Joe the Optimist
For Biden, hope springs eternal.
Updated Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007, at 10:45 AM
Fendig recently sold his tour company in Georgia to fund his campaign, but it was his business that inspired him to run in the first place. He said his platform consists of policies the "American people" want. Of course, most of those Americans are his conservative tour clientele.
Fendig is not ashamed to tell you that he thinks the constitution ought to be changed. First up, the Fair Tax, which would repeal the 16th amendment that allows the government to collect an income tax. Next, he wants to solve the immigration problem by scrapping pieces of the 14th Amendment. Under the Fendig administration, babies born in the United States would no longer be automatic U.S. citizens. Their parents would have to be citizens, as well. Unclear on whether America would make it a habit of deporting children before they leave the hospital. Oh, and don't forget to tack on a gay marriage amendment while you're at it. (Fendig said homosexuality is a lifestyle choice America cannot endorse but should protect.)
Constitutional changes aside, Fendig is making one novel recommendation: He wants to impose term limits on congressmen so that the legislative branch has a "rotation of fresh ideas and energy."
Fendig, though, has more pressing concerns—like getting people to take him seriously. When Fendig delivered his official announcement speech at a county meeting, the video shows that the woman sitting behind him couldn't help but let loose a laugh.
All aboard: The Republican presidential candidates may have found the perfect enemy: the Law of the Sea Treaty. The treaty, a U.N. convention ratified by 150 countries in 1994 but not by the United States, sets rules for navigating international waters, governs economic activity therein, and also establishes certain environmental standards. And, if you ask the GOP candidates, it must be stopped.
Mike Huckabee toldSlate's John Dickerson that the Law of the Sea has "damaging and dangerous implications for our national sovereignty." Fred Thompson said earlier this week that the law "gives a U.N.-affiliated organization far too much authority over U.S. interests." John McCain and Duncan Hunter have spoken out against the treaty as well.
The candidates know they can get mileage out of the treaty. For one thing, it just sounds silly. Who wants to submit to something called the Law of the Sea Treaty? If you violate it, do they make you walk the plank? (Also note the acronym: LOST.)
But more to the point, it gives them an opportunity to rail against international law. Ronald Reagan rejected the treaty in 1982 because of a provision about mineral mining, but since then the United States has followed the treaty in practice (minus the mining part). President Clinton signed it, but the Republican Congress didn't pass it. President Bush currently supports it, as do the U.S. Navy and the oil industry. (It gives the United States a seat at the table on issues like the Arctic's oil resources, which has enjoyed a resurgence ever since Russia planted its flag there.) In other words, there's very little reason for a Republican not to support the treaty, except to show his general opposition to international law.
And that's just what the GOP candidates want. For them, opposing the Law of the Sea isn't a practical matter. It's ideological. It's about making clear that no one else tells us what to do. Even if they did support it, who wants to be the one guy explaining the intricacies of the 200-page Law of the Sea at the next debate? No, better to make vague noises about national sovereignty, invoke Ronald Reagan once or twice, and be done with it.
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Photographs of: Cap Fendig courtesy Cap Fendig; screenshot of The Huffington Post.