Is The Presidency For Sale…

by Dr. Wunmi Akintide

The last time I checked, and that was yesterday, President Bush had raised 200 million dollars in his bid for a second term. By the same token John Kerry his Democratic challenger has raised 117 million which has broken the all time record for the oldest Party in the Republic. I won’t be so much concerned about this development, if President Bush in spite of his glaring failures in strategy and leadership, as the leader of the so called free world, and the only remaining super power, is not arrogating to himself and to America, the right to bring freedom and democracy to the rest of the world.

He, President Bush had chosen to do that, however, by starting with Iraq, an avoidable but very costly War in cash and American blood. President Bush had wanted the world to believe that if he could bring Democracy to Iraq, the rest of the Middle East including the very epic center of Feudalism, Saudi Arabia and its Wahabi ideology of Islam, would have no choice than to fall in line. While nobody disputes the need for Democracy to take hold in the Middle East, the jury is still out on how best to go about doing it. Many still believe the whole effort would sound phony, as long as the most important issue on the ground, the Arab/Israeli conflict still remains a quagmire, with America faking the role of a disinterested peacemaker.

This column believes President Bush is making a big mistake and committing a great blunder by making America to swallow hook, line and sinker his doctrine or hypothesis on Democracy in the Middle East in particular. The quagmire that Iraq has now become, as we all can clearly see in our television tubes around the world, has proved the emptiness of the Bush approach. The unfortunate thing is that he man, John Kerry who could offer a clear alternative to the Bush Doctrine and approach, is himself in no position to do so with clarity and precision because of the politics of money in America. If he opens his mouth too wide to criticize what Bush is doing in Iraq, the Bush rapid response machine using his limitless funding would go on the offensive blackmailing him as putting American troops in danger.

There are things a Vice Presidential candidate can say in a campaign that the major candidate himself cannot afford to say. The Bush Team is therefore taking undue advantage of the fact that Kerry has not yet named a running mate. While Dick Cheney continues to play the role of an attack dog for Bush, Kerry has nobody to effectively play that role for him, as we speak I had thought the John McCain and Feingold Campaign Reform efforts were designed to curb the influence of money in American Politics. It is now clear from what Bush in particular and Kerry, to some extent, are doing, and how they are raising money, that there are far too many loopholes that the McCain and Feingold efforts in Congress have not changed in any significant ways.

Bush has succeeded in putting Kerry in a box, so to speak, by spending no less than 70 million on commercials designed to totally blackmail, misrepresent and distort Kerry’s profiles and record as a highly decorated Vietnam War hero, as a former Lieutenant Governor, and then as a Senator for 20 years or more in a State that is generally regarded by majority, as the intellectual center of America. John Kerry, on a serious note has got to be doing something right, to get that far in the politics of Massachusetts. But Bush with his 200 million War chest which could rise to 300 million dollars or more before the Election in November, is not so much defending his record in office which is dismal on many issues, but piling up on Kerry and arguably misleading the nation about why Kerry is not fit to be Commander-in-Chief. Kerry, on the other hand, who could not match the spending spree of Bush, by any stretch of the imagination, has had to remain silent or indifferent on issues or messages his rapid response team should also have been putting out on Bush on the air waves. Who is going to be the big loser in all of these? It is America and its reputation around the world which has suffered a major blow under the arrogant, sometimes inept and unilateral streak of a President who has openly admitted to Bob Woodward he did not entertain any doubt on what he does, and how he implements his resolution on any issue. Not even Churchill his political mentor could make that kind of statement as a War time Prime Minister in Britain. Even is spite of that, Churchill who had brilliantly led Britain through the War, was roundly rejected at the polls in the next election, just like Bush may well lose the coming election.

Now, when you are leading a country as sophisticated and as militarily powerful and rich as America, you are indirectly leading the world, because in the world of globalization, no nation is an island. All nations are really dependent on one another. So the argument by Bush that America must lead, and the rest of the world must just follow, is the dumbest statement I have ever heard from any successful world leader in living memory.

