Who would make the best President?
By Steve Kirsch
January 6, 2008
Before the 2000 Presidential election, I published an
analysis of George Bush which urged people not to vote for Bush because he would be a disaster as
President since he had a track record of ignoring facts, ignoring science, and twisting the facts to support his
misguided beliefs. Even though the evidence was there for everyone to see, most
people don't look beyond the sound bites and nobody else predicted this. As everyone
now knows, I was right on the money with my prediction.
I decided to do a similar in-depth analysis of the top 3 Democratic
candidates for President for this election. You'll be surprised at what I found.
I sure was. When I started the research, I was undecided. A month later it was
obvious that the evidence consistently showed that was one very clear standout
among the top 3 candidates: John Edwards.
My methodology was the same as I used in 2000, i.e., if you want to know the truth about these
candidates, you have to look beyond the surface. You must look at the facts
that they are not telling you. Those hidden
facts paint a very consistent picture for each candidate.
The four most compelling arguments for Edwards were:
- Electability: The key objective is to get a Democrat elected in
November. To understand who has the best chance, you must look at the
polling data only in the battleground states. When you do that, you
find that Edwards gives you the greatest margin of victory against any
Republican challenger whereas the other two candidates can lose. Therefore,
Edwards is the Democrats safest bet by a wide margin. For example, in the
battleground state of Ohio, only Edwards beats all Republican challengers,
and he beats them all by a wide margin (13.25%).
- Ability to bring about change: Both Obama and Edwards were singled out as change agents
in the Iowa caucuses. But when you look at Obama's most recent legislation, such as his
Care for Hybrids" bill, you find that Obama pays for the auto
companies healthcare costs, but he doesn't require them to change! His bill
doesn't require them to produce more hybrids (that requirement isn't even
mentioned anywhere), and it doesn't require them to
improve their average fuel economy even by 1 mile per gallon (see Sec
102(c)(4)). Edwards would require change. Obama simply makes
change optional. It's pretty plain as day if you read the bill. But the
press and Obama's competitors failed to do their basic homework and check
him out to see if the walk matches the talk. That's not the kind of "change" America needs.
I've asked Obama supporters to defend their candidate on his track record
using this bill as an example and one told me that this isn't important;
that Obama has talent and integrity.
- Global warming: Edwards has been out front with the most
aggressive global warming plan from the beginning. He handily won the MoveOn
townhall meeting on global warming. Obama and Clinton are both laggards on
this critical issue. For example, Obama and Clinton signed onto the
Sanders-Boxer global warming bill 4 months after it was introduced (and
several months after Dodd) and they both signed on to the bill on the same
day, within hours of each other. If they were real leaders on global
warming, they would have co-sponsored the Sanders-Boxer bill, known as the "gold standard
of climate change bills" from day 1. In addition, Obama still is a proponent
of coal to liquids which is a technology which emits twice the global
warming gases of the fuel it replaces. It's a big step in the wrong
- Leadership ability: Obama said he didn't sign on to Sanders-Boxer
because it couldn't pass. So why did he sign on 4 months later (since the
support had not changed). And leaders take the right position and convince
others to follow, so Obama and Clinton also displayed a lack of leadership
by not supporting this key legislation soon after it was introduced. Their
I found that Clinton and Obama failed to show the leadership ability that our
country needs. For example, on the most critical Iraq "blank check" funding
vote, both Clinton and Obama refused to disclose how they were going to vote
until after the vote. That's absurd. A leader takes a position and persuades
people to follow. The Iraq war is a critical issue for this country and both
Clinton and Obama failed to lead. They even failed to speak out before the vote.
On the other top issue, global warming, which many of us believe is
the issue, Clinton and Obama also have failed to
lead. For example, they both signed on to the "gold standard" global warming
bill on the same day (within hours of each other) 4 months after introduction,
after it was politically "safe" to do so.
Again, that's not leadership. They are just good followers. They will go where
it is safe. And America doesn't need a leader who is a follower.
America needs a leader who is a leader, especially on climate change. At the
rate things are going, there is more than a 5% chance humans will be mostly extinct in
less than 100 years from now (based on the IPCC consensus; see
How it will end for the
specific references to all the science that supports this). Our best (and maybe only) chance to reverse this is with the next
President. That is why this election is so critical.
But the most important aspect by far is to elect a Democrat as President. All
the Democrats say that the differences between them are minor compared to the
Republicans. Even front-runner Clinton has said that. We should take her advice
and look at the polling in the battleground states and choose the candidate who
provides the greatest margin of victory against any Republican challenger. When
you do that, you find that the answer again is Edwards. 50% of Americans won't
vote for Hillary. Rasmussen shows her losing to Guiliani.by 3 points while, in
the same poll, Edwards crushes Guiliani.
All year long, poll after poll has shown that John Edwards is the strongest
and most electable candidate in the race. Democrat or Republican. Period. All
too often, as Democrats, we have nominated candidates who are popular with our
base but cannot attract the necessary cross-over voters to win the White House.
