When talking about Kucinich, I usually leave it at "ugh". I've found that much kinder than actually getting into Kucinich's record. But his supporters are OUTRAGED(!) that I would be so dismissive, and they DEMAND(!) I explain myself.
Honestly, it would be better for your guy if I didn't. But since you all insist...
- Kucinich has never proven broad electoral viability. How many presidents have been elected straight from the House of Representatives? Kucinich could gain respect by running and winning in something a little more competitive than an urban 58 percent Kerry district.
- Did you know that Kucinich was once ardently anti-choice and anti-stem cell research? From a 2002 Nation article:
One thing you won't find on Kucinich's website, though, is any mention of his opposition to abortion rights. In his two terms in Congress, he has quietly amassed an anti-choice voting record of Henry Hyde-like proportions. He supported Bush's reinstatement of the gag rule for recipients of US family planning funds abroad. He supported the Child Custody Protection Act, which prohibits anyone but a parent from taking a teenage girl across state lines for an abortion. He voted for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which makes it a crime, distinct from assault on a pregnant woman, to cause the injury or death of a fetus. He voted against funding research on RU-486. He voted for a ban on dilation and extraction (so-called partial-birth) abortions without a maternal health exception. He even voted against contraception coverage in health insurance plans for federal workers--a huge work force of some 2.6 million people (and yes, for many of them, Viagra is covered). Where reasonable constitutional objections could be raised--the lack of a health exception in partial-birth bans clearly violates Roe v. Wade, as the Supreme Court ruled in Stenberg v. Carhart--Kucinich did not raise them; where competing principles could be invoked--freedom of speech for foreign health organizations--he did not bring them up. He was a co-sponsor of the House bill outlawing all forms of human cloning, even for research purposes, and he opposes embryonic stem cell research. His anti-choice dedication has earned him a 95 percent position rating from the National Right to Life Committee, versus 10 percent from Planned Parenthood and 0 percent from NARAL.
His transformation to being pro-choice happened literally overnight -- a week after he announced his 2004 presidential bid. One moment he was virulently anti choice, the next he was a staunch defender.
- "Department of Peace"?
We can conceive of peace as not simply the absence of violence but the presence of the capacity for a higher evolution of human awareness, of respect, trust, and integrity. We can conceive of peace as a tool to tap the infinite capabilities of humanity to transform consciousness and conditions that impel or compel violence at a personal, group, or national level toward creating understanding, compassion, and love. We can bring forth new understandings where peace, not war, becomes inevitable. We can move from wars to end all wars to peace to end all wars.
Citizens across the United States are now uniting in a great cause to establish a Department of Peace, seeking nothing less than the transformation of our society, to make nonviolence an organizing principle, to make war archaic through creating a paradigm shift in our culture for human development for economic and political justice and for violence control.
"Higher evolution of human awareness"? "Transform consciousness"? "Paradign shift"? What the hell is this crap? I expect this kind of crap out of Deepak Chopra (or Tom Cruise), not a serious presidential candidate.
And by the way, the "Department of Peace" already exists. It's called the "U.S. Department of State".
- The stuff above isn't even the worst -- check out this stuff from Kucinich's keynote address to something called the "Dubrovnik Conference on the Alchemy of Peacebuilding":
Spirit merges with matter to sanctify the universe. Matter transcends to return to spirit. The interchangeability of matter and spirit means the starlit magic of the outermost life of our universe becomes the soul-light magic of the innermost life of our self. The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we begin: One with the universe. Whole and holy. From one source, endless creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental. We, the earth, air, water and fire-source of nearly fifteen billion years of cosmic spiraling.
Clearly, Kucinich resides in a higher plane of existence than I do. But my plane is on the planet earth. I want my president to reside here as well.
- The 1999 book The American Mayor by Melvin G. Holli, ranked Kucinich the 7th worst mayor in the nation:
Only thirty-one years old when elected, Cleveland's "boy mayor" had failings that were not the sins of venality or graft for personal gain, but rather matters of style, temperament, and bad judgment in office. Kucinich earned seventh place the hard way: by his abrasive, intemperate, and chaotic administration. He barely survived a recall vote just ten months in office, then disappeared for five weeks, reportedly recuperating from an ulcer. When he got back into the political fray, his demagogic rhetoric and slash-and-burn political style got him into serious trouble when he stubbornly refused to compromise and led Cleveland into financial default in late 1978 - the first major city to default since the Great Depression. That led also to Kucinich's defeat and exit from executive office. Out of office, he dabbled in a Hollywoodesque spirit world and once believed that he had met Shirley MacLaine in a previous life, seemingly confirming his critics' charges that he was a "nutcake." After that, he experienced downward mobility, losing races for several other offices and finally ending up with a council seat; but more recently, he climbed back up to a seat in Congress. Bad judgment, demagoguery, and default also spelled political failure in the eyes of twenty-five of our experts, who ranked Dennis, whom the press called "Dennis the Menace", as seventh-worst.
This survey spanned mayors in the United States between 1820 and 1993. Notching the "7th Worst" slot was a serious accomplishment.
- He used his 2004 run for president to score dates. Luckily, he's married this time around so we'll be spared that pathetic display of desperation.
Kucinich fans -- I had no intention of writing any of this.
You should've let me leave it at "ugh".
Update: One good point people have made is summarized in this comment:
I'm not a Kucinich fan either, particularly, but some of this is IMO a little unfair. I tend to think he's just utterly unelectable on a national scale in this country, but he should be as free to talk about his "faith" as everybody else is, in theory, right? I mean, you can mock new-agey stuff -- it's pretty mockable in some ways -- but if you back off, is it really any sillier than any other set of faiths?
Here's the difference -- Kucinich is using his "faith" as the basis of his "Department of Peace". In other words, he's trying to inject his faith into the public sphere.
And that's not something I'm willing to tolerate, whether it comes from the Religious Right or from our side.
People are free to talk about the source of their values. But I believe strongly in the wall between church and state.