Is Mike Gravel The Best Choice For President?

By Mike Cooper II  |  06/08/2007

Remember when one slip of the tongue cost Howard Dean the 2004 presidential election, the democrats having to replace him with skelton? He would be so much better than the current alternative we're stuck with, excited speech derailed his train unfortunately.

Who's got control of your views? The news, the media, or that film you've taken your girl to? Uncle Sam has got a plan, one that we've got to understand.

As Chris "Tweety" Matthews swanked over Clinton's wardrobe and diamond necklace, something miraculous happened, a man running for President of the United States spoke the truth, the whole truth and nothing but it. Not in coded double talk, but in straight up in your face lingo that a caveman could understand. No offense to the caveman.

However, only in America, can a man who happened to be the mayor of New York City, the site of two terrorist strikes in the past 15 years, run on a platform of being strong on terrorism.

Only in this country can two senators, Edwards and Clinton, come out staunchly against a war they both voted for originally, for the sake of votes, to not upset the sweeping patriotism of the day. And by the way, it was a war initiated by a bill that Edwards co-signed. That's pure licking of the finger and sticking it in the air to see which way the winds of public opinion blow. Iraq had not attacked us, even if they did possess weapons, we had no right to invade them. It doesn't make sense to attack a nation in fear they "might" strike at you. Imagine busting a cap into someone in a dark alley because you were afraid of a possibility he might shoot you (with a gun he didn't have). That might make sense in your mind, but the cop who pulls up is going to see it differently. The problem is that the U.S. is supposed to be the world's cop.

Politicians love the sound of their own voice, they love their quaint office, their mansion on the banks of the Potomac River, free food, having cute 14-year-old interns fetch them coffee, the expensive haircuts, a future statue in their honor, the frequent interviews on the television, schools named after them, and most of all, that feeling that there will one day be a paragraph or two dedicated to them in a history book in that school.

While still early, this upcoming Presidential race potentially is the most crucial in ages. Not to mention the site of the first debate for the democrats, South Carolina State University, was where three students were killed and 27 others injured when state police opened fire on students protesting a segregated bowling alley at a peak of the civil rights movement. The implications and undertones of the debate were remarkable.


When I flipped the dial to the debate featuring eight democratic hopefuls, it was chopped full of those "Washington Insider" types, and "savior" of the black community Barack Obama, but one man stood out. His name is Mike Gravel and he's been out of political office since before many of us were even born. He was out of politics before our parents gave up on a regular sex life and decided to procreate. He was out of politics before hip-hop had surfaced on the streets. He was out of politics when smoking cigarettes was still considered healthy. He left politics when they still rode on horseback down the dirt roads of D.C.

Plus he is from Alaska for crying out loud and must know more about Canadian, and dare I say Russian culture. How could he lead us in these trying times?

However when picturing myself standing up there in front of one of eight podiums at South Carolina State University, fielding questions from the obliviously dense Brain Williams of NBC, I saw myself reeling off the same ripostes that my now political hero Gravel was shouting out with his "gravelly" Alaskan drawl.

We're at war for Christ sake. Could you imagine Lincoln and Douglas speaking out both sides of their mouths with calculated caution, with civil dilemma on the horizon? What if Reagan had simply said, "Mr. Gorbachev I humbly disagree with your judgment to maintain this wall." Could you imagine Patrick Henry saying, "Well what I think the best course of action in this meticulous situation is, given the circumstances, to wait it out?" No he shouted from the depths of his soul, "Give me liberty or give me death." Those are speeches and commentary that stand to be remembered, not John Edwards' awe-inspiring tale of coming up from rags to riches or Joe Biden's one word answer.

Hastily the conventional media branded Gravel as fanatical or two elderly, despite their love affection for a just as old and far more senile John McCain.

The media is in love with what sells adverts, a black man feel good story and a female former first lady. We're due for an African-American president, but one that's qualified, say Al Sharpton. He's not cute though. However, and in light of Obama's rock star appeal, the greatest leaders in this nation's past are far from sexy celebrity figures. George Washington never had a child with his wife Martha because he couldn't get it up. Thomas Jefferson mumbled while giving important addresses. Grant was tone-deaf. Howard "The Whale" Taft got stuck in the White House bathroom on numerous occasions. Ben Franklin was a genius, but a peculiar and portly one at that. Adams was cantankerous. Lincoln was unsightly. Roosevelt was a cripple. Woodrow Wilson was monotonous.

But back then our great leaders had credentials and experience, not endorsements and treasure troves. Back in the day they picked candidates based on what they'd accomplished, not on how good they looked in a suit or how well they handled an interview with Jon Stewart.

These are trying times in this nation's history and being outraged about it is far from a symptom of being eccentric. Who's not pissed off about the way the war has been managed, or the way the environment has been all but forgotten?

For over half a century, liberals have been labeled as whiny and wishy-washy. Now we have a candidate who is telling like it is, speaking with a majority tongue, being called nuts.

This is supposed to be a country where anyone can grow up to be President, and while Edwards may have grown up in an outhouse surrounded by chickens and goats, Gravel has been staying in cheap motels on this campaign, assuring the security at each stop that he is actually a politician. At the end of March 2007, his campaign had less than $500 in cash on hand against debts of nearly $90,000.

This is the same Gravel who set out on a one man filibuster to end the draft. For five months, by the way, before ole "Tricky Dick" gave in. This is the same Gravel who introduced the Pentagon Papers into congressional record, or else most of us would have never heard about them.

Actions speak louder than words. Crazy is as crazy does. Gravel might sound unhinged in the debate format, only because he cares though. The other candidates adore power, Gravel adores people. And someone who adores democracy in its true sense will not, cannot, and should not speak softly when given an audience.

Here now we have a one term senator in Edwards, still in his first term Obama, and a former first lady who had to relocate up north to make it into the senate, versus a man who quit the senate because he thought it was corrupt. Anyone who thinks their colleagues suck would ditch town too.

Gravel has fought for a guaranteed annual income, tried to do away with voter registration, so everyone can easily vote; advocates the decimalization of marijuana for use and possession; had called on congress to outlaw torture; lambasted the military industrial complex, which secretly dictates our foreign policy; wants to sign the Kyoto Protocol; and praised the idea of universal health care.

When we bombed Hiroshima in 1945, it sent the world into "Cold War Fever, Cold War Fear" and as Gravel so nicely put it, responding to Obama, "How can we prevent other nations from building nuclear energy at all, when we have thousands of nuclear bombs, who are we planning to nuke?"

A man with no funds, slight support, no coverage, and a bus ticket to the next campaign stop where he will be lucky to be recognized is running not because he has a good chance of winning, but because it's the right thing to do.

It's time to forget this "American Idol" style of voting for what looks right, or sounds right. It's time to start voting for what deep down inside feels right. The aforementioned democratic debate featured seven skilled and versed politicians and one free thinking individual with a divine spark that can never be doused. Records speak for themselves, not words.