« Things I Learned In The Great Porn Conversation | Main | Economist Groupthink »

May 07, 2007

Why Gravel's Running

I'm always fascinated by the psychology of long-shot candidates, particularly those without a natural, personal constituency. It makes sense for Dennis Kucinich to run, as he raises his profile among progressives. Sharpton's effort had an internal consistency as well, helping him elevate his role as a leader in the African-American community. But Mike Gravel? I had assumed he was a single-issue candidate fighting to increase the visibility of his national referendum idea. And while that may have been true at the start, an interesting profile of Gravel over at Salon suggests it's no longer his motivating force:

"In order to get [the national referendum] enacted, a friend of mine suggested, 'Gravel, you've got to run for president.' I was not interested at first," Gravel says. "And then I realized that this could be an opportunity to make it known, so I told friends that I was running for president, and they were all excited ... But I didn't really think I could win. Around January of '06, I was looking at the other candidates, and I started to say, 'I don't know if I can win, but I sure can beat them.'"

Meanwhile, Gravel's personal experience with both bankruptcy and health costs is...interesting:

Gravel is running for president despite a post-Senate résumé, a financial history and a medical chart that might give a more introspective man pause. His single-minded pursuit of the national initiative, as well as three surgeries in 2003, one to install rods in his back and two for neuropathy, drove him into bankruptcy in 2004. In his filing, Gravel listed $85,000 in credit card debt and virtually no assets beyond a car.

Most politicians would think twice about running for president in 2008 if they had declared bankruptcy four years earlier. This one, however, doesn't mind discussing his bankruptcy in detail. "After [the National Initiative] had done a conference, raised some money for that, didn't have enough money, I started using credit cards. I had about five, six credit cards. So when I really had a bad year healthwise, there was concern about my wife, because she might be liable for what had occurred, and it was all done for the National Initiative. And she said, 'Well, maybe you should think about bankruptcy.'" Gravel had watched one of his business concerns go bankrupt two decades before. "I had been there. I didn't want to mess with that again. And then I thought about it: 'My God, isn't this interesting? I'm going to get these six credit card companies who have been predators on normal people. I'm going to get them to contribute to the National Initiative.' And I filed bankruptcy just in a heartbeat, and that was it."

Without knowing the details of his financial situation, it's a bit tricky to separate what's bluster and post hoc rationalizing, but it sure sounds like Gravel is saying his bankruptcy was an essentially fraudulent act triggered by his dislike of credit card companies. Now, it's not that I lack sympathy for the targets, but that seems an odd admission.

May 7, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

I'm surprised more longshot candidates don't run, if only for mere attention. Two months ago, no one knew his name, now at least some people know it's pronounced with accent on the second syllable.

When his race is over, he'll be on no more talk shows and only his friend will listen to him. Now, he gets to meet the famous and infamous in green rooms of Colbert, CNN, MSWNBC, etc.

That's the Good Life, at least for attention-whores. I'm not saying he is one of those, but I'm sure there are a few million of them in the US, and more of them could be longshot candidates.

Posted by: blatherskite | May 7, 2007 9:47:30 AM

> It makes sense for Dennis Kucinich to
> run, as he raises his profile among
> progressives.

Actually, Kucinich's constituency (outside of his home district) is actually the very far left, not progressives. Of course that is the real "very far left", not the Radical Right's parody strawman of same, but he is still way farther left than 99.73% of progressives.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | May 7, 2007 9:49:31 AM

Where do you get 'fraud' out of that? Disliking the credit card companies made it attractive where it might not have been otherwise, but that's not fraud -- having no other conceivable alternative isn't the standard for being allowed to declare bankruptcy.

Posted by: LizardBreath | May 7, 2007 9:53:45 AM

If you went into bankruptcy motivated by a dislike for credit companies and a glee over making them contribute to your cool initiative, it doesn't sound to me like you had no other conceivable alternative. As i said, without seeing his finances, none of us can say for sure, but he's presented this rather oddly.