Think Mondale, Dukakis, and Kerry. If we want to change this country, we need to
win in November and John Edwards is our best shot to do it. Have you noticed
that Clinton and Obama never tout their electability?
The most recent CNN debate on December 13, 2007 showed that Edwards was the
choice of uncommitted voters in Iowa who watched the debate, with a commanding
lead over the other candidates (there was also a Fox news selected focus group
and Edwards scored even higher with more than half the vote):
CNN Focus Group Declared Edwards the Winner. A CNN focus group of
23 undecided registered Democrats in Iowa who watched the debate declared
John Edwards the winner of the debate. CNN’s Mary Snow: “Twenty-three
registered Democrats came in here undecided. We asked them who they felt
performed the best in this debate and they concluded they felt that John
Edwards performed the best, with Senator Clinton right behind him. Now of
course, this is unscientific, but also the other question posed to them. If
the election were held today, who would you vote for? And in that question,
John Edwards came in first, Senator Barack Obama second, and Senator Clinton
came in third.” Those participating in the CNN dial group said they would
vote for Edwards. “If you were going to vote today, for whom would you
vote?”: Edwards 39%, Obama 26%, Clinton 22%. [CNN, 12/13/07]
I made a chart of the strengths and
weaknesses of each candidate. Here are some of the highlights of the
- She's not electable. This is the key point all Democrats should be talking
about. Sure, she is the favorite of Democrats. But what's the point if our
candidate isn't liked by enough Republicans to win in the general election?
If we think with our minds instead of our hearts, that's the metric we should be using
to decide our candidate...we should be asking ourselves not which candidate
we like; we should be asking which candidate we like that the Republicans do
too. If we
nominate Hillary, she'll likely lose to any Republican challenger. So what's
the point in nominating someone that will likely lose? But if we nominate
Edwards or Obama, they'll likely win against any Republican challenger. So
if you want a Republican president, vote for Hillary. As you can see, she's
the only top Democratic candidate who LOSES to all Republicans!
Zogby National '08 Match-ups, online survey of 9,150 likely voters,
National General Election Match-ups:
47%, Thompson 40%
45%, McCain 38%
46%, Huckabee 40%
46%, Romney 40%
46%, Giuliani 41%
45%, Thompson 42%
44%, Romney 42%
44%, Giuliani 43%
43%, Huckabee 42%
42%, McCain 42%
- Her campaign theme has been "strength and experience." But in December,
the NY Times looked into the "experience" (see
The Résumé Factor Those 8 Years as First Lady - New York Times) only to
find that she was by and large a listener, rather than a participant in
decision making. So we should judge her on those decisions she made based on
all that experience. Decisions like voting for the Iraq war and telling Gore
not to go to Kyoto. More importantly, she has not admitted her
original vote on Iraq was a mistake. So can you name one decision she made
that impressed you with her "experience"? Can you name one piece of
legislation that she championed that impressed you? If not, then what
decisions are you basing your vote on?
- She triangulates her positions to try to please everyone. For example,
both Clintons told Gore NOT to go to Kyoto because it would be a bad move
politically. So they make calculations based on political impact, rather
than what the country needs. That's just plain bad. It's why of the 3
candidates, she's my least favorite.
- Check out this
video. This was all in the same debate! Leadership?
- Clinton gets more big business donations than the other candidates. See
McCain trails Giuliani, Clinton in money from drug companies, hedge funds -
The Business Journal of Phoenix. A recent Fortune magazine cover
declared "Big business loves Hillary!" The point is the special interests
like her. They aren't stupid. They know who will help them the most. By
contrast, John Edwards has declared war on special interest control of
Congress. He has the least amount of corporate support of the top contenders
of both parties. If you believe the special interests should control
Congress, Clinton is your best bet. If you think Congress should do what is
in the people's best interests, vote for Edwards.
- She's been talking about the need for universal health care for more
than 15 years, but as of September 6, 2007, she still hadn't proposed a
universal health plan! If she
can't even come up with a proposal after 15 years of working on this issue,
then how do you think she's going to perform on other important issues? At
best, things are going to get done very slowly, if at all, under her
administration because it takes her too long to decide what she is going to
do. Even if she later introduces a health care plan, you still have to ask
yourself...why did it her take more than 15 years to do this when her
competitors are able to do it in just months? One of her supporters told me that
she knows what she wants to do, but she is afraid of being crushed by the
special interests if she unveiled it now. When I pointed out that the other
candidates did not get crushed and true leaders are not afraid of criticism
(i.e., real leaders have courage), I was told that it was a non-issue because
all the candidates are in favor of universal healthcare and the real issue
is their ability to get something done. Well, OK, but I'm baffled as to how
you get stuff done if you are too afraid of talking about what you think
should be done. Just one day later I was told by the same person who gave me
all those excuses that she would be announcing her policy next Monday on
September 17. But the real questions will still be "why did it take so long"
and "why did your people give out excuses that changed from day to day, none
of which were true" (since if those excuses I was told were true, she never
would have announced her plan)? Now that it is announced, it is not that
different from the plan that John Edwards introduced many months earlier. Many
people, including NY Times columnist Paul Krugman have pointed out that the
Edwards and Clinton plans are extremely similar. Krugman wrote, "Still, she
did deliver a plan, and it's as strong as the Edwards plan ... the Clinton
plan basically is the Edwards plan." Here's an
from MyDD entitled "Hillary Endorses Edwards' Health Care Plan"
which points out that her health care plan isn't substantially different
from Edwards other than it took her 7 months longer (with a 15 year head
start) to get there.