America under George Bush, the second is really showing it does not understand how to wield and exercise power and influence without hurting the feelings of the rest of the world. It only believes that power and money are all that are needed to make the world dance to America’s tune. If you compare George Bush record with the man he succeeded, you would have observed a world of difference in their style and their fundamental understanding of Geo. Politics. I recently finished reading a book titled “Islam under siege” by an Islamic scholar named Akbar Ahmed. I was also privileged to listen on C-SPAN cable to an amazing speech delivered on May 21st by President Bill Clinton at the Dole Institute of Politics at Kansas University in Lawrence.

I know President Clinton as an avid reader could possibly have read “Islam under siege” But the President truly shows he is head and shoulder better informed about Geo politics than President Bush. President Clinton like intellectuals like late Patrick Moynihan who has written many more books than most of his contemporaries have ever read, is one of few intellectuals to ever get into the White House. While Akbar Ahmed had talked mainly about the need for global dialogue in his book, President Clinton had struck similar notes in his speech. His articulation and understanding of world problems as a former President was first class. I guess you could call Ahmed a theorist. But what President Clinton had done in that amazing speech and dialogue with his audience in Kansas, was based on applied knowledge that none of us can second-guess.

The former President had underscored he need for the world to engage in dialogue and the need for world collaboration because, as he forcefully argued in that speech, all nations and all human beings are dependent on one another. He had argued that all of mankind, Black and White, Red and Yellow, Jews and Gentiles, Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals are really 99.9% the same. We can love and hate. We backbite, we cheat and lie, if necessary to protect ourselves and family. Many of us try to bring others down while promoting our own self interest. We all share similar attributes, if we really look at it in context.

We therefore need to work together by seeking common grounds that must be the basis of a deal as we move forward in life. He recalled telling the Palestinians and the Israelites that sooner or later they must have to make a deal to move forward in their peace effort. He warned that the violence has got to end, and that if there is the will and commitment on both sides of the isle, that peace is truly possible He had deposed that sworn enemies can work together, if they look for common grounds they can agree on. He described as the dumbest thing that the Palestinians ever did was their total rejection of the concessions that Ehud Barak had made to them while he, Clinto was still President. It was supposed to be another starting point just like the Camp David Accord between Anwar Sadat and Menehem Begin with Jimmy Carter presiding, had become a major milestone in the Arab/Israeli conflict to this day. I guess my point here is that the current President needs to learn a lot from the Clinton approach and doctrine. The politics of money and more money alone to alter the will of the electorates will not serve the best interest of a potentially great nation like the United States.

Too much dependence on money power as a goal of seeking and getting power clearly sends the wrong message to the world that America claims it is leading. We all know that in much of the third world, the presidency goes to the highest bidder due to corruption of the elite. Like the shining city on the hill, America ought to show the world that it is different. Even in the third world today, we are seeing some gleamers of hope in places like India and South Africa. The foreign-born wife of Rajiv Gandhi has recently led her husband’s party to a huge upset victory in the last Elections in India.

We never heard of her raising millions of dollars or local currency to fight the Election, and she still scored an upset victory because of the power of her ideas and the acceptability of her party platform to the voters of India. What was more inspiring is that India as a Democracy is showing greater leadership to the world today than America in the way and manner that Government changes hands in India right from the days of Mahatma Gandhi to Pandit Nheru and then to Indira Gandhi. As a matter of fact, India’s greatest leader Mahatma Gandhi never held elective office. But he had led a movement and had led it very well. South Africa which has also embraced Democratic rule only 10 years ago under Madiba Nelson Mandela is showing the same leadership and resilience that the whole world can be proud of. Thabo Mbeki has just been returned to office for the second term in one of the most peaceful elections ever conducted in the world. We did not hear of Thabo Mbeki raising 200 millions or more to get himself into office like Bush is currently doing in America.

The American Presidency to the extent that it represents the whole world ought not to be for sale in the interest of mankind because we all have a stake in America just as much as America has a stake in the rest of the world. These are the kind of issues and articulation we hope the alternative to Bush, John Kerry must begin to harp upon, even though we now realize that Bush is trying to drown his voice out with his limitless war chest. If it means Kerry giving its acceptance speech a few weeks after the official nomination in the July Convention, so be it. Anything is possible in America. but the presidency must never be for sale.

I rest my case.

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