Posted by: Ezra | May 7, 2007 10:02:17 AM

but it sure sounds like Gravel is saying his bankruptcy was an essentially fraudulent act triggered by his dislike of credit card companies.

Did he decide to go bankrupt BEFORE he used the credit cards?

Or did was he deep in credit card hell and trying to determine his best option, when the notion of the irony involved came up?

If you went into bankruptcy motivated by a dislike for credit companies and a glee over making them contribute to your cool initiative, it doesn't sound to me like you had no other conceivable alternative.

A) Did he go into bankruptcy because of debt or because of his dislike for credit card companies? B) Was he motivated because of debt or to get payback? C) Did he weigh his options based solely on his debt, or did other factors enter into that? D) Did a judge determine he was eligible or did he determine that on his own? E) Were his creditors allowed a chance to respond at his bankruptcy hearing or were they kept out of the courtroom?

I think the answer to all of these, except for (C) is that "payback" had nothing to do with his motivation, eligibility, or judgment. And I don't know how much you know about bankruptcy, but (E) is a definite yes, and in fact, they are given a chance at the bankruptcy hearing and even afterwards to contest it and challenge it, and they have full time lawyers paid to do nothing but that.

Is it difficult for you to understand that medical costs drive lots of people into bankruptcy? Or that almost no one wants to go bankrupt and many people struggle for months and years fighting a losing battle to pay their debts down?

Along with discussing healthcare, you might want to examine the problems that usurious interest rates and exorbitant fees cost people.

Posted by: anon | May 7, 2007 10:33:22 AM

Did you watch the debate? This seems entirely consistent with the character on display there. The man does not have issues, he has a subscription.

Posted by: Nick | May 7, 2007 10:50:30 AM

If you watched the debate, it's pretty obvious why he's running. He's terrified by the top three contenders, as well as Joe Biden who has "a certain arrogance", and he think Barrack Obama will start a nuclear war. He didn't bring up the national referendums, he brought up the threat that the military industrial complex poses to global peace and prosperity. Its too bad we can't have someone a little more mainstream than Kucinich or Gravel in their other policies saying things like "We don't have any enemies... Who are we afraid of? Who are you afraid of, Brian?!"

Posted by: Sam L. | May 7, 2007 11:28:18 AM

Sam L., I'm with you. Just as economists are forced to to take a mindlessly pro-free trade stance so they don't give ammunition to the protectionists, it seems that politicians compete with each other over who supports growing the military the most and who is the most hawkish in an attempt to be seen as tough on foreign policy. The overall effect is that what passes for a reasonable, centrist foreign policy is, as Gravel says, insane. I find all the major candidates solidly into unacceptable territory. Unlike the vote for the Iraq war, where it was evident that many Dems, including Clinton and Edwards, voted for it because they felt they had to to remain politically viable and not because they felt it was good policy, I can't determine whether someone like Obama--whose stated desire for a troop increase recently won praise from neocon Rober Kagan--believes his hawkishness is good policy or is merely posturing to look strong on national defense. Either way, it doesn't matter. Gravel is correct about Obama's foreign policy views. They may be mainstream, but to me they are beyond the pale.

Posted by: Mitch Schindler | May 7, 2007 12:59:42 PM

Its too bad we can't have someone a little more mainstream than Kucinich or Gravel in their other policies saying things like "We don't have any enemies... Who are we afraid of? Who are you afraid of, Brian?!"

It's Kucinich and Gravel's unorthodoxy on military issues that makes them not mainstream, not their other positions, which are actually fairly mainstream liberal. Granted, the national initiative is fairly eccentric, and Kucinich is to the left of the other candidates on most issues. But I guarantee you that ANY candidate, no matter how centrist on other matters, who advocated substantial cuts in military spending would be regarded as a lunatic extremist.

Posted by: Jason | May 7, 2007 1:10:37 PM

Ezra, you will note that Lizard-Breath said, "having no other conceivable alternative ISN'T [emphasis added] the standard for being allowed to declare bankruptcy." It isn't and it shouldn't be. There's no fraud there.

I think I'm warming to this Gravel kook.

