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The Candidates: Carol Mosely-Braun
In Dissent, Number Ninety-Four
by Brian S. Wise
14 March 2003

The second installment in an ongoing series examining those Democrats seeking the presidency.

The truly great shame of the 2004 presidential campaign is that Tom Daschle isn’t running. The zealot in me (a very small part, to be sure, but enough to mention) was looking forward to postponing my semi-retirement and dedicating every waking moment to the downfall of the Daschle campaign. Democratism has made up for this profound disappointment by producing several candidates, some of whom employ thought processes so demented they suggest some sort of brain damage. The first of these examined here was Dennis Kucinich, Ohio; the second is Carol Mosely-Braun, from Illinois.

Republicans will suggest Braun is an illegitimate candidate because she had some legal problems, and appears unseemly. Were that the case, President Bush wouldn’t have a job, and Bill Clinton wouldn’t have had one, either. There are few things more unseemly than various combinations of alcohol abuse, possible cocaine use, laziness, pot smoking and womanizing. Having had those problems and overcoming / outgrowing them (in those cases where they have been outgrown, that is) doesn’t negate anyone’s chances of winning the presidency, as we have learned; personal reform speaks greatly of one’s character, and deserves profound consideration.

No, Braun is an illegitimate candidate because of things like this, her answer to a question regarding her major in college: “Uh, I think history, but I’ll get back to you on that.” Uh-huh. (Quick, Ms. Braun, who’s the president of Pakistan!?) Now, say whatever you want about President Bush and Al Gore’s college transcripts, but I’ve got a fiver that says either of them could accurately tell you their major 10 out of every 10 times asked. And then there was the time she suggested George Will was a Klansman because he had written a column speaking to her, um, moral shortcomings. “I think because he could not say ‘nigger,’ he said the word ‘corrupt.’” Will actually said neither, but no matter. “George Will can just take his hood and go back to wherever he came from.” George Will, of course, is no racist, but he is a conservative, and when you’ve got nothing else of substance to think or say, “Klansman” will make you feel better. (You cannot, by the way, race bait your way to national office, and you will see that the closer she gets to saying all whites in opposition to her are racist, the further she will drop in any legitimate poll.)

The Will incident, it must be said, took place nearly five years ago, just a little while before Braun was bounced from the Senate; but honestly, is there anyone who believes she has at all learned, thought completely or matured since then? More importantly, especially to the point made in the previous paragraph, has she learned enough (intellectually and in terms of judgment) to not only admit she’s made mistakes, but to explain the nature of those errors to an interested electorate (including yours truly)? Can Braun, for example, say why she warmed to a Nigerian dictator, or why she took loans from campaign funds to pay her personal bills, or why she allowed sexual harassment of her campaign workers, or why (how) she misappropriated an inheritance?

Well, not to a good enough degree to make it all go away, no. Those aren’t the sort of things you comfortably explain given the current political environment, which in reasonable circles shuns both dictators and financial irregularities. Whether or not the Left at large accepts the political reality of those conditions is beside the point: you cannot win the presidency simply by convincing those who voted for Gore to vote for you; you must also convince more than a few Republicans and a large percentage of third partiers / fence sitters. Not easy when your claim to fame is two-headed, one head saying you were the first black female Senator (a great positive) while the other says you barely avoided conviction (not so good).

To her immense credit, however, she has suggested the “Men Only” sign should be taken off the White House doors. A fine idea – all we need now is a viable candidate. Were Margaret Thatcher 20 years younger and somehow a citizen, I couldn’t vote for her fast enough, even above President Bush. That not being possible, it can be said that such a candidate should be sought out, but that Carol Mosely-Braun isn’t it. She is not smart enough to face the opposition directly, not good enough to earn respect and not honest enough to earn trust. Those are why she cannot win, and the sooner she is gone from the political landscape, the better it is for Democratism at large.

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