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Bill and Publius' Excellent Adventure
A Publius Essay | 29 May 2007 | Publius

Posted on 05/29/2007 2:55:58 PM PDT by Publius

Even before my retirement from information technology, I spent a decade working on rail-based solutions to transportation problems, and I deal with politicians from both parties in Washington State. My associate on our latest project, who identifies himself as a “Hubert Humphrey” Democrat, is a retired academic and author who ran for local office on a shoestring and managed to get a third of the vote against the machine. In the presidential race he’s backing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson because “at least he’s done something.” So I suddenly found myself invited to a Richardson campaign event at a hotel in downtown Seattle.

My associate is running for office again, and he brought his campaign manager, who is still in high school. This told me he had no money. His manager in turn brought his girlfriend, who is a member of the high school Government Club and is drop-dead gorgeous. (They didn’t look like that when I was in high school!) His interest in Richardson stems from the fact that the governor’s Railrunner commuter rail startup out of Albuquerque was the cheapest in North America. Because of this, he thought the governor might like to read his latest book on railroad history.

At the Hotel

The event was held at the Westin in downtown Seattle. Thanks to my associate’s thorough work I was pre-registered and promptly received my name badge with “Washington State Democrats” printed uncomfortably close to my name. They were also handing out blue badges with “Yo soy Democratica”, but I paseo’d. Carefully avoiding photographers, I headed for the ballroom.

The room was only half full, and my first impression of the crowd was – old and white. Upon cogitation, I concluded that Obama had the black vote, Hillary had the moderate vote – and those Hard Lefties who believe she is our secret Stalin – and Kucinich had the Barking Moonbat vote. This crowd was more interested in competence than surface flash, and I sensed a Dukakis moment in the making.

My associate had told me to expect an open bar and lots of food, but only hot water and coffee were available. I had fasted all day for this event, and my disposition was not improved by this discovery. I began to suspect that Gov. Richardson’s cupboard was as bare as the refreshment tables.

In the room were politicians from the city, county and state that had signed on with Richardson. I schmoozed, mingled and circulated, concentrating on women who didn’t have visible tattoos or multiple piercings. What I heard was more edifying that what I saw.

“Hillary is a better candidate than she was before. She could win this.”

“Jim McDermott said that Al Gore would enter late after all the others had exhausted their bank accounts. Jim says it’s going to be Gore/Obama for sure. Have you read Al Gore’s latest book?”

“They asked the Republicans at their debate if they didn’t believe in evolution, and they all raised their hands! Do you believe that? Like the earth is flat, too! We need to get our education system reprogrammed.”

The King County chair for Richardson asked everyone to sit down, and then a TV image was projected on a large screen.

The first two Richardson ads were hilarious, with the candidate being interviewed by an obnoxious personnel officer about his application to be president. Richardson had the unexpected gift of being a good deadpan comic like Ben Stein, and I could envision him having his own show on Comedy Central.

The third ad was the tired old chestnut of still images and a narrator gravely intoning America’s need for Bill Richardson’s leadership, lah-de-doo-dah. The final ad was Richardson walking along a stone fence and talking, which looked like it had been shot in New England.

As far as effective television goes, he was batting five hundred.

There was no band or canned soundtrack or light show when Richardson was introduced, and the candidate was candid about why – he had no money. But his current 10% standing in the polls was better than his standing when he entered the race – he was at the margin of error. As he got down to his standard stump speech, most of it registered as boilerplate with applause lines: restore America’s place in the world, being stubborn isn’t foreign policy, heal Iraq by pulling out the troops, yada-yada-yada.

But Richardson was quite specific in describing his first six days in office. While I won’t quote directly, I’ll give the essence of his presentation, and then I’ll place my own reaction in italics afterward.

Day 1: Peace in Our Time

I will work with Congress to pull our troops out of Iraq by the end of 2009. Military solutions won’t work, but diplomacy will. (Applause.) I’ll sit the Kurds, Sunnis and Shias down, and we’ll create a federal republic with three autonomous regions. I’ll work with Iraq’s neighbors and replace our troops with an all-Muslim peacekeeping force. I’ll have Syria and Iran sit down at the table as partners.

