Friday, Jan. 18, 2008 | 2 a.m.
One word can sum up George W. Bush’s presidency: incompetence.
For seven years this nation has been subjected to an administration riddled with abject failures of leadership -- Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war instantly come to mind. We also have had an administration infested with cronyism and drenched in secrecy.
The American people naturally are demanding change, and the 2006 election was the first evidence of this, as Democrats regained control of both houses of Congress. But the Democrats hold a majority too slim to override vetoes, and Bush and Senate Republicans have obstructed Democratic legislation.
This year’s presidential election offers an opportunity to change course and get our country moving in the right direction again. And, this Saturday, Nevadans will have their say.
The Republicans are holding a presidential nominating caucus, but nearly all of the party’s candidates have ignored Nevada. One reason is that the Republicans are having a nonbinding caucus, a straw poll of Republicans that won’t decide anything. Furthermore, the candidates are opting to campaign in the GOP battleground state of South Carolina, which is holding its primary on the same day as Nevada’s presidential caucus, rendering our state’s GOP outcome virtually meaningless.
In stark contrast, Nevada has become a battleground for the Democrats.
The top three Democratic candidates -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards -- have vigorously vied for votes here. Edwards is still in the race, but this really is a two-person contest between Clinton and Obama, because Edwards’ campaign hasn’t caught on nationally.
Obama has been in the Senate for just three years, so the question is whether he is the most experienced Democratic candidate to immediately assume the presidency on Jan. 20, 2009. Although Obama is likable, so was the inexperienced George W. Bush before he became president -- and we know where that got us.
Additionally, is Obama the best Democratic candidate to run against whomever the Republicans nominate this year? Although the Republican field has failed so far to dazzle its party’s faithful -- let alone independents or Democrats -- rest assured that if the past is any guide the GOP nominee will do just about anything to keep the White House.
The Democratic nominee will need to be the kind of individual who has been through grueling campaigns and has the mettle not only to stand up to the Republican nominee’s hardball tactics but also to deliver a message of positive change that will take this country forward again.
Clinton has a long and substantial record of leadership fighting on behalf of working Americans and children, and it is this experience and her passion for creating a better country that would serve this nation so well.
Our country needs someone who can be president from Day One after taking the oath of office. Her steadiness and resolve certainly would aid us in reestablishing better relations with other nations after Bush’s go-it-alone foreign policy, not to mention a thoughtful and responsible policy regarding our combat troops in Iraq.
On domestic issues, such as the economy and health care, Clinton clearly has the best command of the issues, as was witnessed in Tuesday’s debate in Las Vegas. For example, in contrast to Obama’s health care plan, Clinton’s would truly offer universal health care coverage. She also has an economic stimulus plan, including tax rebates for working- and middle-class families, that could help jump-start our sluggish economy, which is in danger of heading into a recession. We need someone in the White House who can get our economy back to the way it was when Hillary’s husband, Bill, was president.
Of special interest to Nevadans are the candidates’ views on the federal government’s efforts to bury the nation’s nuclear waste 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The three leading Democratic presidential candidates say they would stop the Yucca Mountain project, but rhetoric can be just that, rhetoric.
Clinton’s longtime opposition stands out.
Despite the fact that her state relies heavily on nuclear power for its energy, and that the companies providing that power desperately want the nuclear waste buried in Nevada, Clinton stood with Nevada when George Bush’s plan for Yucca Mountain went before Congress. Clinton voted with Nevada, and against the dump. Edwards, whose state has nuclear power, voted for the dump. Obama wasn’t yet elected to the Senate, but it should be noted that the energy corporation Exelon, the sixth-largest donor to his presidential campaign, supports a nuclear waste dump in Nevada.
If Nevada is to stand a chance of killing the nuclear waste dump, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is going to need a friend in the White House, and that friend would be Clinton.
As we see it, the only obstacle in Clinton’s way in Nevada is the unfair caucus system that has been set up, specifically the rule that allows on-site voting at casino workplaces on the Strip. Not only is it unfair because it isn’t an option for noncasino workers who can’t get away from work, but it also enables the Culinary Union, which has endorsed Obama, to pressure its members into voting for their union’s endorsed candidate even if they prefer Clinton.
Nonetheless, it is our sincere hope that Nevadans on Saturday turn out for the caucus in large numbers and vote for Hillary Clinton, who stands ready to restore dignity and competence to the Oval Office.