- She is afraid to tell people where she stands and ask people to follow
her. Look at her Iraq vote on May 24, 2007. She refused to tell anyone how
she would vote before the vote. I thought the point was to get out of Iraq.
Why didn't she tell everyone before the vote that she was going to vote
against giving Bush a blank check on the war? What was she afraid of? Where
is the courage of her convictions? And if
she really wanted to end the war, then why didn't she urge any of her
supporters to call their Senators to urge them to vote "No"? I know why
because I asked her that question myself. She said she
wanted to avoid the "media frenzy." But a real leader would
welcome the publicity
because she would be able to get her message out to a broader audience.
Instead of asking her supporters to help end the war (like Edwards was
doing), she was instead emailing them
asking them what they thought her campaign theme song should be. Her
failure of leadership on this critical issue is one reason why the Senate
failed to stop the Iraq war. Obama didn't speak out either. This has nothing
to do with the fact they are Senators and running for President because the
other Senators who were running for President did speak out. This incident
is a clear demonstration of a lack of courage and poor leadership judgment.
And this wasn't just a minor issue. This is THE #1 issue for Americans. So
if she's not going to be a leader or have courage on this issue, why should
we believe it will happen on other issues?
- Clinton voted against the Kerry-Feingold Amendment in 2006. That
have set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
- Clinton endorsed Lieberman in the Connecticut primary. Lieberman has
been one of the few pro-Iraq war Democrats.
- Mark Penn is both her pollster and her chief policy advisor. This
is a very telling indicator. It is saying that she is a follower of public opinion, rather than
a leader. Do you think Bush takes public opinion polls before he decides his
positions? Of course not. He makes decisions based on his judgment as to
what is best for America (too bad he has incredibly poor judgment). You
cannot be a follower of public opinion and do what is best for America. For
example, The US must take a
leadership role in global warming. That means we need a
President who is going to recognize what needs to be done and is going to go
out and actually change public opinion in order to accomplish it . That's what
leadership is all about and she hasn't got it. She's never going to ask you
to change your mind, even when it is in the public's best interest. Do you
recall her ever doing that? Her
global warming leadership is non-existent. She's a reluctant follower. There
is nothing in her energy policy that "pushes the envelope." Zero. She doesn't even
have any goals for global warming. Yikes! The most important issue of all
time and she doesn't have any measurable greenhouse gas reduction goals
beyond the same "80% by 2050" goal that everyone talks about? She's not
going to be around in 2050. She needs an emissions reduction goal to
accomplish during her term. There isn't one. November 6, 2007 update:
she finally announced her energy plan and it mimics the goals in the Boxer
bill for 2020 and 2050. The EU countries are commiting to way more than this
goal; they are committing to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. Their leaders
are committed to be leaders on climate change. Clinton's plan is for the US
not to be a leader on climate change and instead cut by a minimum amount
which is calculated assuming everyone else cuts the same amount (which they
- Like Bush, she has a perfectionist complex and cannot admit she
made a mistake. She has
never apologized for her Iraq vote. If she doesn't admit mistakes, then just
like Bush, our country will be locked in to her mistakes. We will be told to
"stay the course" on obvious mistakes (like Iraq) because otherwise, it
would be an admission that she made a mistake and she cannot do that. This
is extremely dangerous.
- Collaborative? Privately, I've talked to several people who meet with her
and they tell me she doesn't listen.
- She is not a believer in government transparency when it applies to her. For example, during
her health care program in 1993 was done in secret meetings. It was a huge
failure. Has she changed? Apparently not. Look how she responded to the
most important crisis of her campaign, the donations from Norman Hsu, one of
her top fundraisers and a convicted criminal. When the press broke the
story, The New York Times reported on September 12 that Clinton
refused to respond to requests from the press to release the names of the
260 donors that Hsu had recruited to the campaign. Is this the type of "open
government" you want where when a scandal breaks, the President will
withhold information from the press. Why? What is she afraid of? Why
shouldn't the press be allowed to investigate? The answer is that Clinton's
reputation is more important than the public's right to know the truth about
what happened here. Open government? I don't think so.
