Saturday, March 24, 2007

Candidate Mike Gravel

Over the years, I've always been fascinated by obscure and outsider presidential contenders like Lyndon LaRouche, John Anderson, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, Al Sharpton, Gus Hall, etc. Fundamentally, I just dig the idea that literally anybody meeting basic eligibility requirements can run for the highest office in our land. That's America at its best, even if it must take shape in such a dubious group as listed above.

Anyway, the current top contender to merit addition to this list is former Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK, of all places) who is actually seeking the Democratic nomination for president. There are so many facets of this guy's campaign that interest me. Firtsly, he's got no right away you know the guy is likely to actually be interesting! Secondly, the dude's nearly 77 years old and has been out of politics since 1980! Winning the presidency in 2008 sure would be a good way to break a 30 year slump. In fact, how about this winning quote on his post-Senate life:

"I had lost my career. I lost my marriage. I was in the doldrums for ten years after my defeat."

Sounds about right to score that sympathy vote to me. Perhaps he is the only man who can bring peace to the Middle East and maybe a World Series title to the Chicago Cubs too? However, with all due respect, Mike Gravel's actually had a very interesting life. His Senate career saw him introduce noteworthy legislation concerning matters such as the building of the Alaskan Pipeline, ending the military draft, and normalizing relations with China. Who woulda thunk? Furthermore, Gravel was active in the Senate investigation into Watergate and he even mounted an old-fashioned/inside-the-convention-type campaign for vice-president in 1972! Nice.

After 12 years in the Senate, Gravel lost the Democratic primary to keep his seat in 1980. Then, with what must have been a fine example of party loyalty and losing with class, he attributed his defeat to Jerry Falwell of all people! Yes, I'm sure Rev. Falwell of the Deep South has enjoyed considerable influence on the politcs of the Democratic party of Alaska over the years indeed!

After a miraculous recovery from his decade-long doldrums, Gravel became a land developer in Alaska and even set up a "foundation" to advocate the use voter initiatives. Support for the latter cause likely brought him some allies he didn't want and the Senator has had to publically distance himself from ties to Holocaust deniers of all things!

You see what I mean about Gravel's rightful place on the list? So move over Eugene V. Debs. Bull Moosers and Libertarians -- we're gonna need your support here. Let's give the old guy a hand, a cane, and a Howard Dean scream as well. Yes, you too can be president, Mike Gravel!

Next time we'll look at another loser candidate who wants your vote, Chicago radio talk show host Republican John Cox.


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