This idea did not begin with me; I got it from Molly Ivins, in her open letter to Dear Desperate Democrats, posted on Common Dreams. I quote it all below to make sure you read it:
“Here’s what we do. We run Bill Moyers for president. I am serious as a stroke about this. It’s simple, cheap, and effective, and it will move the entire spectrum of political discussion in this country. Moyers is the only public figure who can take the entire discussion and shove it toward moral clarity just by being there.
The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy.
Bill Moyers has been grappling with how to fit moral issues to political issues ever since he left Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and went to work for Lyndon Johnson in the teeth of the Vietnam War. Moyers worked for years in television, seriously addressing the most difficult issues of our day. He has studied all different kinds of religions and different approaches to spirituality. He’s no Holy Joe, but he is a serious man. He opens minds—he doesn’t scare people. He includes people in, not out. And he sees through the dark search for a temporary political advantage to the clear ground of the Founders. He listens and he respects others.
Do I think Bill Moyers can win the presidency? No, that seems like a very long shot to me. The nomination? No, that seems like a very long shot to me.
Then why run him? Think, imagine, if seven or eight other Democratic candidates, all beautifully coiffed and triangulated and carefully coached to say nothing that will offend anyone, stand on stage with Bill Moyers in front of cameras for a national debate … what would happen? Bill Moyers would win, would walk away with it, just because he doesn’t triangulate or calculate or trim or try to straddle the issues. Bill Moyers doesn’t have to endorse a constitutional amendment against flag burning or whatever wedge issue du jour Republicans have come up with. He is not afraid of being called “unpatriotic.” And besides, he is a wise and a kind man who knows how to talk on TV.
It won’t take much money—file for him in a couple of early primaries and just get him into the debates. Think about the potential Democratic candidates. Every single one of them needs spine, needs political courage. What Moyers can do is not only show them what it looks like and indeed what it is, but also how people respond to it. I’m damned if I want to go through another presidential primary with everyone trying to figure out who has the best chance to win instead of who’s right. I want to vote for somebody who’s good and brave and who should win.
One time in the Johnson years, LBJ called on Moyers to say the blessing at a dinner. “Speak up, Bill,” Lyndon roared. “I can’t hear you.” Moyers replied, “I wasn’t speaking to you, sir.” That would be the point of a run by Moyers: He doesn’t change to whom he is speaking just because some president is yelling at him.
To let Moyers know what you think of this idea, write him at P.O. Box 309, Bernardsville, NJ 07924.
“But why limit this quest?
Why ask Democratic primary voters to send a message when they can send the best man into the November competition and, if the stars align correctly, perhaps even to the White House?
With all due regard to one of the finest journalists and finest Americans I know, I respectfully disagree with Molly Ivins — not on the merits of a Moyers candidacy, but on the potential.
I’m not suggesting that Bill Moyers — with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working in recent years on media reform issues — is a sure bet to win the Democratic nomination or the presidency in 2008. I’m not even suggesting that he would be a good bet. But the politics of 2008 are already so muddled, so quirky and so potentially volatile that I believe — as someone who has covered my share of presidential campaigns — that Moyers could be a contender.
Moyers would enter the 2008 race with far more practical political experience than Dwight Eisenhower had in 1952, far more national name recognition than Jimmy Carter had in 1976 and far more to offer the country than most of our recent chief executives.
Against the candidates who are lining up for the 2008 contest, Bill Moyers and his supporters would not need to make any excuses.
After all, the supposed Democratic frontrunner is a former First Lady who ran her first election campaign just six years ago. One of the leading Republican contenders is a guy whose main claim to fame is that he did a good job of running the Olympics in Salt Lake City, while another is still best known as the son of a famous football coach. And the strongest Republican prospect, John McCain, is actually more popular with Democrats than with his own partisans.
Consider the fact that a professional body builder is the governor of the largest state in the union, and that the list of serious contenders for seats in Congress and for governorships this year is packed with retired athletes, former television anchorpersons and bored millionaires, and it simply is not that big a stretch to suggest that someone with the government and private-sector experience, the national recognition and the broad respect that Bill Moyers has attained across five decades of public life could not make a serious run for the presidency.
So, Molly, I’ll see your suggestion of Bill Moyers, and up the ante to suggest that Moyers really could be a contender.
What would happen if all of us literate liberals here in the blogosphere and elsewhere used the Net to rally support for Moyers.