Mike Gravel rates Democratic Party opponents
Gravel: All three leading Democrats are politics as usual
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: Do you distinguish between the three leading candidates coming out of Iowa and going into New Hampshire, in terms of the polling? You know, Obama and Edwards and Clinton. Do you distinguish between them in any way?
MIKE GRAVEL: No. I think that they’re the product of the celebrity nature of American communication. And that’s the sadness of it all. You know. They have the same level of celebrity attention as Britney Spears has.
JAY: When you get down to the policy level, there are some differences between them. Are they significant differences?
GRAVEL: No, not at all. They’re not significant. All three of them want the health care paid for through business enterprise, which cripples business enterprise. What’s the difference? And as far as education, they’re all three endorsed by the NEA [National Education Association]. You’re not going to see any changes in our educational system. What else? Education, health care. Two vital ones. The rest is just rinky-dinking around.
JAY: Edwards has certainly been talking more aggressively about taking on corporate America.
GRAVEL: Oh, yeah. Tell me how you’re going to do that. No. I mean, how do you do that? I don’t know how to do that. I know, if I can empower the American people, that they can sustain some policies, that I would do that.
JAY: Certainly there are laws Congress could pass. I mean, a president working with Congress—.
GRAVEL: Oh, Congress could do a good job, theoretically, but it can’t. Why? Its owned lock, stock, and barrel by corporate America. So you think you’re going to become president and you’re going to turn to the Congress and say, “Let’s really straighten out corporate America.” This is foolishness. It’s fantasy. But it sounds good on the stump. I could make that kind of speech. Oh, man. Just listen to me. What am I going to do to corporate America? You can’t believe. And I know a lot about corporate personhood and POCLAD and all of that. But so what?
JAY: But in a campaign like this, if someone has the potential of winning and makes some kind of promises, in theory they can mean something.
GRAVEL: In theory what it means is you’re a hypocrite. That’s what it means in theory, because if you’re smart enough to know you can’t deliver, and you tell them you can deliver, what are you doing? You’re raising expectations and you’re lying to the people. Or you’re too dumb to know you’re lying to the people.
JAY: Do you distinguish between the leading Democrats and the leading Republicans?
GRAVEL: Oh, the leading Republicans, in my point of view, are nutty as loons. They really are. I mean, they’re warmongers. I mean, the Democrats at least—here, I’ll give you this example. The Republicans and Bush. Lump them together. You’ve got boiling water. You take a frog, you throw him in the water, and the frog jumps out. You get the Democrats. You get tepid water. You put the frog in the water, and you turn the heat up slowly, and you cook the frog, and nobody knows the difference.
JAY: Okay, but that’s an argument for saying there isn’t significant differences between the Republicans and the Democrats.
GRAVEL: Where are the Democrats raising all their money right now? Wall Street.
JAY: No, wait. Hold on. When I asked you first, you said they’re nutty as loons. That kind of implies the others aren’t nutty as loons.
GRAVEL: Well, they’re not as bad, no, they’re not as bad. Well, no, they’re not as bad. Far from it. They’re not as bad. But they’re pretty bad. Here. The Democrats are raising more money from Wall Street than the Republicans are right now, from the same people who own the Republican Party.
JAY: So, then, what do you make of Obama’s promise of change and all the rhetoric that’s been going along with his campaign?
GRAVEL: It’s foolish. Foolish. Dangerous. Dangerous, because he doesn’t even recognize that he can’t deliver. That’s dangerous. I would rather – Hillary. At least she knows what she’s talking about. He doesn’t.
GRAVEL: Edwards? He probably knows better, what he’s talking about, than Obama. Obama of the three is the most dangerous, because he raises greater expectations of the youth and can’t deliver. And the worst thing a leader can do is raise expectations, and they don’t happen. You create a whole new generation of cynics. And that’s what he’s doing. And he’s used the line [inaudible] reason out what he’s saying. You know, the statement I like that I’ve heard from young people: there’s no ‘there’ there. And listen to the words. Make a speech and use the word change ten times—what specifically are you going to change? You’re going to change the health care system? Not really. You’re going to change the military-industrial complex? Not really. He wants another hundred thousand more troops. Are you going to change anything about your relationship with Iran? Not really. Nukes are on the table. Are you going to change anything with respect to Israel? Not really. He’s supported by AIPAC. Are you going to change anything for education? He’s on the education committee. He’s supported by the NEA. Where’s change? I don’t see any change. But he doesn’t say any of those things. He lets you figure out what the change is. So it’s like an actor. What does an actor do? He gives you a scene, and you read into it what the scene means to you. And that’s what he’s doing. It’s terrible, because what you read into it isn’t what’s going to happen, ’cause he’s going to have the reality. The simplest one of all is we have a $50 to $70 trillion fiscal gap. There’s no money to do anything, never mind this imperialism, which is why there’s no money to do anything. Here. You recall that Hillary, Edwards, and Obama all said, when asked by Tim Russert, would you have the troops out of Iraq by the end of 2013? And all three of them equivocated, weren’t sure that they could do it. And then you heard just last night, oh, yeah; I’m going to start withdrawing them immediately. What are they talking about? Say one thing; say another thing. You know, withdrawing immediately, what does that mean? We’ll withdraw ten this month, and then I’m going to change my mind next month? It’s gross hypocrisy – is really what it is. It’s politics as usual, and that’s sad, because we’re at a turning point in ’08. If we continue with American imperialism, we’re done as a nation. Truly are. And two things coming at us. We’re going to be irrelevant in the world. You see this in foreign affairs when you see all these other countries making arrangements by themselves; don’t even invite us to the meeting. Why? We come to a meeting; we think we know it all. We’re the superpower—you’ve got to listen to us.
JAY: Which meeting do you have in mind?
GRAVEL: Oh, they have meetings between China and India, between India and Malaysia, between Pakistan and India. You name it. There’s meetings going on all over the world, and we’re not invited.
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