Mike Gravel's Refreshing Candor
By EV World
"I plan to speak... to power, today," began former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel to the leadership of the Democrat Party at their annual winter conference. He was one of four presidential hopefuls invited to speak on February 3, 2007 at the Washington, D.C. event that included Senator Joe Biden (Del) and Governors Bill Richardson (New Mexico) and Tom Vilsack (Iowa).
While all of the speakers enumerated common themes of a bungled war in Iraq and the need to rebuild America's tarnished reputation abroad, while paying more attention to national issues like healthcare and the shrinking fortunes of the middle class, Senator Gravel spoke with such refreshing candor that we decided to make the MP3 audio of his 24-minute speech available to our readers.
"History teaches us that nations fail when leaders fail their people," Gravel said referring not just to the Bush Administration but also to the then-Democrat controlled Senate in 2002 who "provided political cover for George Bush to invade Iraq."
"The Senate leadership could have refused to even take up the resolution and many Senators who opposed it could have mounted a filibuster, but the fear of opposing a popular warrior president on the eve of the mid-term election prevailed. Political calculations trumped morality and the Middle East was set ablaze. The Democrats lost that election anyway, but more so the American people. It was politics as usual.
"Given the extreme importance of any decision to go to war," he continued, "and I am anguished to make this statement, that anyone who voted for the war on October 11th based upon what president Bush presented to them is not qualified to hold the office of the president of the United States."
Gravel's comment met with enthusiastic applause but he was only warming up because what he says subsequently clearly left many in the audience squirming in their seats, but it's long past time -- in our view -- that someone stood up and cut through the militaristic jingoism and patriotic claptrap and talked honestly about America, the good, the bad and the ugly.
It's our opinion at EV World that only by acknowledging our flaws -- as Senator Gravel points out -- that America can finally abandon its counterproductive policy of "exceptionalism" and finally be willing to work in cooperation with the other peoples of the planet to tackle the immense challenges confronting us all, beginning with an appreciation that terrorism is just a symptom of far larger problems stemming from over-population, environmental degradation and economic exploitation that breeds despair, fear and hatred, which then finds expression in religious and political extremism.
You can listen to Gravel's remarkable address in its entirety, which C-Span -- to its credit -- carried twice over the weekend, by using the MP3 players above or by downloading it to your computer for transfer to your favorite MP3 device. This file will also be available on the Apple iTunes podcast service.