US Presidential Politics #3

All credit to him. Mike Huckabee has a sense of humour about his prospects in the US election.

So now that Mitt Romney has dropped out there are only three candidates worth taking seriously. Since this is Stuffed and Starved I ought probably to find a food related angle to the candidates, rather than posting a couple more suprisingly good Saturday Night Live clips like this one

or this one

So I took it upon myself to find out what each of the candidates thought about food and food politics. By far the most detailed and thoughtful proposals come from Barack Obama who has a brace of sound policies, from Country of Origin Labelling to a coherent plan to combat the rural methamphetamine epidemic (about which no other candidate seems to know). Runner up is Hillary Clinton, with some of
Obama’s policies, but with a great deal more waffle, and far fewer details. (Rather different from the rhetoric we’re hearing in the debates, no?)

The least impressive, by a country mile, is John McCain. He has nothing really about his rural policies, at least not on his website. Instead, he’s got a video in the ‘Environment’ section (which I can’t bring myself to link to), holding up his favourite environmental Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan (he of ‘trees cause pollution’ fame). This is the same John McCain who scored zero on the League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard, distinguishing himself by being the only congressperson to miss every important environmental vote. So perhaps it’s not surprising that there’s nothing to see on rural issues Chez McCain.

Curious, I wrote to the campaign to find out what their position was. They’ve not written back. Busy I imagine. But one organisation that has something of an interest in finding out what the candidates think about farm-related issues are the National Corn Growers Association. Their Iowa branch sent out a questionnaire to all the candidates, asking specifically about candidate’s commitment to agrofuels. McCain didn’t reply, but Obama and Clinton did. The links are worth clicking on for a broad overview of what the candidates think about food policy.

And anyone expecting a seismic shift in the way the US goes about its food production, distribution and consumption, really shouldn’t hold their breath. All three seem, in various ways, to be taking only the most token of potshots at agribusiness (Obama goes the furthest). And, in a case of life imitating one of the best episodes of West Wing we’ve got the Democrats biting their tongues to support ethanol, while the republican is a little more ambivalent about it.

So, agribusiness as usual, then, from both sides of the house. Don’t believe me? Here’s a clip from today’s San Francisco Comical:

As Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton toured the land denouncing special interests, giveaways to the rich, home foreclosures, job losses and a middle-class squeeze, back in Washington House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats met behind closed doors on a plan to raise taxes and cut food stamp money to protect billions of dollars for agribusiness, a sector of the economy that is booming.

The trick, with this election in particular, will be to keep remembering to keep expectations low, no matter how high the rhetoric soars. Which is why it’s so good to have comedians remind us that this is, after all, Washington we’re talking about.

Oh, and to bring together the Presidential politics with the ever popular Outback Steakhouse theme, here’s The Daily Show…

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