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Monday, 18 February 2008 18:08

A Presidential Candidate Until Just a Short Time Ago, Dennis Kucinich Now Faces a Primary Challenge for His Congressional Seat

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A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW

The independent media is a treasure, and we understand how important it is to access independent media to be able to have a viewpoint that is unadulterated by the commercial interests. ... There are many people who are trying to get out independent messages. I know BuzzFlash is one of them. Cherish those outlets, because they're the key to maintaining whatever semblance of a democracy we still have. ...

Impeachment is not, per se, removal from office. It really says that there are serious questions that must be asked as to the conduct of the people who are guiding this nation. And in the case of the President and the Vice President, there is incontrovertible evidence that they lied to take us into a war. They should be held accountable.

-- Congressman Dennis Kucinich

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Many progressives lamented that the person who most articulated their values in the current presidential primary race was Dennis Kucinich (or John Edwards). But in large part due to media neglect of his campaign, he was never able to get enough exposure to gain traction. MSNBC even went to court to keep him out of a presidential debate.

Kucinich cut short his effort to raise fundamental issues of justice at the national level because trouble was brewing in Cleveland. In short, well-monied interests took advantage of Kucinich's presidential campaign to back a candidate to challenge Dennis in the March 4th Ohio primary. So Kucinich had to suddenly switch gears from running for president to battling to keep his Congressional seat, due to well-heeled opposition who don't cotton to Kucinich's calls for corporate and political accountability.

We don't normally do this, but you can help Congressman Kucinich by going to http://kucinich.us/ and making a contribution. And if you live in his district or know someone who does, help get out the vote for Dennis on March 4th. We need his fearless truth to power.

Then read our interview with Kucinich conducted on Friday, February 15.

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BuzzFlash: Congressman, many of us have certainly lauded you for your wonderful leadership over the past few years, and your effort to run in the presidential primary. But you've got a Congressional campaign now. You're being challenged in Cleveland. What is happening there?

Congressman Dennis Kucinich: Well, there's some very powerful, monied special interest groups who may raise and spend as much as $2 million in a Democratic primary to try to knock me out of office. These are people, most of whom do not live in my district, most of whom have their own private, narrow agenda, that is not in any way connected with the agenda of the people of my district, or, in some cases, that of the great mass of the American people. So what I am doing is just getting my record out to the people, letting them know that I have represented them without fear or favor. And I'm confident that with enough people, and with people contributing to make sure we get our message out, that we'll succeed. But it is a contest. Make no mistake about it.

BuzzFlash: You've got a few people in the primary, but the lead opponent is a Cleveland city councilman. Why is it that the business interests decided to target you? I would think that you're a national asset and good for Cleveland and Ohio in terms of visibility, and speaking out for your state and the Cleveland area before the nation.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich: I am, you're right about that. But I also can't be controlled. And, you know, the interests that are in this district, some of which I've been contending with for the better part of my thirty-year career in politics, are people who can't stand having an independent voice in the United States Congress, and who have narrow financial interests that are not to be confused with the broad-based interest of the people, some of whom are developers who depend heavily on federal funds, who have had projects that I haven't particularly approved of. Some make large contributions to politicians in exchange for not only their support, but being able to control the politicians. I can't be bought. There's such a great conflict between interest groups and the public interest, and I realize that.

I've been standing on the side of the public interest my whole life. But I think that because I've been in the presidential campaign, there are people who feel that this was the opportunity that they could try to march on me in my own district. And so, I'm working. I'm confident that, with the support of the people, we'll prevail. People know my record in the district. We have a very service-intensive approach in the tenth district in Ohio. I handle over 10,000 requests for service a year with a staff of 21 people who just work for the public interest. We're not a gas station for special interest groups, who can pull up and get what they want, with the public interest being trounced. I'm all for people, and they know that. So we just have to get our message out. If we do, we'll win.

BuzzFlash: And that's on March 4th.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich: That's correct. It's not too far away.

BuzzFlash: Okay, second question -- impeachment. You've been invaluable and valiant in trying to initiate impeachment in Congress, but to no avail. Neither your efforts nor Congressman Wexler's and others on the Judiciary Committee have moved it any further along. Is there any possibility impeachment is going to happen? We interviewed Elizabeth Holtzman a couple of weeks ago -- it was our second interview with her -- and David Swanson, whom you know well, has been very active. Impeachment just seems to be dead in the water because Speaker Pelosi is adamantly opposed to it.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich: Well, make no mistake about it -- the Speaker sets the agenda in the Congress. That's a fact. However, as you know, we were able to get a significant debate going in the Congress two months ago and I was able to bring a resolution to the floor. We had four hours in which the House was forced to focus on the question of impeachment of the Vice President. To me, being able to get that out there for a vote of any kind was significant. I have another resolution that we're getting ready with respect to the President. The degree to which the public lacks confidence in the Congress is the degree to which the Congress has failed to take up this issue of accountability.

Because impeachment is not, per se, removal from office. It really says that there are serious questions that must be asked as to the conduct of the people who are guiding this nation. And in the case of the President and the Vice President, there is incontrovertible evidence that they lied to take us into a war. They should be held accountable.