- Because she is a follower, her policies on the top issues are weak to
non-existent. Her health care plan was non-existent until just recently. Her global warming plan
is so weak that it doesn't even talk about limiting the construction of new coal
plants, something that is critical if we want to reduce our emissions. In short, she refuses to adopt even the most basic policy steps to keep the
problem from getting worse. We're not even talking about steps to make it
better. She won't even do the things required to keep the problem from
getting worse! What kind of leadership is that?
- In August, John Edwards asked Senator Clinton to join him in taking the
Democratic Party on the first step towards real reform—to become the first
party to refuse and reject the money of Washington lobbyists.
She refused. She thinks it is just fine to take money from lobbyists and
at the Kos conference for saying that.
- Environmentalists who have met with her privately tell me she
understands the importance and the urgency of the global warming problem, but she, like her
husband, is simply unwilling to actually take the steps necessary to tackle
- On the "gold standard" climate change bill in the Senate, she signed as
a co-sponsor 4 months after the bill was introduced and after 12 other
Senators signed on. Global warming is the most important issue in our
lifetimes. This is simply yet another confirming example that she's not a leader;
she's a follower. And to make things worse,
she signed on to the bill silently with not even a press release. How do you
lead people to follow you if you take positions only after it is safe and
even then are afraid to tell them what positions you
- People close to her tell me she thinks like a Senator, not like a
President. She thinks about how to change her policies in order to get the
votes she needs when she should be thinking about how to get people to
change their minds to support what needs to be done. Contrast that with
Bush; Bush decides what needs to be done, then convinces Congress he's right
(even when he isn't) and to support him (even when they shouldn't). Too bad Bush always makes terrible decisions. But at
least he makes decisions and gets others to follow. Clinton does the
opposite; she lets others determine what she can do.
- Can you think of anything that got done with respect to global warming
when Bill Clinton was President? He had 8 years to do something and he had a
Vice President (Al Gore) who knew the issue. Can you recall one thing he got
done? I can't. They didn't even raise fuel economy standards by 1 mile per
gallon. They wouldn't send the Kyoto treaty to the Senate for
ratification. So what action did Hillary take in the past that makes you think Hillary will be a more effective
President than Bill on this critical issue?
- I have no problem whatsoever with a woman President. If Senator Barbara
Boxer were running for President, she'd have my vote in a heartbeat. Why?
Because Boxer always stands up for, fights for, and is a leader for the
public interest. Boxer takes courageous stances all the time, often alone. I
know this because I've seen it first hand on a bill that she and I worked on
where she was the only member of the Senate willing to stand up for the
Then she convinces others to change their minds. But Senator Clinton isn't in the same leadership class. A
leader would never have acted the way she did on the Iraq funding vote I
- Could I be wrong about her? I think it is very unlikely. Sir David King, Chief Scientific
Advisor to the British Government, has said that global warming is the
biggest problem that civilization has ever been confronted with. That's a
pretty strong statement. He didn't say it was just a problem or that
it is the biggest problem today. He said it is the biggest
problem ever. That's "ever" as in "for all time." And he's
absolutely right about that
based on the research
I've done into climate change. So how does Clinton respond to this
problem? Well, she has no goal in her plan. She's has strategies, but she
has not articulated a goal in her plan, it's just strategies: she's going to
put in place a cap-and-trade system, a Strategic Energy Fund, and a few
other things. There is nothing in her plan that says what greenhouse gas
reduction goals she wants to achieve by 2020 and beyond. Every leader knows
that specific measurable goals are the hallmark of leadership. To not have
specific measurable goals for the most important problem facing our
civilization is unacceptable. How can you put together a plan if you can't
articulate what the goal should be? Also, I know for sure she knows that the lack
of a specific goal is an issue with her policy because I wrote her a memo
about it and she told me herself she read my memo. So not only should she
have done it on her own, but having been brought to her specific attention,
still nothing happens. Nor does she address the transportation sector at all in
her plan. Power generation and transportation are the two biggest emission
sources. How can you be silent about transportation? And she's not even come
out and said "no new coal plants without sequestration." I don't have a clue
how you can possibly save the planet and still continue to do things that
make the problem worse. Clinton never explains that. Of course, when there
are no goals, there is no accountability, so she doesn't have to explain
anything. We simply cannot elect a leader in 2008 who doesn't articulate specific goals
on greenhouse gas reduction. There are plenty of other candidates for
President who have clearly articulated specific measurable goals for greenhouse gas reductions
and plans that are aligned with meeting the goals. Please do yourself and
the rest of humanity a favor and pick one of them to support.
- She signed on to the
McCain-Lieberman climate bill on 1/26/07. That was 10 days after 10 other
Senators signed on to the
Sanders-Boxer bill. In short, Clinton knew about
both bills, but she chose only to co-sponsor the weaker bill rather than the
gold-standard Sanders-Boxer bill that
environmentalists unanimously cheering. Then, more
than 3 months later, she signs on to the "gold standard" Sanders-Boxer bill
and she now
her support of Sanders-Boxer in interviews as proof she is tough on climate change.