Posted by: Adrian | May 7, 2007 1:19:43 PM

I agree with the commenters above that fraud is intentional, and it seems clear that Mike didn't intend to run up a big credit card debt for the purpose of screwing the credit card companies or just living high personally and then doing bankruptcy.

His explanation of this maybe could have been more suavely stated, perhaps.

Sam L's comment is right on: he brought up the threat that the military industrial complex poses to global peace and prosperity. Its too bad we can't have someone a little more mainstream than Kucinich or Gravel in their other policies saying things like "We don't have any enemies... Who are we afraid of? Who are you afraid of, Brian?!"

The whole 'fear of the other' thing that the right has brought to our dialogue and spending priorities needs to be challenged, over and over. [see my comment in the free trade post following this post on why we have a major major problem with being 'the indespensible nation' (read empire)]

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | May 7, 2007 1:41:14 PM

Jason, Gravel is a serious libertarian who supports a national sales tax and or flat income tax. Kucinich is a vegan who believes in some pretty wacky new-age religious stuff. Neither would be a viable candidate, even with hawkish foreign policy views. That being said, you're quite right that a peace candidate would probably be marginalized even if he did have a centrist record elsewhere.

Posted by: Sam L. | May 7, 2007 4:23:44 PM

I've only recently started to read about Gravel and come up to speed, but it's quite amazing to read -- on blogs, in news stories, etc. -- how many people agree with him on many, many issues. The man has guts, he's dead-on right about the big issues, he's a straight talker, and he's got my vote. Who else is talking about the military-industrial complex? That, to me, is huge.

Posted by: Massachusetts Voter | Jul 12, 2007 6:27:18 PM

托盘
托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
木制托盘
纸托盘
木塑托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
钢托盘
木托盘
钢制托盘
托盘
塑料托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
南京托盘
南京钢托盘
上海托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
南京托盘
南京钢托盘
上海托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
纸托盘
南京托盘
上海托盘
北京托盘
广州托盘
杭州托盘
成都托盘
武汉托盘
长沙托盘
合肥托盘
苏州托盘
无锡托盘
昆山托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
纸托盘
南京托盘
南京钢制托盘
南京钢托盘
上海托盘
北京托盘

托盘
托盘
托盘
托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
塑料托盘
塑料托盘

托盘
塑料托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
铁托盘
托盘
钢托盘
铁托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘

托盘
钢托盘
铁托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
托盘
钢托盘
铁托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘

托盘
托盘
钢托盘
钢托盘
铁托盘
铁托盘
钢制托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
塑料托盘

托盘
钢托盘
铁托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
托盘
钢托盘
铁托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
托盘
钢托盘
铁托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘

托盘
钢托盘
铁托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘
托盘
托盘
托盘
钢托盘
铁托盘
钢制托盘
塑料托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
铁托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
木制托盘
纸托盘
木塑托盘
柱式托盘
波纹托盘
镀锌托盘
南京托盘
上海托盘
北京托盘
广州托盘
托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
铁托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
木制托盘
纸托盘
木塑托盘
柱式托盘
波纹板托盘
镀锌托盘
南京托盘
上海托盘
北京托盘
广州托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
铁托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
木制托盘
纸托盘
木塑托盘
柱式托盘
波纹托盘
镀锌托盘
南京托盘
上海托盘
北京托盘
广州托盘
托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
铁托盘
木托盘
塑料托盘
木塑托盘
柱式托盘
波纹板托盘
镀锌托盘
南京托盘
上海托盘
北京托盘
广州托盘

托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
铁托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
木制托盘
纸托盘
木塑托盘
柱式托盘
波纹托盘
镀锌托盘
南京托盘
上海托盘
北京托盘
广州托盘
托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
铁托盘
塑料托盘
木托盘
纸托盘
木塑托盘
柱式托盘
波纹板托盘
镀锌托盘
南京托盘
上海托盘
北京托盘
广州托盘


托盘
钢托盘
钢制托盘
托盘
塑料托盘

Posted by: judy | Oct 8, 2007 5:55:41 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.