Let's talk about Mike Gravel for President in 2008.

You know, since nobody else seems to be. :)
I'm going to break my self imposed rule of not talking about 2008 until 2006 elections are over for a few moments here to get this post out and talk about Maurice Robert Gravel, aka former Senator Mike Gravel.

Who? Why?
Well, yeah, see that's most peoples reaction... Yet he's running and over and over again he's not included in straw polls, he is a declared candidate, fringe though he may be.

So who is Mike Gravel anyway?
More below.

From his Wikipedia entry:

Maurice Robert Gravel (born May 13, 1930) better known as Mike Gravel, was a Democratic U.S. Senator from Alaska for two terms, from 1969 to 1981.

Gravel served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1962 to 1966. During the last two years of his term, he served as the Speaker of the House. He left that body to run for Alaska's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, losing to Howard Wallace Pollock.

In 1968, he ran against incumbent Democratic Senator Ernest Gruening, a popular former governor, for his party's nomination to the U.S. Senate, unexpectedly beating him in the primary and going on to win the general election.

During his first term in the Senate, Gravel authored a book titled Citizen Power. In it, he advocated the implementation of numerous social democratic ideas, including a guaranteed annual income, which he termed a "citizen's wage", of $5,000 per person, regardless of whether the person worked.

In 1971, the same year that he placed more than 4000 pages of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record, he embarked on a one-man filibuster against a bill renewing the draft. Using various parliamentary methods, Gravel was able to block the bill for five months before President Richard Nixon and Senate Republicans agreed to allow the draft to expire in 1973.

Gravel actively campaigned for the office of Vice President of the United States during the 1972 presidential election. At the 1972 Democratic National Convention, he nominated himself for the post and won 226 delegate votes, coming in third behind Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri, who was the convention's choice, and Frances "Sissy" Farenthold, who got 407 votes (see[1]).

In 1980, he was challenged for renomination by State Representative Clark Gruening, the grandson of Ernest, who unexpectedly defeated Gravel in the primary. Gruening would go on to lose in the general election to Republican Frank Murkowski.

ok, interesting stuff, maybe some kind of dustbin of history stuff, but still, he is declared as a candidate, which is more then a lot of the people we talk about all the time are.

but his site is interesting.

he's for pullout in Iraq, Direct Democracy (including I think banishment of the electoral college?)

the only alarming things about Mr. Gravel, whose quixotic but serious candidacy actually looks ok, is his tax policies, which seem... uh... odd to say the least, and the fact that he was  chairman of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution. A conservative, but non-sectarian think tank.

As i've said that's alarming.

Former Tocqueville Chairman Mike Gravel will seek the White House in 2008, according to widespread reports. (He thus joins such former Tocquevillians as Jack Kemp and Joe Lieberman in the race for the White House -- not to mention project advisors John McCain and Bill Bradley.)

Kemp and Lieberman make me raise an eyebrow to say the least, but Bill Bradley? hunh.

hmm... yet he's for direct democracy and Iraq war pullout, interesting.

Nevertheless, Gravel is an announced candidate, so he should be addressed.

Since he's a little before my time, anybody remember his term?


Tags: 2008 elections, Alaska, Mike Gravel, president, senator (all tags)



Re: Let's talk about Mike Gravel for President

Mo Udall's book, Too Funny to be President, paints an extremely unflattering picture of Gravel. Gravel opposed land conservation in Alaska that was supported by the vast majority of Americans, and used every dirty trick in the book to fight Udall. Interestingly enough, Udall also refers several times to Gravel's legendary feud with Ted Stevens. I wouldn't usually consider a politican who gets on Ted Stevens' nerves a bad guy, but when Ted Stevens blames you for the death of his wife, that's sounds pretty bad.

by JRyan 2006-07-25 12:19PM | 0 recs
holy crow!

He blames him for the death of his wife?!!

you can't just leave a hook like that out there on it's own, what is the deal there?


by neutron 2006-07-25 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: holy crow!

I didn't have the book with me at work. Here is the relevant passage, though:

"When Congress recessed, Gravel and Stevens flew back to Alaska to regroup their forces. Here their long-running feud turned tragic. On a trip to Anchorage, Stevens' plane crashed on landing, killing his wife and injuring him. Later, Stevens would say, and with no little bitterness, that the trip would not have been necessary had Gravel not filibustered the compromise bill. He never forgave Gravel for forcing the fatal flight."

by JRyan 2006-07-25 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's talk about Mike Gravel for President

While it is true that Alaskan lands conservation had/has broad support among Americans, this was not true among Alaskans.  It could be argued that more than any other factor, the Alaskan lands act of 1980 turned that state hard Republican for a generation.  Alaska used to lean Democratic from statehood thru the 1970s.  Gravel was only doing his job as a Senator - representing the views of his constituents.  Note that I am not expressing agreement as I generally support wilderness conservation.  But this shouldn't be held against Gravel.

On other matters:  He isn't a perennial candidate so can't be consigned to the status of a Harold Stassen.  His support of a flat tax doesn't put him beyond the pale, since that is Jerry Brown's position too and he ran on that issue in 1992.  He's a former two term U.S. Senator.  He was one of the better known and respected Senators among liberals in the 1970s, some of whom (Frank Church, George McGovern) lost their seats in 1980 at the same time as Gravel did.  He briefly gained status as an antiwar leader for filibustering the renewal of the draft and for reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record - much as Dennis Kucinich did more recently.

Apart from him having been out of major office since 1980, I don't see any reason to be leaving him out of straw polls.  Let him in.  Fact is, he will probably go further in the primaries than several of the ho-hum candidates like Biden and Vilsack who will be dropping out after they poll 1% in New Hampshire.  That is not to say he has a chance of winning, but it is candidates like him who make Presidential primaries more interesting.

by ACSR 2006-07-25 01:27PM | 0 recs
the best argument against him...

seems to be that he's too old and yeah, he might be... but as you said he's more of a "get the ideas out there" type of candidate.

The flat tax thing isn't beyond the pale, but it is a pretty big eyebrow raiser for me.

excellent analysis, thank you for the post.


by neutron 2006-07-25 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's talk about Mike Gravel for President

"It could be argued that more than any other factor, the Alaskan lands act of 1980 turned that state hard Republican for a generation.  Alaska used to lean Democratic from statehood thru the 1970s."

Nah, everything I've read states that Alaskans were ultra-libertarian and ultra-right-wing way before 1980. I'm pretty sure the only reason democrats managed to hang on so long was because Alaska was made a state in 1958, a strong democratic year. The entire delegation was democratic, and thus managed to survive on incumbency until Hale Boggs and the Alaska rep went down, Ted Stevens was elected, and Gruening beat Gravel in the '80 primary.

"Gravel was only doing his job as a Senator - representing the views of his constituents"

I'm not equating conservation with Civil Rights, but it could be argued that Eastland, Wallace and Stennis were only doing their jobs as elected officials. Sometimes you have to do what's right. Believe me though, I don't fault Gravel for being human, I just don't feel the incident reflects well upon him.

by JRyan 2006-07-25 06:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's talk about Mike Gravel for President

Senator Gravel supports a "Fair Tax" on consumption, ie. a sales tax, not a "Flat Tax."

by ejent 2006-07-27 06:02PM | 0 recs


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