But nobody has pointed out the interesting timing so the press has never asked her on why, on
January 26, 2007, with both bills on the table, she chose only to co-sponsor
the weaker bill and then, more than 3 months later that she suddenly signs onto Sanders-Boxer
which had not changed at all since introduction! Hard to explain that one,
isn't it? I have an explanation: Obama signed on just a few hours before she
did. Think that was just an amazing coincidence? The bottom line is we need a President who is tough on climate
change; not someone who follows the herd.
agrees. They said this about her climate change plan: "dutifully
Democratic line on climate change...vague on the details...Where she
mentions specific solutions, she tends to focus on "clean coal" and
ethanol...Clinton is ...not out front." I can guarantee you this: clean coal
is at least a decade away according to one of our top climate change experts
(Jim Hansen). I can also guarantee that every climate expert I've talked
with says we need to take serious action right now. Her emphasis to solve
the problem now is to wait for decades and hope that technologies will be
available in the future. We need to solve the problem now, not in decades.
And there are great technologies available right now. Today, California
doesn't rely on coal; it's illegal! Clinton will not lead this country to
energy independence and her failure to emphasize and deploy technologies we
have to today to reduce our emissions will lead to irreversible climate
change consequences. Ask any climate change expert; they'll tell you the
exact same thing.
- Polls show that Clinton's core support comes from people with less
education. The more educated you are, the more likely you are to prefer
Edwards and Obama. There's a reason for that. The
poll on 10/22/07 had Edwards at 4112, Obama at 2164, and Clinton at
- On September 26, 2007, she voted in favor of the
Kyl-Lieberman Amendment on Iran which essentially gives the Bush
administration authorization to take military action against Iran. This of
course risks starting yet another war. All of Clinton's opponents voted the
opposite way (except Obama who did not vote). The top 6 members of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including the leading Senate Republicans
on Foreign Policy, Chuck Hagel and Dick Luger, ALL OPPOSED IT .
- Her campaign is scripted to look good. Nobody else does this. Some of
the questions are planted and she is told who to call on.
Clinton aides plant
- Obama is my #2 choice. He's made some pretty bad mistakes (supporting
coal to liquids being one of his worst), but unlike Clinton, he's not afraid
to tell people the truth and he's not afraid to buck the system and piss
people off. His biggest problem is that he is too much of "meet in the
middle" type of negotiator which is reflected in the legislation he has
written in Congress which is very mediocre and ineffective (see
the detailed analysis for analysis of each
bill). At least he has the potential to be great.
- Obama talks a great game. He's very inspirational speaker. If he really
walked the talk, I'd vote for him in a heartbeat. But the problem is that
when you do the research on his legislation, and when you analyze his
response to some very telling questions, you come away disappointed. Really disappointed.
Based on what I uncovered, I think it's far more likely that he'd get little done and could even make
some really important problems that we have worse (such as global warming).
He's a compromiser. He's not a leader. David Sirota found the same thing
when he looked under the hood. See
Obama Goes to Washington which appeared in The Nation.
- Obama has brought up electability as important and cited a poll showing
he was the most electable candidate. However, it was only one poll. So if
agree with Obama's argument that electability is key, Edwards is by far the
better choice...according to virtually ever other poll.
- Think he wants to end the war in Iraq? He sure talks tough. I just got a
mailing from his campaign that says, "I opposed this war from the beginning.
I opposed the war in 2002. I opposed it in 2003. I opposed it in 2004. I
opposed it in 2005. I opposed it in 2006. And I introduced a plan this
January to remove all of our combat brigades by March 2008." It sure sounds
convincing, doesn't it? It sure does if you don't do your homework! What he hoping you'll never find
out is that according to
Wikipedia, "Obama sponsored 152 bills and resolutions
brought before the 109th Congress in 2005 and 2006, and
cosponsored another 427." None of these were related to ending
the war in Iraq. Additionally, "once Obama got to Washington [in 2005], he
made only one Senate speech on Iraq."
The full analysis has even more examples of his lack of interest in ending
the Iraq war. If he is such a great leader, why didn't he actually do
something about it? It's easy to have opinions and do nothing. Sirota found
the same thing (see
Obama Goes to Washington).
- Like Clinton, Obama voted against the Kerry-Feingold Amendment in 2006
that would have set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. So he brags he
introduced a plan in 2007 that would set a timetable for withdrawal. But
when he had a chance back in 2006 to vote for such a time table for
withdrawal, he voted against it! See the full
analysis for details (search for Kerry-Feingold). OK, so why doesn't he
explain why he wasn't for a timetable then, but is for it now?
- A President Obama wouldn't be much different than President Bush with
respect to removing troops from Iraq. CNN reported that
announced his plan for reducing troops on September 12 in Clinton, Iowa.
Obama would withdraw troops "at a pace of one or two brigades every month."
