An Uncommon Candidate

Politicians normally break down into two camps in my book. The first are the “what will this do for me” crowd. You know who they are - the ones that look at political office as a stepping stone to power. Throw a rock into a crowd of politicians and you are sure to hit one that fit’s that description. I’d say they are a dime a dozen, but that really seems like over paying in my mind.

The second type of person who seeks office, the unfortunately much rarer kind, is the person who seeks office not out of self service, but a genuine desire for public service. The men and women are willing to give up careers, money and all semblance of privacy to help make the country a bit better. It isn’t always easy to tell one type of candidate from the other. Nobody stands up and says that they are a selfish power hungry empty shirt, Vote for me (Republicans just assume you know that already - insert rim shot), but you know as well as I know that’s what most of them are.

Is it any wonder our political system is so screwed up?

That’s why I’m really happy that I’m working on the Alan Grayson campaign. I don’t want to turn this into a campaign commercial, but sometimes you just have to pump up the good guys a little bit. Alan is definitely not in this race to further his career.

Case in point. While the other candidates in the District 8 race are doing the normal political shuffle, my candidate is in Somalia. Yes, Somalia. Why? So that he can go see the aftermath of George H.W. Bush’s failed “Nation Building” first hand. If you think going to Somalia is a fun trip, you’re a better person than I am. I’m not sure there is an amount of money that would get me there, and yet Alan thought it was important to go there.

He is just that kind of guy.

What did Alan learn in Somalia? He learned that we are repeating the mistakes me made in that country on a greater scale in Iraq under the second Bush. Mistakes that are costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives. It’s not hard to see the parallels.

However, just like Somalia, he hopes that history repeats itself and that a Democratic President can fix President Bush’s disasterous mistake by ending the War in Iraq. “That’s our choice in the next election,” says Alan. “And, when I am elected to Congress, I will vote to end this war and bring our troops home.”

You can’t say it more bluntly than that.

Imagine if we had a Congress filled with people who wanted to know the truth bad enough that they would put themselves in harms way by going to Somalia, or Iraq or other dangerous hot spots? Imagine if we had a government run by people who cared more about getting it right than about what they were getting? Tell me that wouldn’t make a difference in this country. Tell me we don’t need that difference more than ever. You can’t.

Alan Grayson is the kind of politician we need in office no matter where you live. Every state, every seat, every vote is critical to help end Bush’s disastrous folly. Alan Grayson is an uncommon candidate. I’m proud to work on his campaign.

8 Responses to “An Uncommon Candidate”

  1. Jersey McJones Says:

    Oh man. How come you get Grayson and we’re stuck with the empty skirt of Ginny Brown-Waite? This sucks.


  2. Susie Miles Says:

    I’m impressed with Alan Grayson. I’ve been in politics for a very long time at the grassroot level and I’ve never known a candidate to go out of the way to get this type of information. Kudos to Alan. I wish someone in my Congressional District like Alan would run for Congress.

  3. steve Says:

    Good piece Tom. I hope your guy wins…

    We get Doris Matsui, the widow of Howard(?) Matsui… Some how I don’t get how the wife of someone is suddenly qualified to run in their spot when they die or leave office. That was one of two Democrats I voted for in 2006 though because the Republican was a dipstick. The other was Feinstein because the dude running against her was named Dick Forskin or something like that…. I don’t know… I’ll stop being funny… the Eastern Time Zone gets to me because my computer says 3:30pm but it’s freaking DARK!!!

  4. Rick Monahan Says:

    I know that you work for Grayson, but why are you trying to twist the truth about Somalia to fit your own agenda? Having served there in 1993 in the military, and again in 1995-97 with the UN World Food Program, I’m a bit disgusted by Grayson’s mischaracterization of what occurred in Somalia to fit his own political agenda. It simply isn’t fair to those who were there and he should take back his comments.

    The truth: In Dec 1992 Bush 1 sent American troops to Somalia as part of Operation RESTORE HOPE. This was the first time that US ground forces were used in a purely humanitarian role. There was no nation building, no national interest with oil - just our country helping hundreds of thousands of innocent people who were caught in a very violent, chaotic civil war.

    While Grayson would have us believe this was a Republican venture saved by a Democrat (Clinton), the truth is the opposite. Clinton took office in Jan 03, and during the summer of 2003 he expanded the scope of the mission in Somalia to include the specific target of rebel leaders in an attempt to shape the nation. This mission, given to the Rangers depicted in Blackhawk Down, was completely separate from the humanitarian mission Restore Hope.

    Mr. Grayson, please do more reading and talk to people who were there before you cast such negative aspersions on the actions of others. You want to lead our community, then act like a leader. Leaders make positve change, not criticize. Leaders forge new ideas, not revise history to meet their needs.

    Mr. Baker, I sincerely hope you publish this as part of your commitment to free expression. I do think we need a change, and if I knew more maybe Mr. Grayson is that man. However, shallow, hurtful and innacurate comments about historical events are not what is needed now.

  5. Tom Baker Says:

    Well Mr. Monohan, I will say that in one respect you are right. The original President Bush wasn’t around long enough to actually be involved in the UN’s UNOSOM II Nation Building plan because he was out of office by this point. Let’s be clear, the UN actually expanded Restore Hope to UNOSOM II, not President Clinton. It is inaaccute to say “he expanded” the scope. It is also worth noting that almost immediately after taking office, President Clinton reduced the number of US troops involved in campaign, bringing our numbers down to roughly 1,800 or so.

    The fact is that Pres Bush committed 25,000 American troops to combat after he lost an election. The invasion came a little more than a month before Clinton took over. I guess you could technically say that Mr. Bush had no plans at nation building - but to do so implies he had no long term strategy for the area after military operations started.

