Saturday, January 07, 2006

Changes in Leadership

AP via the Washington Post is reporting that indicted Republican leader Rep. Tom Delay of Texas has let the Republican caucus know that he has decided to abandon his bid to return to the House leadership position he once ruled with an iron fist. Delay was once quoted as declaring, "I am the Federal government."

Before the winter recess, Speaker of the House, Rep. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, delayed the return of the House in order to stave off an attempt to replace the embattled Delay. Hastert owes his leadership position to Delay and is also implicated in the Jack Abramoff scandal that appears to be the straw that broke the Republican leadership back. Yesterday a coalition of House Republican conservatives and moderates began gathering petition signatures in an effort to force an election of new House leadership.

Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Majority Whip and temporary Majority Leader since Delay stepped down, is expected to contend for the Majority Leader position. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, a former member of the leadership is also widely speculated to make a bid. Other members are also likely to be testing to waters for support.

In Israel speculation abounds about likely replacements for Ariel Sharon. Elections are to be held in March. The BBC reports on various possible contenders. Sharon had recently split from the Likud party which he had helped form to create a new party, Kadima.

Sharon's deputy at Likud and Kadima, Ehud Olmert is expected to contend for leadership. Former rival Shimon Peres who split from the Labor Party to join Sharon in Kadima may also make a bid though at 82 his leadership years may be behind him. Binyamin Netanyahu, a far right hardliner who succeeded Sharon as leader of the Likud Party vowing to restore it to its traditional right-wing ideology can also be expected to make a strong play. Labor's new leader, Amir Peretz, who ousted Peres in a surprise move last year, may also contend though it is unknown just how much popular support he can garner. Other contenders from the three parties may also come to the fore in the coming months.

In a bizarre set of circumstance former Peruvian leader Alberto Fujimori, under arrest in Chile and facing extradition to Peru for to face human rights charges, has been put forward to run for re-election as Peruvian leader. Fujimori is bared from office until at least 2012 but his daughter and Vice Presidential candidates filed the paperwork to register Fujimori as a candidate.

Fujimori fled the country for Japan in 2000 with his government mired in a corruption scandal. He has been widely accused of running with the country with an iron fist and abusing it's democratic institutions.

In Great Britain, Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy stepped down from his leadership role following a tumultuous few days that saw an admission of his on-going battle with alcoholism. An election of party leadership had been precipitated by the recent election of David Cameron to the conservative Tory Party. Cameron has made moves to bring the Tories more to the center ground that the Lib Dems hold. Following Kennedy's admission of alcoholism, the rest of the Lib Dem leadership began calling for him to step down.

In a statement addressing the debate between factions of the Liberal Democratic Party, Mr. Kennedy gave some parting words of advise that address strongly some of the divisions, and importantly the portrayals of the divisions, within the Democratic Party in the United States:
"As I have acknowledged before, there is a genuine debate going on within this party, somewhat crudely caricatured at times as being in rather redundant terms as between left and right; in rather simplistic terms as between social liberals and economic liberals; in rather misleading terms as between traditionalists and modernisers.

"I have never accepted that these are irreconcilable instincts. Indeed, quite the opposite, and I believe that unity remains fundamental to our further advance and success."

In a implicit reference to David Cameron, whose election precipitated the leadership crisis in the Liberal Democrats, Mr Kennedy said the party should not be pushed off course by the new Tory leader.

"It must not be allowed to become dictated by others who do not share our long-term hopes and goals. We must stand and argue - politically independent and intellectually self-confident.

"And it must be based on time-honoured, sound philosophic liberal principles - principles which have stood the test of generations and remain not just as relevant to, but even more essential, in British politics today."

Indeed, Mr. Kennedy's parting words ring true for the political debate with the responsible portions of our entire country. Our nations government is mired in scandal brought on by immoral and greedy behavior of the current Republican leadership. Cleaning House... U.S. House, White House and Senate... of the criminal infecting them will leave us with responsible officials with different views and beliefs on how to best solve the nations problems and move us forward as a people.

These different views are most often portrayed as Mr. Kennedy declares. They are also the crude, simplistic, and misleading caricatures that Mr. Kennedy decries. What this nation needs is an honest debate in real terms regarding the very real views that large segments of the population hold about the problems the nations faces, the priorities in fixing them, and the role of government in crafting and instituting solutions. Again, as Mr. Kennedy says, these views are not necessarily irreconcilable nor always incompatible.

But the rampant crime, corruption and b.s. have to removed, or at least contained as much as possible, in order for us to move forward into this honest and genuine debate.

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