So it could take as much as 10 months under Obama's plan just to reduce the
troops to pre-surge levels. That's not much faster than the rate that
President Bush wants to withdraw the troops (reduce to pre-surge levels in
10 months). Contrast that with what Senator Clinton would do (she didn't
say), or with what Edwards would do (immediately withdraw 40,000 to 50,000
- Obama endorsed Lieberman in the Connecticut primary. Lieberman has been
one of the few pro-Iraq war Democrats.
- Like Clinton, when the vote to whether to continue to fund the Iraq war came up, he
refused to tell people how he would vote before the vote. Instead of urging
his supporters to tell their members of Congress to vote against
giving Bush a blank check to fund the war, he instead asked them help
organize a walk to support his campaign. Obama's failure of leadership on
this critical issue is a key reason why the Senate failed to stop the Iraq
- Obama was the head of the "Coal to Liquids" caucus in the Senate. This
is a technique for turning coal into gasoline and diesel. The problem is
that it makes global warming far worse if you do this. Environmental groups kept pointing this out to him and he
kept ignoring them and not changing his opinion. I talked to one prominent
leader who approached him on this issue and Obama just smiled and walked
away. He only recently modified
his position but it took a long long time for him to do that. If he really
wants to end global warming, he'd never have taken a position like this that
was opposed by every single environmental group. So why did he do it? He
because we have a lot of coal in our country so we should use it. But that's stupid
and dangerous. The key problems we need
to solve are energy independence and global warming and you can solve both
problems without Coal to Liquids. That's what he should be looking at. He
should look at what solutions are available and pick the solutions that
solve the problems we face at the lowest cost. So
his decision making process is flawed and he clearly is not afraid to ignore
the advice of environmental groups and instead heed the advice of the coal lobby.
So we have a bad decision maker who lacks leadership skills and sides with
the special interests rather than the public interest. That makes
him a worse choice than Clinton.
- Some people told me Obama supports coal because his home state is a coal
state. But Obama is running for President, not Senator. You simply cannot
advocate a position that can result in the
destruction of humanity in
less than 100 years for short term economic advantage of a single state.
That's an irresponsible position for a candidate for President to take. It
would mean thumbing our noses at the EU countries which are willing to make
dramatic cuts if the US is willing to join them. What kind of leadership is
that? And for what gain? So he can preserve his support in Illinois?
- Virtually all of the legislation he has proposed is a zero. He talks
about compromise to get things done and his bills reflect that. The problem
is that the reason both sides agree is that neither side has to change. So
in his "Health
Care for Hybrids" bill, he's willing to pay the healthcare costs for US auto makers, but he's
unwilling to require them to produce more hybrids or improve their fuel economy. He just requires
that the fuel economy not get worse. That's not forward progress. It's
spending billions of taxpayer dollars to get nothing done. He's simply
betting that nobody is going to actually read the legislation. The full analysis
talks in detail about this bill and his other bills. It's the same story. There are so
many escape clauses in his bills that nobody has to change. For example, on
another bill, his bill to raise fuel economy standards, the
Club's analysis of Obama's bill concluded that is was virtually useless.
Is that what we need in this country? A President who proposes legislation
that gets nothing done?
- I confirmed my conclusion that he's not a leader when he
responded to a question I asked him at one of his events. I asked him why it took him 4 months to sign on to
Sanders-Boxer, the "gold standard" climate change bill. He said
there were two reasons: 1) he was already signed on to the (weaker)
McCain-Lieberman bill and 2) he didn't
think Sanders-Boxer could pass and he doesn't sign on to bills if it is only symbolic.
In other words, he just told me point blank to my face: "I AM NOT A LEADER
on climate change issues."
You see, a real leader takes a stand
in the public interest and then works hard to shift opinion to supporting
that stand. A real leader would
recognize this bill as the most important bill in the Senate and sign on
immediately and then he'd go around and try to convince other Senators of
the importance of the bill and encourage them to sign on. In short, leaders
take positions, then convince others. Instead, Obama left the
all leadership to Senator Boxer. And he signed on silently. No press release.
He's never even emailed his supporters to ask them to urge their Senators to
co-sponsor this critical bill. He still hasn't. So the most important issue
that civilization has ever faced,
global warming, is just not important to him.
- Like Clinton, he signed on to the Sanders-Boxer bill after a dozen
Senators had already signed on. If you are serious about being a leader global warming, you
don't wait 4 months on a bill supported by every major environmental group
and called the "gold standard" of climate change bills. And if you
do sign on, you don't sign on silently like he did.
- Can you name one thing that Obama has accomplished that impressed you?
- Edwards is the most electable Democrat, i.e., polls show consistently
that he wins
by the widest margin against all likely Republican challengers. For example,
Edwards Does It Again and
An Ohio electability boost for Edwards.
