Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kucinich: Moving chess pieces into place

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH is making the rounds in the Seattle area these days and few observers (including this longtime Kucinich chronicler) could ever be convinced that he is simply on a congressional junket to study the Pacific Northwest's natural wonders. Republican redistricting may accomplish what many of his opponents have been unable to do over the years: strip him of his job. Nobody is more aware of this than Kucinich, a street-smart Democrat whose congressional district in the Cleveland area may be wiped out. The lure of an additional seat neighboring Seattle is the most reasonable explanation of why he's gone west. Dennis, the former "boy wonder" who arrived as Cleveland's mayor at age 31, is usually ahead of the curve.

My experience in tracking him in the toxic cauldron of Cleveland politics is that Kucinich seldom does anything just for the hell of it. As mayor, he tormented the Establishment as well numerous Democrats (including the powerful George Forbes ) with his populism - then and now. With no chance of succeeding, he has run for president. But it gave him the platform to attack the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as a TV guest as well as during the candidate debates. He even tried to have President Bush and Veep Dick Cheney impeached - again to make a point about the war rather than actually believing that he could succeed.

An element of his political durability - in a district less liberal than he! - was that some of his opponents who didn't know him well enough concluded that his diminutive size suggested an absence of muscle. But it is equally true that he was a tireless campaigner who was a lot smarter than many of the opponents who were determined to ridicule him right out of office. He was nobody's fool.

When he successfully ran for mayor the Plain Dealer endorsed his two opponents for mayor without mentioning him in the editorial. But in the general election, it shocked everyone in the gallery when it endorsed him. Publisher Tom Vail explained that the editors became convinced that he had learned so much from the campaign that he was the right guy to advance the city.

So Kucinich is moving his chess pieces again and has doubltess examined every potential congressional district that will be created for the 2012 elections. The Washington district is said to be heavily Democratic and of a mind to support liberals. The planets are lining up. Will he go for it? You tell me!

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