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:

  1. 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%).
  2. 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 signature "Health 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.
  3. 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 direction.
  4. 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 competitors did.

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 full analysis:


  1. 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:
    Huckabee 44%, Clinton 39%
    Thompson 44%, Clinton 40%
    McCain 42%, Clinton 38%
    Giuliani 43%, Clinton 40%
    Romney 43%, Clinton 40%
    Obama 47%, Thompson 40%
    Obama 45%, McCain 38%
    Obama 46%, Huckabee 40%
    Obama 46%, Romney 40%
    Obama 46%, Giuliani 41%
    Edwards 45%, Thompson 42%
    Edwards 44%, Romney 42%
    Edwards 44%, Giuliani 43%
    Edwards 43%, Huckabee 42%
    Edwards 42%, McCain 42%
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. Check out this video. This was all in the same debate! Leadership?
  5. 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.
  6. 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 article 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.
  7. 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?
  8. Clinton voted against the Kerry-Feingold Amendment in 2006. That amendment would have set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
  9. Clinton endorsed Lieberman in the Connecticut primary. Lieberman has been one of the few pro-Iraq war Democrats.
  10. 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 will not).
  11. 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.
  12. Collaborative? Privately, I've talked to several people who meet with her and they tell me she doesn't listen.
  13. 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.
  14. 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?
  15. 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 got loudly booed at the Kos conference for saying that.
  16. 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 the problem.
  17. 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 are taking?
  18. 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.
  19. 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?
  20. 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 public interest. 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 described above. Never.
  21. 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.
  22. She signed on to the weaker 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 has environmentalists unanimously cheering. Then, more than 3 months later, she signs on to the "gold standard" Sanders-Boxer bill and she now touts 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.
  23. Grist.org agrees. They said this about her climate change plan: "dutifully toes the 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.
  24. 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 Daily Kos poll on 10/22/07 had Edwards at 4112, Obama at 2164, and Clinton at 1218.
  25. 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 .
  26. 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 student's question


  1. 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.
  2. 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 Mr. Obama Goes to Washington which appeared in The Nation.
  3. 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.
  4. 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." [8]. 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 Mr. Obama Goes to Washington).
  5. 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?
  6. A President Obama wouldn't be much different than President Bush with respect to removing troops from Iraq. CNN reported that Obama 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 troops).
  7. Obama endorsed Lieberman in the Connecticut primary. Lieberman has been one of the few pro-Iraq war Democrats.
  8. 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 war.
  9. 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 ways it's 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.
  10. 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?
  11. 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 Sierra 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?
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Can you name one thing that Obama has accomplished that impressed you?


  1. 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, see John 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 Rasmussen Reports:
  2. 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

  3. 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.
  4. 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   49/49   49/50
      Barack Obama   48/45  48/42   47/45   50/43   46/47   49/45   47/45
      John Edwards    54/39  52/42   49/46   48/44   52/41   52/41   51/41
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. First candidate to call for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  9. First candidate to make his campaign carbon neutral.
  10. Edwards won the MoveOn TownHall on climate change with 33% of the total vote. This is twice as many votes as his nearest opponent.
  11. Grist.org says Edward's plan on climate change is "far and away the strongest, most comprehensive climate and energy plan among the three Democratic front-runners"
  12. He has a plan for universal healthcare. Obama doesn't. Clinton does, but it's a copy of Edwards' plan.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. He's not going to negotiate what's in the public interest. He makes a huge point of this in his speeches.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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 order.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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 IPCC, there 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 next President:

  1. 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 the goal.
  2. 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
  3. 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 differences
Want a quick way to compare the candidates? This is it!

Who would make the best President? (full analysis)
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.
Phone: 650-279-1008

Steve Kirsch home page