This is reason enough alone to vote for him. Democrats, if they thought
about it for a second, should vote for the candidate who has the best chance
of beating any Republican, rather than the Democrat that they "prefer" the
most. That candidate is Edwards. He's our best shot at winning the White
House. So unless you know something about Edwards that makes him completely
unacceptable to you, if you want to ensure Democratic control of the White
House, supporting Edwards is your best bet. From
One interesting twist to this year's
early Presidential polling is that Edwards typically outperforms
other leading Democratic hopefuls in general election match-ups
but remains a distant third in the competition for the Democratic
Presidential Nomination. Still, Edwards currently leads the top
four Republican candidates by an average of nearly nine points.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton leads the top GOP
hopefuls by an average of six points while Barack Obama
holds an average lead of five points
Rasmussen Reports on September 14, 2007 concludes: "When the views of
all voters are considered, all of the candidates earn mixed reviews. Edwards
has the highest favorables among all candidates at the moment with 51%."
Note that is candidates from both parties and voters from all parties. So
Edwards is the most electable. Look at that report very carefully. Look at
the margins of victory for Clinton vs. Giuliani and Clinton v. Thompson.
Then look at the same number for Edwards vs. those same top Republicans. See
how the margin of victory is greater if the Democrats nominate Edwards than
Clinton? For the greatest chance of winning the White House, Edwards is the
Democrat's best choice.
- Look at the favorable/unfavorable ratings of each candidate over time below (the
latest is in bold). We should nominate the candidate with the highest
favorable and the lowest unfavorable. Edwards wins on both. He has the
highest favorable and the lowest unfavorable:
Hillary Clinton 49/48 50/48 45/54 47/50 49/49
Obama 48/45 48/42 47/45 50/43 46/47 49/45 47/45
Edwards 54/39 52/42 49/46
48/44 52/41 52/41 51/41
- He's a leader. Look at the same Iraq war funding vote for example example. While the other two
candidates voted silently and refused to tell people where they stood on
whether to fund the war in Iraq, Edwards was repeatedly urging his followers
to tell their Members of Congress to vote against giving Bush the money to
keep the war going. Edwards was outspoken in his opposition to the war and
the need to cut the funding. The other two candidates were silent. It is a
stunning example of the huge leadership difference between Edwards and the
other two top candidates. If you want someone who will lead us out of Iraq,
Edwards should be your choice.
- He's the boldest on the issues. Unlike for the other candidates, his
proposals can actually achieve the goals he talks about. Contrast that with
Clinton where she is afraid to communicate her plans.
- Edwards said that the first day he is sworn in, he will submit
legislation to the Congress that says that if they don't pass Universal
health care by July 20th, then the President, the Congress and all
appointees will lose their health care. Know any other candidate who
has the guts to do that? This way, Members of Congress will get a chance to
experience what 45 million Americans experience.
- First candidate to call for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
- First candidate to make his campaign carbon neutral.
- Edwards won the MoveOn TownHall on climate change with 33% of the total vote.
This is twice as many votes as his nearest opponent.
says Edward's plan on climate change is "far and away the strongest,
climate and energy plan among the three Democratic front-runners"
- He has a plan for universal healthcare. Obama doesn't. Clinton does, but
it's a copy of Edwards' plan.
- Unlike Clinton and Obama, he was in favor of the Kerry-Feingold
Amendment in 2006 that would have set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
- Unlike Clinton and Obama, Edwards refused to endorse Lieberman. He went
further: Edwards was the first major Democrat to come campaign for Lamont
who was against the war in Iraq.
- He's not going to negotiate what's in the public interest. He makes a
huge point of this in his speeches.
- People who know him personally all tell me he is the most honest
politician they've ever known. These references are from people who are top
Democratic fundraisers who know just about everyone. Also, Edwards is the
same way "off camera" as "on camera." So what you see is really how he is.
- He was the first candidate to meet with the heads of the top
environmental groups to talk about global warming. They all came away
impressed with his commitment to take the steps needed to tackle the problem
and agreed that he clearly understood the urgency.
- He's the only candidate with clear priorities. Look at his home page.
There is a "To Do" list that clearly lists his top issues, in priority
- Global warming is his #1 priority. He says it and it on his home page.
Nobody else has clear priorities and nobody else has global warming as the
#1 priority. Trust me on this...he's absolutely right to make it our top
priority. Our survival depends on it.
- Although Edwards did vote originally to authorize the Iraq war, he was
opposed to the war but was "talked into" making that decision. Unlike
Clinton, he has apologized for making that mistake time and time again.
That's critical that a leader has the courage to admit mistakes. Also, from the
experience, he has learned to trust his gut more than his advisors.
- NPR had a piece on him on October 1, 2007 with audio quotes from his
1998 Senate campaign in which he really stressed the need to have a voice in
Washington that would listen to YOU (not the special interests his opponent
served). It says something when you are consistent across a decade's time.
About the research that I did
Global warming is the most important problem our civilization has ever faced.
It must be solved during this President's term. This is the most important vote
you will ever make. We can't afford to get it wrong this time.