    It would seem reasonable to assume that any President who is willing to commit that many troops to a war zone must have at least some rudimentary plan to “build a nation.” To assume otherwise is folly. Therefore in my mind, the first President Bush did indeed commit the United Stated to a disastrous nation building exercise. Somalia is a failed state today. There is simply no way around that fact. We could argue all day about whether that is George H.W. Bush’s fault, Bill Clinton’s fault, the U.N.’s fault or the fault of the Republican’s in Congress. The truth of the matter is that Somalia was a failed policy.

    Please understand though that this isn’t a criticism of the military. They preformed miracles. They always do. You will find no bigger supporter of our troops than me. This is a discussion of political actions and their consequences.

    You are right in one other way though Mr. Monahan, Iraq is not like Somalia. Iraq is worse. For the sake of my friends who have served, their families who wait and those that are back but not the same - I hope we can bring them home soon. You guys did your job, it’s time for Congress to do theirs.

    (PS and no, Alan is not their on a 3rd world investment opportunity. I read the blurb on the Sentinel site and was disappointed you would end on to that bit of conjecture. maybe we should all learn a thing or two about shallow, hurtful and inaccurate comments)

  6. Rick Monahan Says:

    Mr. Baker…you have some very good points as well, but I think some of your data is quite inaccurate. Bush I sent the 10th Mountain Division and Marines in Dec 92 as part of RESTORE HOPE (UN called it UNITAF) with a very simple an straightforward mission of creating a temporary cessation of the violence so that humanitarian efforts could stop what had become a grave humanitarian situation. Somalia had been a failed state for years, and it has no actual history of ever being a functioning state. Restore Hope (Unitaf) did not attempt to build a nation.

    In early 2003, the UN (at Clinton’s direction and support) created UNISOM II. This was simply a more “worldly” approach to Unitaf with a somewhat expanded scope, but nothing inappropriate given the situation. It was not nation building, but was a more long term approach which included about 15 nations. US involvement was significant, but our troops were not engaged in direct combat operations. FYI…I think Clinton’s spearheading of this effort was outstanding and I credit him with the first cohesive use of US forces in humanitarian roles…which I believe is a good thing. While Clinton did not allows execute his military humanitarian interventions well, he at least had the vision to try to do what is right.

    However, it is completely wrong to blame Bush 1 (who had little humanitarian vision) with the failure of Somalia…he sent us there, but he didn’t screw it up. What went wrong in Somalia was TF Ranger and the attempt to apply surgical force to affect a political outcome in a country that has never had a chance for a political outcome. Most Americans never complained about UNISOM, it’s mission, or it’s almost negligible casualties (US casualties in Unitaf and Unisom were almost ALL non-combatant). TF Ranger on Oct 3, 93 as depicted in Blackhawk Down changed all that. The 18 soldiers who died that day were doing great things, but the politics which put them in that situation was failed (ie, taking out Aideed so that nation building could occur).

    As for Mr. Grayson…my question really is why Somalia. I’ve been there many times, and lived there for more than 2 years. No one visits Somalia! If this was a humanitarian visit…then I think he is doing great things. But if so, then why attempt to cover a humanitarian visit inside a political one? Your article mentioned one line of the humanitarian issue, the rest was on politics. There is absolutely no way you could convince an informed person that Grayson went to Somalia to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Bush’s failure. First, the 15th anniversary isn’t until Dec. Second, no real scholar on Somalia credits the failure to Bush. If a failure at all, it is Clinton’s…although I think very undeserved. So what’s the real reason he went????

  7. Rick Monahan Says:

    FYI…..I couldn’t agree more with you on Iraq. You said it well. While the troops are doing great thing, it needs to end NOW. Unlike Somalia, Iraq is a COMPLETE failure of a Bush policy.

  8. Thomas Baker Says:

    Rick thank you for the follow-up. I know we could argue about the mission and point fingers, but lets leave that alone for a minute. I guess I look at it as nation building because that’s what George H W Bush called it himself in 2000. If the man calls it nation building, then hey to me it’s nation building.

    However, I respect what you have to say and will defer on quibbling over points about whose failure it was. Yes I will say that the Somalia political mission was a failure in the broad sense of the word because Somalia is a failed state. Personally I put the blame on the Republican Congress who used it as a way to attack Clinton. If memory serves correct, we had already restored some semblance of order after the tragic “Blackhawk Down” scenario. That is neither here nor there. What you really want to know is why did Alan go to Somalia?

    All I can say on that is Alan is visiting a variety of East African countries to learn more about the area. I know Alan and if he’s interested in something he does it. There doesn’t need to be an ulterior motive other than it seems interesting. The man has traveled the globe because there is stuff out there to learn. You may not believe that, but I do because I’ve seen his family do it often enough. That’s about the best I can explain it. He does it because it can be done.

    Really Rick I know based on your comments in the Orlando Sentinel that you tend to paint Alan as anti-troop, but I challenge you to talk to the man and decide for yourself. Unlike a lot of people I think Alan has worked hard to show just how bad the troops have been shafted in Iraq. Being anti-Bush or anti-war doesn’t make you anti-troops. What person of good conscience could say that the government hasa not abused the troops beyond any semblance of decency by asking them to do what the Bush administration has done?

    If Alan is anti-troop then so am I. I would like to think that people who know me well would disagree with that. Bring it On! has worked hard for years to support the troops with more than just yellow ribbons. Our staff includes several vets; our extended community has several members whose loved ones are serving in Iraq. We cry with them here as a family. We worry for them as a family. We support anyone willing to put on a uniform and serve his country. I wouldn’t work for a man who would dishonor the sacrifices made by our men and women who put on that uniform. It’s as simple as that.

    Thank you again for the discussion Rick. Maybe we will run into each other face to face one day and share a beverage or two.

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