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Presidential Hopefuls and the Bloomberg Blues...


Millionaires are heading to the White House, says The New York Times.

Too bad. I'd rather vote for a billionaire, but there's still no word on whether Mayor Michael Bloomberg will join the presidential race. And I'm not holding my breath.

So once again, I'm enduring another race stuffed with scripted debates, wondering if any candidate will lead America toward a better future.

This time around, of course, the primaries start earlier than ridiculously early, which means a relative handful of voters could decide the nominees before I even cast a ballot. Who invented this unrepresentative, semi-democratic system? Oh well. At least no clear front runner has emerged before Super Tuesday.

I'd prefer to practice my voting rights when the time comes, not before everyone else. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this opinion. So here's a plea to all of the candidates now espousing change: once you reach the presidency, please work to reform this and other voting systems that have badly needed overhauling since the 19th century.

Another obsolete system seems to be our Congress. Apparently, we no longer need this body of individuals. No one was checking and balancing before Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John McCain, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and all the other representatives decided to run for president, and none are doing it now.

And as usual, most candidates are not showing that they're interested in the big issues. John Edwards, the $400 haircut man, seems more concerned that Barack Obama is too "nice" to be president. Niceness is one thing we could use in today's world, but none of the current contenders strike me as smiling "lightweights," so don't panic.

Still, Obama is searching for ways to show that he's not so nice. This helps explain why he recently upped the testosterone when proposing how to deal with insurgencies in Pakistan. "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will," he said.

On the Republican side, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is more concerned about building a wall than demonstrating any knowledge of the world. No, he's not building a wall to keep out immigrants. He is building a wall because Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. While trying to explain this connection, Huckabee stumbled, "We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there's any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country."

Last time I checked, Pakistan is nowhere near the southern border. Besides, given that Pakistanis are still recovering from Ms. Bhutto's assassination and helping the Taliban resurge in Afghanistan, crossing the U.S. border probably doesn't make their short list.

Another Republican, Mr. Giuliani, is vowing to destroy Islamic terrorism. Of course, he hasn't been clear on who these terrorists are, where they are, or where they should be destroyed. Ron Paul was right: Mr. Giuliani should have brushed up on foreign policy earlier in his campaign. Maybe then he could talk about more than 9/11 and the weather.

Meanwhile, Governor Romney is spreading so many false statements that even factcheck.org appears to be exhausted from countering his "ridiculous hyperbole."

When it comes to candidates who are both experienced and innovative, consider Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich. Richardson has more international policy experience than anyone. He was a congressman, a UN ambassador, the energy secretary, a governor and a professor of mine at Harvard's Kennedy School.

Kucinich (in July 2001) introduced legislation for a new Department of Peace and Non-Violence. He also opposed the Iraq war and the continued Israeli bombardment of Lebanon. "Strength through peace" is overdue. It has long been ignored as an integral part of U.S. security, and a new president gearing up for "change" -- the current political buzz word -- needs to start focusing on peace in security now.

Too bad for Richardson and Kucinich that peace is unfashionable, which probably accounts for their poor showings to date. Iraq, too, has dropped down on the list of voter priorities. Instead, the campaigns claim to promote some type of undefined "change."

Will any candidate actually produce change?

Senators Clinton, Edwards and Obama are promising national healthcare, troops out of Iraq, and many other things (other than gay marriage). McCain, Romney and Huckabee don't favor gay marriage either, but they want to continue the wars, maintain the status quo and build walls.

I must confess, however, that I was grateful McCain won New Hampshire. At least we know that he has experience, and admits that the status quo must go.

Even so, I would rather support a billionaire -- one with much more gusto, no ties to special interests and a flair for saving the planet -- over the rest of the crowd.