Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dennis Debating? Don't Bet on It.

Reading the latest Dennis Kucinich wackiness, it occurred to me that he has no intention of debating his primary opponents, no matter what he says.

First to reset Dennis's recent shenanigans. Openers reports that Dennis sic'd Homeland Security on primary opponent Joe Cimperman because Cimperman was filming inside a government building while doing one of his "Where's Dennis" pieces. In addition Dennis is opening an office for his presidential campaign in Massachusetts. Because you recall how aiming to win New Hampshire did wonders for his campaign.

And in the midst of that, he launched into a tirade about how NBC kept him out of the Nevada presidential debate because of parent company GE's nuclear power business. Oh, and he implies that that the lack of media coverage he gets is the reason his campaign is nowhere:

    "The corporations are really in a position where they're using the broadcast media to rig presidential elections by determining who's viable based on who gets coverage; in the advent of an election, who goes on the news shows and who is getting their contributions from their executives," Kucinich continued. "This is a real serious matter."
At this point at least one of two thing must be true. Either Kucinich is completely delusional, or he assumes his supporters are. We expect candidate to proceed with a certain amount of pretend optimism. It's part of the dance we call democracy. So when John Edwards says he'll stay in the campaign even if he loses South Carolina, we know it can't possibly be true but we also know it's part of a complex social contract with his supporters that he does so.

But false displays of optimism for a guy polling in the mid-teens is one thing. A new campaign office for someone barely in the single digits is simply out of touch with reality.

And that's why he won't debate. He doesn't want to get called out on his stuff in a debate that potentially matters. As Kevin Drum points out (talking about Paul this time) it's no great thing for a fringe candidate to cast himself as a truth-teller. What a candidate says with something at stake that measures the man.

So that's Dennis's disincentive to debate. His opponents will call him on abandoning the district for his quixotic presidential campaign, on his inability to accomplish anything because he won't compromise, on the fact that the numbers don't add up for his national health insurance plan or any number of other uncomfortable subjects. He does not want to tell the truth about any of it.

When he was interviewed after announcing that he would seek another term in Congress Kucinich insisted he intends to debate his opponents. He was kind of an ass about it too, saying "Of course I'll debate," as if he hasn't refused in past elections. But he has an escape hatch. Supposedly his campaign is talking to the City Club about dates. In all likelihood the dates won't quite work out.

Because he has this presidential campaign, see.

In fact I'll bet a post on it on it, to the first blogger who somehow still remains a Dennis fan and takes this up. If Dennis debates his primary opponents, you can have one post to brag, sing his praises, whatever. If he doesn't, I get a post on your blog to rail against his hypocrisy.

Anyone game?


Unknown said...

Dennis maybe a quack, but he is right on two things (from your post)... people who are not "viable candidates" per the press are not given any, and therefore, are not viable candidates. This Catch 22 is a good chuck of the problems with the political system.

The other being the filming inside a government building by Cimperman. I dare anyone (other than a politician or known wanna-be politician) to film in or around a government building. Please post your video to YouTube so we can all enjoy an episode on your arrest or harassment. It is very unfortunate that we (the 'little people') can't film inside "our" buildings.. but thats what all this B.S. has come to (refer to part #1 of rant).

Scott Piepho said...

Banner it's true that the media has an outsized ability to influence the attention given to marginal candidates. It is not true that Kucinich's candidacy has suffered from a lack of media attention. He does one thing well -- get himself on the news. The campaigns of Biden, Richardson and Dodd all died quiet deaths because the media concentrated on the "good stories." Kucinich has made himself a good story, he just hasn't translated that into votes.

As for filming inside government buildings, there are good reasons based on security and (in places like Social Security) privacy. Cimperman's actions didn't implicate any of those concerns. Dennis just called security because he could.

TBMD said...

Once the errr, self-gratifying Presidential bid ends, and the media spotlight goes away, you'll see Dennis doin' plenty of "shuck and jive" (to borrow a phrase from Andrew Cuomo) to avoid any debate.

Anonymous said...

I think the mistake here is comparing the ridiculous presidential election schedule and that of a congressman. Maybe he has avoided debates in the past, but there's not reason to assume he will do the same now. It's early. If you truly think he will falter, let him falter. In the meanwhile, I'm sure he appreciates it when they spell his name correctly in all stories related to his presidential or congressional campaigns. Cimperman will be lucky if he can get the half of his current ward that overlaps the 10th to support him. As a resident of that ward, i would not.

Ben said...

I dont think Dennis should be blaming the press...he gets more press atention for a candidate at 2% than probably anyone in history

Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Scott,

Yes, Dennis is a whack job.

However, he's an honest whack job.

It's OK for Edwards to lie since he's showing optimism.

It's not OK for Dennis to speak a truth because he's showing optimism.

What's wrong with the picture?

And no. I don't think he has any chance what so ever of winning.

But somebody needs to tilt at the windmills to keep the discussion going.



Scott Piepho said...

It's OK for Dennis to speak truth, it's just that he can't take that much credit for it because he has nothing to lose.

But worse than that, he's not speaking truth. Opening an office in Massachusetts isn't honest, it's delusional. Pretending you can solve the health care problem by flicking a switch from "profit" to "nonprofit" isn't honest, it's facile.

Anonymous said...

Dennis just needs to speak to the people of his district - no one else.

I was incensed with the PD's support for that superficial,sell-out Cimperman. Represent? Representative? He doesn't do that now in Council and no one has taken too close a look at this imature phony.

Cimperman would have a lot to lose in a debate even if he is acting as a schill for a few democratic politicos, special interests and a former PD tyrant.