So I felt I needed to do my homework because I was very confused as to who I
should support. So in May of 2007, I started as an
undecided voter and I spent about a month pouring over the voting records,
legislation, statements, policies, actions, responses to my questions, and
impressions of others who know the candidates. I wrote up nearly 40 pages of
analysis with references, but that's too long for most people to read, so I
summarized it here.
What I found was that John Edwards was the only candidate who has a good
chance of moving our country forward. Clinton and Obama would make people feel
good, but would get little to nothing accomplished.
The detailed research links are in the section above. A lot of my research focused on global warming and Iraq. I choose those
issue because they are critically important. By analyzing the candidates actions
in-depth with respect to these two issues, you get an excellent sense of how they would
perform on other issues.
My experience has been that if you look at what the candidates did prior to
the start of the primaries as well as early in the primaries, you'll get the
most accurate picture of how they will perform in office if elected. The closer
you get to the primary, the more useless and noisy the data becomes. My
analysis, even though it was done in May, is extremely accurate. The data that I
found was very consistent for each candidate. As a result of the consistency, I
am very confident that what I concluded is an accurate reflection of how each
candidate would perform as President.
Others who have
looked closely at the records of the top 3 candidates have come to the same
conclusion I have.
My criteria for who would make the "best" President might be different than
yours. You may vote for a candidate because you like them or because you think
they have the most experience or because you think they are "more presidential."
I don't do that and I don't think you should either. We have some very very
tough problems to solve. I wanted to find out who would do the best job in
solving these problems. That was my criteria. That is what matters.
And your decision is absolutely critical. If this President does not take
dramatic action on global warming, we will pass a climate tipping point over the
next 8 years at which point climate change is a runaway train, beyond our
ability to stop it (we can only slow it). At the current rate, according to the
is a good chance that human beings will be extinct or nearly extinct in less than 100 years. See my analysis of
how it will end for details. So
you must choose the right candidate if we are to avoid this. We need someone who
has the best chance of winning against any Republican challenger and who has the
best chance of taking extremely serious actions to stop global warming.
There is only one candidate I found that meets both tests: John Edwards.
The analysis was limited to the top 3 candidates due to the limited time I
had to do this (a month) and because it is extremely unlikely that any other
candidate can win.
Finally, based on my definition of leadership, Bush does exhibit some
key leadership skills. For example, even though there was no solid evidence of a
threat, Bush convinced Congress to allow him to invade Iraq. That is a pretty
amazing feat of leadership. Bush's main problem is he makes lousy decisions. Just think
what would happen to America if Bush used the same dogged determination he has
in fighting terrorism into achieving energy independence and stopping global
warming? So he exhibits leadership because he takes positions that he
(incorrectly) thinks are best for
the country and then gets others to tow the line even when they disagree with
him. It's just that Bush makes
boneheaded decisions, ignores science, twists the facts, and he leads us in the
complete opposite direction that we should be going. Overall, he's a terrible
leader; he flunks every
single one of the nine C's of great leaders spelled out in Iacocca's "Where have
all the leaders gone?" book (as Iacocca himself points out in the book).
A final thought
Global warming is a critical problem and unfortunately none of the candidates
above adequately address it (Edwards being the closest by a long shot, but still
not good enough). If you find a candidate for President who can articulate the
following three points and proposes policies to accomplish them without escape
clauses, then you are truly lucky and you've found the person who should be our
- We must adopt an aggressive greenhouse gas emission goal by 2020
which is at least as good as what the EU countries are already
willing to do (which is a 20% cut from 1990 levels by 2020) and have
policies that are necessary and sufficient to realistically achieve
- We must provide regulations or incentives to clean up the power
grid as soon as possible so that our power generation is near zero emissions
- The cheapest way to power our vehicles is also the cleanest: we must plug-in the transportation, e.g., encourage or require
the production and purchase of full performance battery electric
vehicles (FPBEV) and plug-in PHEVs with a large all electric range (AER).
For more information
Who would make the best President? (Summary)
I take one specific example, the Iraq war funding vote, and analyze the
candidates based on their actions on this critical vote to end the Iraq war. I
guarantee that you'll be absolutely amazed at the differences and they are
crystal clear in this example and there are no excuses.
Comparing the candidates based on voting
Want a quick way to compare the candidates? This is it!
Who would make the best President? (full
My full analysis. Long and covers a lot of issues, but worth reading if you
have the time. Full of references to source material that backs up the analysis.
Comparing the top 3 Democratic candidates
A summary chart of the pros and cons of the top 3 candidates in my view
How it will end
This article describes the irreversible consequences of our failure to choose
the right person for President.
Others who have written about this comparison include:
About the author
Steve Kirsch is a philanthropist and entrepreneur based in San Jose, CA. He is
CEO of Abaca, an anti-spam company. He has
donated millions of dollars to environmental and world safety issues.
Email: stk@ propel.com.
Steve Kirsch home page