Dennis Kucinich is running for President. You may have heard that bit of information in the last couple weeks, or maybe not. Most likely not and if you did, it was in the passive way one hears an unremarkable weather report. Welcome to the campaign of long-shot candidate Dennis Kucinich.
Why doesn't it matter to the public, and especially the media, that Congressman Kuchinich has been right? He has been correct in his positions that were political 'hot potatoes' in 2004, yet are currently being called "conventional wisdom" on both sides of the aisle. Dennis Kucinich has gotten it right and recieved a raw deal from almost everyone. He has been scorned and derided by pundits and the public, political junkies and journalists and it can't all be about his ears. I can think of two Texans who are all ears, and they nonetheless made it through the media minefield. The virtual snubbing of Dennis Kucinich is about money and media misadventure.
Congressman Kucinich doesn't pander by implicitly promising favors to special interests nor beg for money at the corporate trough. He has joined the Howard Dean school of internet campaign finance reform and raised about 13 million dollars primarily from individuals over the internet for this, his second run at the White House. Thirteen million dollars is a paltry amount by standards of election spending today, and difficult to run a winning campaign on.
I began to notice, in the last twelve years or so, the mainstream media seemed to decide they were no longer the public's watchdogs, but cocktail weenie-munching insiders to the political process and powers-that-be. The media stopped trying to 'get the story' and started caring only about 'getting access' to the circuit of parties and power events that oil the social machine inside the beltway. Public information is the casualty. Reporters have begun to act like pundits, prognosticators of the future, purveyors of wisdom. They must know best what information and who we the public have access to because they are 'in the know.' They limit a candidates access to media because they have pre-determined 'the loser,' and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
The NPR program, "On The Media" talks to Rep. Kucinich and his communications director from his 2004 run for the presidency. The audio begins: "When Dennis Kucinich announced his candidacy off-handedly in an interview with the New York Times, the resulting article treated the announcement as an amusing oddity and led to something less than the publicity windfall enjoyed by Obama." From the Times article:
Never mind that he did not come close to winning any primaries or caucuses in 2004. Mr. Kucinich, who plans to announce his candidacy formally on Tuesday in Cleveland, said he liked his chances.Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, and former communications director for Kucinich's 2004 run, when asked to characterize the media coverage during the 2004 campaign calls it, "dismissive, sneering...and (they) ignored the candidate alltogether."
“Why not?” he said, adding a horse-racing metaphor, “I run very well on a sloppy track.”
He trotted out this line in 2004, too, for what it’s worth.
I hear constantly how America needs a "real leader". One comes along, and he is virtually ignored, because he doesn't have the right bone structure, is deemed not tall enough, or does not whet the public fascination for a candidate that is a woman or person of color. Dennis Kuchinich reflects the opinions the voters said they wanted in the mid-term elections. The so-called "front-runners" for 2008 have demonstrated pandering or no opinion at all, yet remain at the head of the pack. If America doesn't get over its piquancy for "Dancing With The Stars," come 2008 another republican will be sitting in the Oval Office and they'll have no one left to blame but themselves.
Dennis Kucinich has just been made chair of a new subcommittee; one with the broadest oversight authority of any subcommittee in the federal government, with jurisdiction over all Domestic Policy in the United States. Regardless of the results of his presidential run, it is comforting to know that Dennis Kucinich has a personal stake in returning fairness and access to a government that has turned its back on the public regardless of the fact that same public that has turned its back on him. His eagerness to restore the balance and fair play we have been raised to consider 'American values' is what may save us from ourselves. Maybe his integrity and sense of duty will rub off on his colleagues and the American people.