Twenty below zero in the morning, but the water tower was warm. Spent the day cleaning up 15 years of squirrel mess. Went to the Wolfeboro Library to confirm that Clark would be speaking at 7:30 at Alvirne High School in Hudson, near Nashua. Except for Lieberman, no other candidates would be in New Hampshire until the 20th. Called home and told Lisa I’d be back the next day, and then back to New Hampshire the 19th.
When I reached the high school, the auditorium was packed with nearly 500 people. The radio had spoken of Clark gaining momentum in New Hampshire, and there it was—standing room only.
Brought a “Self-Employed Unite” poster, but was told by a staffer that not only could I not display it, I could not hold it. The staffer safely placed it in a corner, and then I understood why other birddoggers were wearing tee shirts with their message.
Before Clark arrived, the audience watched a 20-minute film dedicated to Clark’s patriotism, service, intelligence, leadership and love of family.
When Clark spoke, he immediately addressed the war, declaring that it was ill-conceived, terribly planned, and not necessary. As former Treasury Secretary O’Neill recently stated, the Bush Administration wanted to engage Iraq in war long before 9/11. Clark was the leader that could get the United States out of this mess (though he didn’t say how).
Clark then went on to speak speak of his faith. His father had been Jewish, his mother Methodist, and he’d grown up Methodist. As an adult, he’d been drawn back to religion, but this time joined a Baptist Church for no other reason than that he liked the stained glass windows. He’d studied many religions, and he believed they all had one thing in common—the more privileged must give to the needy. Therefore, when the Bush Administration described itself as faith-based, he did not understand what they were talking about. What religion calls for rewarding the rich at the expense of the poor? Family values—is destroying the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts a family value? Is underfunding education a family value? Is no health insurance for millions of Americans a family value?
Clark’s speech was short. Placed in the center of the auditorium, he made three deliberate circles, asking questions throughout the space. He answered a question about his tax plan. No citizen would pay a dime in income tax if he made less than $50,000. He would repeal all the Bush tax cuts to people that made over $200,000, and increase by 5% the income tax for the quarter million families that made over a million dollars a year. This is how he’d fund his education and health programs, and at the same time bring down the deficit, although not eliminating it. Most of his life in the military he’d made less than $50,000 a year. He knew just how valuable a dollar was to working people. This informed all his economic policies. In the military, he had dedicated himself to expanding opportunity to all; regardless of race, gender or class. He would carry those principles into the Presidency.
Clark was asked about the American Empire. He stated that the United States had a peculiar place in the world because our economy was based on consuming more than it produced; nearly all the other nations of the world had economies that failed when production was less than consumption. The world economy counted on the United States consuming more than it produced. Therefore, one of the most dangerous aspects of the Bush Administration was that it completely undermined the world’s trust in this system. Trust in the United States government had to be restored for the world economic system to continue.
Clark was asked about global warming. He replied that the planet was in crisis and that large investments were needed in renewable energy technologies. The record breaking cold in New Hampshire was an example of the extremes of temperature that were expected when the planet was in a period of climate change.
A pharmacist asked about the outrageous cost of many prescription drugs. Clark described how expensive it was to develop a drug and then test it for FDA approval. Other countries bought in bulk and refused to pay the high cost the pharmaceuticals charged, so Big Pharma made up the difference here in the United States. As President, Clark would deal with these trade inequities that were responsible for high drug prices. He would also look into the pharmaceutical’s huge profits.
Clark concluded the evening by stating that the United States was beacon of hope for the world’s poor and disadvantaged, but that light was fading. He wanted to restore that light.
Clark received strong applause when he concluded, but the audience did not erupt out of their chairs as they had with Edwards the night before.
Drove to my brother’s house in Wellesley. Watched the news with him and caught a couple of political commercials. One with Edwards jogging like an old man, interspersed with clips of Edwards fighting for jobs, education and health reform. I wondered if his lame stride was in fact meant to make him look older. The other commercial was of Dean forcefully describing how as President he would create two million jobs. I was shocked that the commercial ended with a smirk, and wondered if it was just impossible to wipe it off his face, or his media people considered it his trademark.