Bill, the Kurds view the Arabs as a lower form of life, somewhere between worms and lizards, and they don’t want to share a country with them. The Sunni and Shia Arabs have been persecuting each other for 14 centuries, so from their perspective, why mess with success? Iraq is a trash can, created by the British to be a trash can, and Saddam was the lid. Our problem was that we removed the lid and didn’t have a replacement lid handy. And Iran is interested in being a partner only as a step in controlling the Middle East’s oil with those nukes they plan to get.

Then we’ll work on global warming, hunger and promoting international harmony. (Applause.)

Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya...

Day 2: Global Warming and Energy Independence

I will ask for mutual sacrifice from Americans. I will mandate that we go from 65% imported oil to 10% on a crash basis, to cars with 50 miles per gallon in 5 years, to 20% renewable energy in 20 years, and to reduce greenhouse gasses I will support and sign Kyoto. (Loud applause.)

By “sacrifice”, “mandate” and “crash basis”, are you talking about rationing or just bringing back the notoriously unpopular 55 mph speed limit? I can’t drive 55.

I will partner with cities and states. I will make a federal contribution if you build smart growth communities, implement sensible land use policies and commit to rail instead of just expanding existing highways. I will keep Amtrak running and have a national transportation policy focused on light rail, bullet trains and more efficient transportation.

We can agree on some of this. Balanced transportation is important, and rail has been getting the short end of the stick for years, especially freight rail. Every long distance truck we take off the highway and strap onto a railcar makes room for four more cars. But the highway lobby, the trucking industry and the Teamsters aren’t going to like it. Light rail is a potential transportation solution, but its advocates are turning it into a religion. And by the way, Amtrak needs a big dose of free market therapy if it’s ever going to be more than a ward of government. Amtrak management doesn’t have a clue as to how to market its product and raise revenue.

Day 3: Universal Healthcare

I will work with Congress to pass universal healthcare. I will provide tax incentives to companies that work for better employee health, like those that provide company gyms. We should focus on prevention. Administrative costs of healthcare are 31%, and I will reduce that to 5%. I will reduce the age for Medicare eligibility to 55. Veterans will be given health cards that they can use outside the VA hospital system. It’s time to remove junk food from schools and mandate healthy meals. (Applause.)

HillaryCare again? And you’re going to pay for this how?

Day 4: And Then He Rested

A great sigh of relief from Publius.

Day 5: Job Creation

I will work with Congress to pass tax incentives for job creation. I will permit no trade agreements to be implemented unless labor rights are respected. I will appoint a union member as Secretary of Labor. (Loud applause.) Rather than hike taxes, I will look to innovation.

That “innovation” business sounds Republican, and I don’t think it will get very far with the unions. As to mandating how workers are treated in other countries, you want to export the American nanny state to the Third World? And you think we’re unpopular now!

Day 6: Social Issues

I will support a woman’s right to choose. (Sustained applause.) It is time for a federal law recognizing civil unions. We can have immigration laws without fences. If you build a 10 foot fence, the Mexicans will simply find an 11 foot ladder. I will restore habeus corpus, end government eavesdropping and shut down Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. (Loud and sustained applause.) I will ameliorate the effects of globalism worldwide by narrowing the gap between rich and poor.

By making us poorer, no doubt.

Q & A

A microphone was provided for questioners, but as one man came to the mike, others began shouting out questions. That’s how it was handled from that point on.

Iraq: Richardson blasted Congress for backsliding in its negotiations with the president. The proper solution is to invoke the War Powers Act to de-authorize the war and force Bush to pull out. (Loud and sustained applause.)

Bill, you slammed the Democratic Congress because that’s where Hillary and Obama reside. It’s a good shot and puts the ball squarely in their court. But do you really want to announce our surrender to the enemy in advance? Do you honestly think that our defeat in Iraq won’t lead to the kind of problems we had in the Seventies? Do you really want to be the second Jimmy Carter, president of a humbled, weak and pitiful giant brought down by lesser men?

