THE RACE IS ON, and democracy begins with knowledge. The B-Side’s two part feature examines six of the frontrunning candidates: Barack Obama (Democrat, in blue), John McCain and Rudy Guiliani (both Republicans, in red) this week and John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney next week.
The “Dean Scream” portion of each profile describes possible Achilles Heels for each candidate (harkening back to Howard Dean’s infamous roar which ended his 2004 bid for president) provided by UVM Political Science professor John P. Burke.
Out of the countless issues confronting voters, The B-Side chose four important to the UVM population. These four are not, by any means, the most or the only critical issues facing college students today – it is important to decide for oneself on what basis to choose a candidate. This feature aims to provide a starting point on the long path to the ballot box.
Barack ObamaJunior Senator from Illinois, Former University of Chicago Lecturer, Lawyer
BARACK OBAMAWar in Iraq
“Our troops have performed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s war.”
What he’s done:
¥ Introduced the Iraq War De-escalation Act, 1/07; would prohibit troop redeployment no later than 5/1/07, and set a timetable that would remove all combat brigades from Iraq by 3/31/08.
¥ Voted NO on initial resolution for military action against Iraq.
¥ Has voted YES on four different spending increases for the war, totaling over $300 billion.
Same Sex Marriage
“I don’t think marriage is a civil right, but I think that not being discriminated against is a civil right.”
What he’s done:¥ Voted NO on Senate closure vote on the gay marriage amendment which failed to pass.
“There may still be disputes about exactly how much we’re contributing to the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere and how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushingus to the point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are dondemningfuture generations to global catastrophe.”
What he’s done:¥ Was on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the 109th Congress.¥ Co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act.¥ Introduced the American Fuels Act with Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN).¥ Voted for the EPA’s Clean Air Mercury Rule, which set a timetable for decreasing mercury emissions.¥ Joined Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) in reintroducing the biofuels Security Act, which calls for 60 billion gallons of renewable biofuel into the nation’s vehicle fuel supply by the year 2030.¥ Co-authored legislation for the Alternative Diesel Standard, which regulates diesel fuel and requires 2 billion gallons of alternative fuels.¥ Author of the Fuel Economy Reform Act.
“[The U.S. must] extend presumption of good faith to abortion protesters as they had once done in this country. I suggested that perhaps we could agree on the ways to reduce the number of women who felt the need to have abortions in the first place.”
What he’s done:¥ Voted YES on $100 million to decrease teen pregnancy rates via education and contraceptives.¥ Voted YES on legislation that would allow federal funding to stem cell research.
Obama started in the Senate in only 2005, and before that was just an Illinois state senator. Is that enough background and experience to be president? Do we really know where he stands on domestic, economic and foreign policy?
John McCainCurrent Senior Senator of Arizona, Former U.S. Navy Captain, Vietnam P.O.W.
War in Iraq
“Iraq is truly the test of a generation, for America and for our role in the world. Faced with similar challenges, previous generations of Americans have passed such tests with honor. It is now our turn to demonstrate that our power, ennobled by our principles, is the greatest force for good on earth today.”
What he’s done:¥ Believes the Iraq War was necessary after years of failed diplomacy.¥ Believes sending in a heavy wave of troops to Iraq will establish order.¥ Votes YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.¥ Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by 7/07.
Same Sex Marriage
“The constitutional amendment we’re debating … strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans.”
What he’s done:¥ Voted NO on constitutional ban on same sex marriage.¥ Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage by federal law.¥ Has claimed that he would be “comfortable” with a gay president.¥ Has said that gay marriage should be left to the states.
“The idea that Washington knows best and that local residents cannot be trusted to do what’s right in their own backyard is the epitome of federal arrogance.”
What he’s done:¥ Voted NO on reducing funds for road-building in National Forests¥ Voted NO on continuing desert protection in California¥ Voted YES on including oil and gas smokestacks in mercury regulations¥ Voted YES on requiring EPA risk assessments¥ Has called the Bush administration’s views about human-caused climate change “terribly disappointing.”
“I am proud of my pro-life record in public life. As a leader of a pro-life party with a pro-life position, I will persuade young Americans [to] understand the importance of the preservation of the rights of the unborn.”
What he’s done:¥ Voted YES on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime.¥ Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions except for protection of maternal life.¥ Voted YES on maintaining ban on military base abortions.¥ Voted NO on $100 million to reduce teen pregnancy by education and contraceptives.
The GOP right-wing hates him despite high conservative voting scores in Senate and strong support for Bush Iraq policy. GOP base doesn’t like his stance on immigration reform and campaign finance. At 70, age may be a factor; he is even older than Reagan was in 1980. Is he ‘yesterday’s news’?
Rudy GuilianiFormer May of New York City, Lawyer
War in Iraq
“To liberate people, give them a chance for accountable, decent government and rid the world of a pillar of support for global terrorism is something for which all those involved from Bush to the brave men and women of our armed forces should be proud. Bush has also focused on the correct long-term answer for the violence and hatred emerging from the Middle East.”
What he’s done:¥ No specific action taken. Web site states “he believes setting an artificial timetable for withdrawal from Iraq now would be a terrible mistake, because it would only emboldenour enemies. Iraq is only one front in the larger war on terror, and failure there would lead to a broader and bloodier regional conflict in the near future.”
Same Sex Marriage
“I’m proud of [the New York City Domestic Partner’s Bill, which would extend benefits the city has to provide for same sex couples]. I think it puts New York City ahead of other places in the country.”
What he’s done:¥ Passed a New York City Domestic Partnership Law, extending the benefits of same sex couples within the city (later overturned by Mayor Bloomberg).¥ Moved in with gay couple after divorce from his wife in 2000.
Rudy Giuliani has not made any substantial remarks regarding his stance on environmental issues.
What he’s done:¥ Supports Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant which supplies New York City with 30% of its electricity.
¥ Called air in New York City “safe and acceptable” within first month after 9/11, although the United States Geological Survey determined that a portion of lower Manhattan had been contaminated by highly toxic and caustic materials.
What he’s done:¥ No specific action taken, has claimed to be pro-choice and pro-partial birth abortions.
Is a straight talker like McCain, but can he survive the long haul without slipping up with a major verbal gaffe? Support for gay rights and abortion rights may hurt him if a more viable, more conservative GOP candidate builds some momentum. Look for the media to do a number on him about some of the more controversial decisions as mayor. His drag performances on YouTube are just the start.