any case, it's becoming more clear to this commentator that Carol Moseley Braun should take her education issues and find another candidate's wagon to hitch to and pull him (as there are no other women running) to victory over George Warmonger Bush in 2004.

pessimist :: 6:29 AM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!