The Lowest Common Denominator

This Washington Post story about Bill Richardson’s talk at the Center for National Policy yesterday speaks volumes about the way America conducts its politics today. The story focused, almost next to nothing, on the actual substance of of Richardson’s proposal for how to deal with Iran in the future. Instead, it’s almost strictly a story about how Richardson’s campaign is boring compared to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Indeed, the writer claims that this same “boring” quality is what will make Richardson a good VP-candidate.

The sad reality is: reasonable arguments just don’t sell. Why? Because they are not exciting, not flashy enough. Because we all just need one more self-aggrandizing platitude about hope. Give me a break. It’s sad to me that experience counts for very little, if at all, in any political campaign. But then again, not everyone’s a college graduate.

But back to Richardson’s speech, and unlike the Washington Post story, I’m actually going to talk about what he actually said yesterday. Overall I felt it was a well-argued, reasonable speech that actually says something. Working within a neo-realist IR framework, Richardson is essentially proposing a carrot-and-stick approach to Iran.

However, he failed to address what I thought was two important points, which, if addressed, would’ve made his argument that much stronger. First, he failed to mention, at all, whether or not the military option is off the table. Maybe he doesn’t know and is trying to evade the question, but he should’ve just acknowledged it. Second, he failed to mention whether or not economic sanctions will create greater anti-American sentiments in Iran and cause an increase in fundamentalist/extremist tendencies inside the country.

All in all, not a bad speech, although I would’ve preferred pot roast to cold sandwiches in a plastic box.


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