Opinion: Dear Dennis, You re hereby uninvited to the debate


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Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the perennial Democratic presidential candidate who just as perennially loses, is fast becoming a perennial debate absentee too.

The former Cleveland mayor, who has been spending the better part of a year now campaigning everywhere but his home district, was left out of the Des Moines Register’s debate last month because he did not have a separate campaign office in the state and didn’t meet polling minimums. Then last weekend he was left out of the ABC-TV Democratic debate in New Hampshire, much as Reps. Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul were excluded from the Fox News Channel Republican debate the next evening. So Paul went before his own nationwide audience on NBC’s ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ and wowed that host.


Kucinich thought he’d made the cut for this coming week’s MSNBC Democratic ....

debate in Las Vegas before the Jan. 19 caucus. He got the invitation and everything. But a day or so later he was un-invited to attend, a kind of Don’t Bother to RSVP.

According to a campaign news release, Kucinich, the only Democratic candidate who voted against the Iraq war, was informed that the original announced criteria to participate in the desert debate had been suddenly changed and now he didn’t qualify anymore.

The original participation criteria required a candidate to be in at least fourth place in a national poll. But NBC changed it to include only the top three candidates, and you’ll never guess who they are: Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama. Nevermind Democratic Party solidarity, those three agreed to show up, and Kucinich is out in the cold or however less warm it gets in Las Vegas this time of year.

But wait a minute. Since New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson dropped out of the race this week and former Sen. Mike Gravel hasn’t really been doing anything related to campaigning, let’s see, that leaves only four Democratic candidates left, which even according to new math, would have Kucinich in fourth place, right?

So Kucinich, the far left candidate, ended up sounding a whole lot like Ron Paul, the libertarian turned Republican. ‘When ‘big media’ exert their unbridled control over what Americans can see, hear and read,’ a campaign statement said, ‘then the constitutional power and right of the citizens to vote is being vetoed by multibillion corporations that want the votes to go their way.’

In other news about election losers, Kucinich has called for an official statewide recount in New Hampshire. He’ll have to pay the cost, but Kucinich is proceeding. Kucinich got less than 2% of the vote, Richardson 5%, Edwards 17%, Obama 36% and Clinton 39%. So that would mean an awful lot of miscounted ballots to change the results.

Anything to avoid returning to Cleveland in mid-January.

-- Andrew Malcolm