August 6, 2004
David Cobb's Soft Charade
The Greens & the Politics of Mendacity
By JOSHUA FRANK
(The following is an expansion of a previous article. After receiving numerous emails from Campus Green organizers, former Green co-chair Ben Manski, and many other irate Greens, I felt a need to clarify the misconceptions that are revolving around David Cobb's mundane campaign. And just to clarify, I've been registered Green since 1999, and worked on a number of ballot measures and campaigns.)
Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb has publicly said he is not running a "safe-state" campaign. In a rare interview with Steve Curwood of National Public Radio on July 2, when asked if he was running a "safe-state" strategy, Cobb replied, "No, it's not true. What I've said is I'm going to get on every ballot that I can possibly get on."
Sounds convincing. The guy is not only running in safe states, he wants to be on the ballot in as many states as possible. Fair enough. But is Cobb simply fabricating his own campaign's motives?
The fact is Cobb may not call what he plans to do a "safe-state" approach, but it is. As his website contends: "[Cobb] has said he will focus his campaign on states neglected by the corporate parties (i.e. 'safe-states'), he has also said that he will visit and campaign in any state that invites him."
Invites him? I wasn't aware presidential candidates had to be invited to a state in order to campaign.
His website declaration continues: "For example, he has pledged to visit the battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania to support their petition drives to put the Green Party candidate on the state ballots."
So Cobb has publicly announced that he will not actively campaign in swing states even if he is on the ballot, although he will work in those states for other Green hopefuls.
"[In swing] states, I'm acknowledging that there is a profound responsibility on the citizens," Cobb told Curwood in the NPR interview, "and they should weigh their options and decide how to spend their very precious vote."
Could you imagine John Kerry or George Bush mutter such feeble words: "Weigh their options?" I am no weathered campaign advisor, but I can imagine that it is a bad idea for any candidate to advise potential voters that they have a viable alternative to your own party's ticket. Shouldn't Cobb be trumping his campaign instead of asking voters to "decide how to spend their very precious vote"? Again, instead of fighting for the Green Party, he has oh-so-slyly admitted he sees quite a difference between Bush and Kerry. On what grounds he hasn't made clear.
As for Cobb's running-mate Pat LaMarche, she is also a bit confused. Following Cobb's announcement that he wanted LaMarche to be his running mate, she said she would not commit to voting for herself and Cobb in November. "If Bush has got 11 percent of the vote in Maine come November 2, I can vote for whoever I want," she told the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. "I love my country. Maybe we should ask them that, because if [Vice President] Dick Cheney loved his country, he wouldn't be voting for himself."
Later, perhaps realizing the stupidity of her remarks, LaMarche posted a press release on the Cobb campaign website. "I am honored to be the Green Party vice presidential candidate running with David Cobb," she lamented. "I want to reassure all members of the Green Party that, on November 2nd, I will be voting Cobb/LaMarche."
Glad we got that cleared up. It's too late, however. The cat is out of the bag. LaMarche, like Cobb, believes Kerry offers a stark alternative to George Bush's band of neocons. If some progressives fel that Kerry does, fine, but Greens shouldn't be the ones sparking that debate.
With all this it is clear that the Green Party may as well drop out of the presidential race. What's the point of running? If Cobb is attempting to build a party (as his defenders claim) grounded on the premise that Democrats offer a significant alternative to Republicans --there is little need for a Green Party to even exist. Just join progressive Democrats who are attempting to change the centrist tides from within the establishment. That seems to be working pretty well. Just ask Dennis Kucinich.
Joshua Frank, a contributor to CounterPunch's forthcoming book, A Dime's Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, is putting the finishing touches on Left Out: How Liberals did Bush's Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.