POLITICS MARCH 6, 2012
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum aren’t the only ones facing voters this Super Tuesday. Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich is one of eleven incumbents in Congress who will be fighting to keep their seats as a result of redistricting. Current polls suggest that Kucinich will lose to fellow Democratic Congressman Marcy Kaptur. But if today marks the end of Kucinich’s political career, no one can claim it was a boring ride. From quixotic Presidential runs, to UFO sightings, to impeachment proceedings upon impeachment proceedings, TNR takes a look back:
Presidential ambitions (2004 and 2008)
Kucinich rose to national prominence after two consecutive presidential campaigns. In 2004, he ran for the Democrat nomination on a platform of troop withdrawal from the War in Iraq and universal healthcare. But Kucinich didn't get above single-digit support in most of the primary races. Despite the big losses, Kucinich campaigned until the very end, endorsing Senator John Kerry just days before the Democratic Convention.
In 2008, Kucinich tried again for the presidency—on a similar anti-war platform—but he fared even worse than he did in 2004. The Ohio Democrat wasn’t even included in many debates because of his dismal showing in Iowa and dropped out of the race in late January.
Support for Assad (June 2011)
Kucinich raised the ire of Republicans, Democrats, and anyone who opposes brutal dictators when he flew to Syria last summer to meet with Bashar al-Assad. Syria’s state media duly quoted Kucinich saying “President al-Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians.” The Congressman later said this was a “mistranslation”, though he hasn’t yet thought it necessary to apologize for supporting Bashar’s regime.
Impeachment of Dick Cheney (April 2007)
Kucinich twice introduced an impeachment resolution against Dick Cheney, charging the then-V.P. with deceiving the American people about WMD in Iraq, lying about Iraq’s relationship with al Qaeda, and unjustly threatening Iran. Both times, however, the bill failed to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee.
Impeachment of George W. Bush (June 2008)
A year after attempting to impeach the Vice President, Kucinich decided to go after bigger game by introducing a resolution to oust George W. Bush. The senator cited misleading the country into war with Iraq and violating international laws as impetus for impeachment, but also noted global warming, Medicare, and hurricane Katrina as contributing factors. Again, the effort was unsuccessful, and Bush served out his term.
Impeachment of President Obama (March 2011)
Still not bored with impeachment proceedings, Kucinich last March decided to target President Obama, claiming that his decision to set up a no-fly zone in Libya without checking in with Congress might be an “impeachable offense.” This time, perhaps in anticipation of being ignored yet again, the Congressman didn’t even bother introducing a resolution.
UFO sighting (October 2007)
During a 2007 Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia, Kucinich was asked about his reported UFO sighting. “It was an unidentified flying object, OK? It’s, like, it’s unidentified,” he said. “I saw something.” This was immediately identified as a political liability, but Kucinich burnished his truth-telling bonafides by refusing to back down—though he did try to tie it to a partisan quip, saying, “You have to keep in mind that more—that Jimmy Carter saw a UFO and also that more people in this country have seen UFOs than I think approve of George Bush’s presidency.”
The Olive Saga (January 2011)
Kucinich has been a stalwart defender of justice—at least when it comes to his own dental work. The Ohio Democrat filed a legal complaint in 2011 saying that a sandwich wrap he purchased in a Capitol Hill cafeteria unknowingly contained an unpitted olive, which allegedly caused extensive injuries to Kucinich’s mouth and teeth. He sought $150,000 in damages and ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount.
Simon Meiners, Nick Robins-Early, Perry Stein, and Eric Wen are interns at The New Republic.