The fact that the Congress, at this point, and our Congressional leaders, have chosen not to do that really diminishes the role of Congress. It's forfeiting its Constitutional powers. And so I'm persistent. I will, at some point, bring the resolution with respect to the President to the floor of the House. It's not likely to happen while I'm focusing on my own primary. But whether or not the House votes on it, or votes it up or down, we it will have a great historical, significant impact. The narrow arc of this is whether or not anybody's challenging his conduct. That's the question. And millions of Americans are challenging the conduct of this administration. It's appropriate that there be an effort in the House that's doing the same thing. So there will be a record established, and there will be a historical record. And people will be able to go back and say: well, at least some people understood what was going on and were willing to call it the way it was.

BuzzFlash: When we asked Elizabeth Holtzman why she was pursuing this, she said, "Because I believe in the Constitution and the rule of law, and that people should be held accountable."

Congressman Dennis Kucinich: She's right. Here's someone who has been through an impeachment during the time of Richard Nixon. Again, you have to remember what impeachment is. It's an investigation. And the question remains: Should this administration be investigated for its conduct with respect to the war in Iraq? And the lies that they made to take us into war.

If there are reasonable questions about this, we have to pursue it. It's our Constitutional responsibility. I believe that there's a mountain of evidence to suggest that we were lied to to take us into a war. So we have absolutely no choice, unless we abandon our Constitutional obligation. As with Holtzman, I stand on the side of the Constitution. I took an oath to defend the Constitution. And that oath really goes to the heart of what we're after. We're not after aggrandizement. We're not there for personal honor. We're there to represent the Constitution of the United States, the people of this country, and to protect the Constitution. That's the oath. We're not protecting the Constitution when we let this administration wage war without being able to stand on the side of truth. Because they're not standing on truth -- they're standing on lies. So I'm not going to let this go.

Most voters understand that with an election in a couple of weeks, I've got some things I better take care of. I'm focused on what am I going to do about their jobs, their healthcare, their retirement security, the education of their children. These are all legitimate questions that, in an election, must be discussed. But I am not letting this issue of impeachment go.

BuzzFlash: How do you feel about how the media handled your campaign to become President?

Congressman Dennis Kucinich: Well, you have to quit looking at the media as some kind of an independent force in our society. There's a myth about the media, and that is that they represent an independent source that protects the public interest. Well, they don't. They have commercial interests like any other commercial interest. Their first obligation is to protect their commercial interests, which is what they do.

Having said that, it's obvious that my campaign was antithetical to the commercial interests and the media interests. For example, NBC was owned by General Electric. General Electric also owns Raytheon. But GE and Raytheon are defense contractors. So you have to ask yourself: Is it in their commercial interest to have war or peace? I could argue that they make money off of war. And so why would they want someone who stands firmly and vigorously for peace to be the leading spokesperson for the Democratic Party, when they can get someone who votes for their interests?

The independent media is a treasure, and we understand how important it is to access independent media to be able to have a viewpoint that is unadulterated by the commercial interests. This is again one of the tragedies in our society -- the concentration of information in the hands of a few is as anathema to democracy as a concentration of commercial wealth in the hands of a few. You need to reestablish the real meaning of the Federal Communications Act of 1934, which is that the broadcast media must serve the public interest. We must require that monopolies in the media be broken up. We must have public financing of all federal political campaigns. We must require those who hold licenses to provide federal candidates free time. Because the air belongs to the people.

This is really a challenge for a democracy. Every once in awhile, candidates have the privilege of coming forward and bringing these issues to the public's attention. Or maybe not. In my case, I have no hesitation to talk about the deeper meaning of what this process represents. And I stand for the Constitution. I stand for a deeper sense of democracy. And I'm not going to set that aside just for a temporary idol of holding office. My race for the Presidency was about upholding integrity. And, you know, my wife and I termed the new organization IntegrityNow.org, which succeeds our presidential campaign. For those who are interested in signing up together, it's going to be about upholding integrity at all levels in government, and talking about what we can do to have a government we can call our own. There are many people who are trying to get out independent messages. I know BuzzFlash is one of them. Cherish those outlets, because they're the key to maintaining whatever semblance of a democracy we still have.

BuzzFlash: And what is the website for your Congressional campaign?

Congressman Dennis Kucinich: It's Kucinich.us. And I would humbly ask that your readers go to it. This is a contest where there are massive corporate interests that are intervening and trying to take this Congressional seat. This seat does not belong to me. It belongs to the people in the 10th District. I represent their aspirations, but I live in a district where there's a high level of poverty. There is a lot of unemployment. Many people don't have the luxury of being able to contribute to the political campaign. They're lucky that they can pay their utility bills. And so, I'm grateful if anyone can help us out and make a contribution. The election is just a little more than two weeks away, on March the 4th. But again, I'm confident that we can win if the public rises to the occasion of supporting us. In any event, I'm not going to change who I am because someone dangles a prize in front of me which really doesn't belong to them to dangle.

BuzzFlash: Thank you, Congressman, and our best wishes on March 4th.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich: Let's stay in touch.

BuzzFlash: Okay, thanks.

BuzzFlash interview conducted by Mark Karlin.

* * *

Resources:

http://kucinich.house.gov/Biography/

http://kucinich.us/

http://www.blogforamerica.com/view/23650

Kucinich Under Fire (Truthdig)

Councilman Joe Cimperman leading 10th Congressional District candidates in finances (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW

Read 398 times Last modified on Wednesday, 20 February 2008 08:21