Mother Jones Daily: Briefing


Dems’ Debate: Not Enough Said

Batter, Batter, Swing!!

Politics
Dems’ Debate: Not Enough Said

As Bush rides a postwar wave of popularity, the nine Democratic presidential candidates vying for a place in the sun have left political analysts painfully unimpressed. But worse than disappointed pundits was the Sunday Democratic debate’s inability to turn any real voter attention to candidates’ plans for healthcare, tax cuts, and foreign policy. Perhaps that lack of interest stemmed from the debate’s own lack of interesting material. Doug Ireland of Tom Paine.com writes that Sunday’s forum amounted to “a sound-bite contest and the political equivalent of a beauty pageant.” Ireland places the blame in part on the debate’s pre-packaged, made-for-TV structure, but maintains that the Dems’ increasingly routine lack of substance made for “a fairly unenlightening 90 minutes.”

Campaigning in the shadow of a war-happy boy king can’t be an easy task. But the pundits aren’t pull their punches, arguing that if Democrats are going to make a move, they’d best not wait until Bush is fully on the war path , as the Daily KOS reflects:

The Dems are a joke right now. They remind me of two dwarf rabbits we have running around our house. The poor things, being at the bottom of the food chain, live in perpetual fear for their lives.

Indeed, Ireland opines that “Dems have been cowed for so long by Bush’s war-driven poll-numbers that they seem to have gotten out of the habit of directly attacking him.”

More importantly, Jules Witcover of the Baltimore Sun argues, candidates need to stop musing over who supports and doesn’t support the use of force in a war that’s already over :

…[I]f Democratic candidates settle for a televised wrestling match over which of them was right and wrong on the Iraq invasion, they are likely only to reinforce the political advantage Mr. Bush enjoys as a result of it.

Some say the problem at hand is simply the Democrats’ disconcerting inability to establish a viable force against Bush — both as individual candidates and a party as a whole. “Anyone hoping that the clash of the candidates will — in a creation-through-conflict process — lead to a killer Democratic message could not have been too encouraged by [the debate],” writes David Corn of The Nation.

So what, then, is required of the Dems, in order to present a real challenge in the next presidential election? The analysts argue that Democrats need to avoid what Witcover calls “petty bickering” over budgets, healthcare reform, and where they stand on the nation’s military might. What the Dems face now, Witcover asserts, is “a bankruptcy of serious ideas along with a disunity that the party out of power can ill afford in taking on a popular incumbent president.” Ireland prescribes more than just a well-rehearsed and dynamic candidate. What the party needs to beat out the “single-minded [vision] of the Bush conservatives,” he writes, is “an alternative vision of the purpose and meaning of government against those who would dismantle it.”

Law & Justice
Batter… Batter… Swing!

California shoplifters and energy companies may have something in common in the near future. California Senator Gloria Romero has introduced a bill that would hold corporations accountable for criminal activity in much the same way that street criminals are held accountable: Three strikes and you’re out.

According to Lee Drutman, the Communications Director for Citizen Works,

“Corporations break the law over and over again, knowing that they do not have to worry about winding up in jail (after all, how can you put a corporation in jail?). They might get fined, but many corporations view fines as merely the cost of doing business, finding it more profitable to ignore health, safety, and other regulations and risk paying a fine. Just as street criminals will break the law over and over if they are not presented with an adequate deterrent, corporate criminals will do the the same.”

For corporations that commit a first and second offense, the law would require a corporation to disclose the offense on the Internet and in full-page ads in major newspapers throughout the state. A third offense would strip the business of both its charter and its right to conduct business in California. Advocacy groups and trial attorneys would like to see the law serve as a deterrent to third violations.

Associated Press writer, Steve Lawrence reports,

” “If this is good enough for individual felons in California, it’s certainly appropriate for the Enrons of the world,’ says Carmen Balber, a consumer advocate.”