Immigration: Richardson opposed the current immigration bill. He would ask for more border security, more employer sanctions, and most importantly he would get Mexico to help its own people so they wouldn’t want to come here in the first place. He would oppose any wall and favor amnesty. Mass deportations are out of the question. Guest workers would need labor protection and health care.

To clean up the narco-republic that is Mexico would require another Castro – and with our luck that’s exactly what we’d get. But opening up entitlements to guest workers? Who’s going to pay for it?

The historic inability of sitting senators to be elected president: Richardson milked that one for all it was worth.

But saying that Jack Kennedy was a “special case” simply scores a point for Obama, who has a copyright on being a special case. You might want to come up with a better answer.


My feelings were mixed. I came away respecting Bill Richardson and even liking him at times. I could sit down, have a beer (or two) with this guy and argue the night away. He has serious heft and a lot of content but no real sound bites. He is a good communicator but not a great communicator. He comes across as personable, knowledgeable, neither radical nor dangerous, but too idealistic on foreign policy. I don’t know if Richardson actually believes all that stuff about diplomacy or if he was just throwing red meat to a Seattle crowd. He is a policy wonk like Bill Clinton but lacks Clinton’s guile. He is not a rock star like Obama but a governor with a track record in New Mexico, Congress and international diplomacy. He would be a formidable candidate if he got the Democratic nomination. But getting past rock stars like Hillary and Obama – and undeclared rock stars like Gore – will be difficult. He has to be viewed as a second tier candidate.

Concerning the crowd in the room, I wasn’t sure if I was sensing hatred of America or just hatred of Bush. Had I asked, I suspect the answer would have been, “I hate what Bush, Halliburton, the neocons and the Christers have done to America, but I love what America could be.” The faces in the room belonged to people who protested Vietnam in the Sixties and Seventies, fought for a nuclear freeze in the Eighties, and now had a new cause in Iraq. Their faces had aged and their sandaled feet needed a variety of surgical procedures, but it was the same crowd. Then as now, they firmly believe they possess the moral high ground.

My associate was not able to pass his book to Richardson at the event because the candidate was mobbed by the local media and by politicians who wanted to be photographed with him. However, he attended the evening event, a fundraising dinner for 40 on Mercer Island with plenty of free food and drinks, and he passed his book to the governor then. Although invited, I elected not to attend for fear I would be solicited to write a large check to the Richardson campaign.

I’m on a fixed income, you know.

TOPICS: US: Washington; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: democrats; election; publiusessay; richardson; seattle
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OK, so I'm not Mark Steyn or P.J. O'Rourke, but I can give you a belly laugh or two.
1 posted on 05/29/2007 2:56:01 PM PDT by Publius
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To: greyfoxx39; Libertina; Billthedrill; BADROTOFINGER; lonewacko_dot_com; Paulus Invictus; ...


2 posted on 05/29/2007 2:57:32 PM PDT by Publius (A = A)
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To: Publius

Woo hoo!! Go Bill go!! LOL!!

3 posted on 05/29/2007 3:06:16 PM PDT by Jim Robinson (Our God-given unalienable rights are not open to debate, negotiation or compromise!)
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To: Publius

OMG!!!!! You better have Pics :*)

4 posted on 05/29/2007 3:07:38 PM PDT by cmsgop ( "cmsgop" a Mark Goodson / Bill Todman Production)
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To: Publius

LOL. Excellent essay! Although I was not there, that dovetails with my take on Governor Richardson — potentially more formidable on substance than either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, but not quite there in the charisma department.

5 posted on 05/29/2007 3:08:34 PM PDT by ShorelineMike (Constituo, ergo sum.)
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To: Publius

LOL, thanks!!

6 posted on 05/29/2007 3:11:33 PM PDT by sionnsar ( |Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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To: Publius

Thanks for a well written account.

And through it all, what struck me most is (sorry to say) his campaign manager is a high school kid. 8^)

7 posted on 05/29/2007 3:15:22 PM PDT by airborne (Duncan Hunter is the only real choice for honest to goodness conservatives!)
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To: cmsgop

I made it a point not to be photographed with “Washington State Democrats” just above my name, and I certainly didn’t want to be seen by FReepers. Without this essay to explain what I was doing there, my reputation on this site would have been destroyed. Show some mercy, man!

8 posted on 05/29/2007 3:16:32 PM PDT by Publius (A = A)
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To: airborne
My associate doesn't have the money to pay for this kid to manage his run for city council. If the kid can raise the money, he'll get paid, which (I suppose) is a good inducement to work hard.

Gov. Richardson has so little money I sometimes suspect that back in Santa Fe he has another high school kid managing his campaign.

9 posted on 05/29/2007 3:19:44 PM PDT by Publius (A = A)
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To: Publius

Sounds like my assessment of Richardson’s been pretty right on all along: the stockroom’s filled with a minefield mix of blessings and curses, but there’s nothing in the store windows that’s got the oomph to get customers through the revolving doors.


10 posted on 05/29/2007 3:24:58 PM PDT by HKMk23 (Nine out of ten orcs attacking Rohan were Saruman's Uruk-hai, not Sauron's! So, why invade Mordor?)
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To: Publius

So my next question is - did the kid do a decent job?

11 posted on 05/29/2007 3:29:14 PM PDT by airborne (Duncan Hunter is the only real choice for honest to goodness conservatives!)
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To: airborne
The kid showed some good chops. He steered my friend to the right people while keeping one eye on Richardson and the crowd around him to see if there was a shot at getting my friend into the winner's circle. According to my friend, the kid worked the crowd at the party in Mercer Island to see if he could shake any money out of the attendees.

He has a gift for this stuff.

12 posted on 05/29/2007 3:44:51 PM PDT by Publius (A = A)
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To: CedarDave; LegendHasIt; Rogle; leapfrog0202; Santa Fe_Conservative; DesertDreamer; ...

NM ping for a good laugh!

13 posted on 05/29/2007 4:33:40 PM PDT by greyfoxx39 (Thanks congress and President Bush, I'm feeling very non-multi-culti today!)
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To: Publius

I enjoyed reading about your adventure! Thanks!!

14 posted on 05/29/2007 4:36:38 PM PDT by noexcuses
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To: ShorelineMike; Publius; Rogle
LOL. Excellent essay! Although I was not there, that dovetails with my take on Governor Richardson — potentially more formidable on substance than either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, but not quite there in the charisma department.

Oh, my! I just pinged some NM FReepers...I'm of the opinion they won't agree with your assessment...I surely don't. Especially on the "cheap Railrunner"...

15 posted on 05/29/2007 4:38:06 PM PDT by greyfoxx39 (Thanks congress and President Bush, I'm feeling very non-multi-culti today!)
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To: greyfoxx39
Compared to commuter rail startups in other parts of the nation, especially on the West Coast, Railrunner was built for a song.
16 posted on 05/29/2007 4:41:36 PM PDT by Publius (A = A)
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To: greyfoxx39; Publius


Railrunner only LOOKS like it was built for a song because Richardson is only including the down payment in his speeches. Railrunner is far from complete and NM taxpayers will be paying for the black hole on rails for a very long time.

As far as being a likeable guy, sociopaths are like that — at first.

17 posted on 05/29/2007 5:03:10 PM PDT by DesertDreamer ("I don't believe in a government that protects us from ourselves." - Ronald Reagan)
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To: DesertDreamer

Is it not amazing how easily Richardson fools people who SHOULD be more discerning?

I’m not that great a judge of character, but I could see right through him the first time I met him. So why can’t everyone else?

18 posted on 05/29/2007 9:21:32 PM PDT by LegendHasIt
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To: Publius

Railrunner wasn’t even “Built”.

He ‘BOUGHT’ (That is, the next five generations of NM Taxpayers will be paying for) some existing but essentially unused freight train tracks. Then he bought a used engine & cars; gave them a paint job and put some duct tape on the slashed seat covers.

He does plan to build some more track, but it is going to take 10 years and ten times as much money as planned before it is ready to roll (if ever).

19 posted on 05/29/2007 9:49:41 PM PDT by LegendHasIt
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To: Publius
Publius, I loved it, but I gotta make one change..."By making us poorer DEAD, no doubt".
20 posted on 05/29/2007 9:53:48 PM PDT by rockrr (09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0)
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