Patch makes pitch for Kucinich
NASHUA - Patch Adams, political activist, physician, professional clown personified by Robin Williams in the Hollywood movie bearing his name, creator of the Gesundheit Institute, founder of a free hospital in West Virginia, world traveler, compassionate giver, avid reader and outrageously unfashionable in his mismatched shirt, necktie, jacket and pants, strode into the living room of Tim DesClos and Victoria Tane on Auburn Street Saturday morning to introduce and support Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Like Adams, who has spent 33 years providing free medical care and traveling the world spreading his humor and kindness, the local gathering was anything but conventional. Guests of all ages - children with their parents, older, retired residents and those in between - packed the living room and adjoining dining area to hear the famous doctor and clown introduce his candidate. “In my 58 years, I’ve never worked for a candidate in the fashion I am working for Dennis,” Adams said. A polished silver fork dangled from Adams’ right ear, perhaps a symbolic retort to tradition: For Kucinich is not only the only presidential candidate refusing to accept the silver spoon of corporate donations (confirmed by The Center for Responsive Politics of as of Nov. 18), but may also be one of the only candidates who wasn’t born with one in his mouth. As a child, the Democratic congressman, a former Cleveland mayor, experienced homelessness, he said. The oldest of seven children, he said his parents never owned a home. Furthermore, due to economic hardship, they moved their family 21 times, including residencies in at least two cars during Kucinich’s youth, the candidate said. But Adams’s introduction focused on the intangibles of character - and heart. “There is so much wickedness in the world now,” he quoted from a letter written to him by his friend, the British ethologist Jane Goodall. “We must rise to the challenge and release the power of goodness and love in each of us.” While guests nudged each other and leaned closer around the dining room table laden with trays of orange slices, cheese, crackers, sliced vegetables and other fare, Adams explained why he was supporting Kucinich. Like his silver fork earring, his reasons were simple, but compelling: Kucinich is an optimist who promotes loving. He believes the nation’s purpose is to provide for all of its inhabitants; that medical care should be a right, not a privilege; that the single payer health care system the candidate espouses is a beginning, not an end. After endorsing the idea of a national department of peace - and before the candidate made his quietly dignified entrance into the dining room - Adams dropped one more political firecracker: “Thirty percent of the tax cuts (Congress made) for the wealthy could have fed and provided health care for all people on the planet,” he said. Kucinich lacks Adams’s stage presence. Dressed in a navy blue sweater under a dark suit jacket and wearing dark trousers, he is as slight as Adams is statuesque. His face is earnest, his dark eyes trained like pinpoints aimed at the future. He speaks in long sentences that go on and on, elaborating, substantiating, explaining detail by detail, repeating himself if a second or third person in the crowd asks the same question. But his bottom line is simple: Health care is the No. 1 issue in the presidential race, followed closely by the war in Iraq, corporate monopolies and their “culture of greed,” and the need for fair trade, world cooperation, respect and interdependency. “My candidacy is about truth-telling, not posturing to appear tougher than the other candidates,” he said. He cited the U.S. presence in Iraq as a central issue in his campaign, asserting that the war was wrong, that it was based on “lies” and that the United States has an obligation to turn Iraq over to U.N. peacekeepers. In addition, he said the United States should make reparations to Iraqi families who have lost loved ones during the war and should also help to rebuild the country. “We have a moral obligation. We must reclaim our moral authority,” he said. Partway through the candidate’s talk, an older man in a blue jacket stepped forward into the crowd, saying he was having trouble hearing. A younger, bearded man and the little girl on his lap, stood up, offering the older man their chair. The older man sat, leaned forward and cupped a hand over one ear. “We’re getting locked into a false sense of insecurity,” Kucinich said, criticizing the Bush administration for frightening Americans with terror alerts rather than keeping people secure. Kucinich was on a tight timetable, as was Adams and his traveling companion, performer and teacher Susan Parenti. But he continued answering questions and explaining his platforms, even after his staff began to signal that it was time to eat and run. The candidate politely ignored a cup of something offered with a plastic spoon and continued talking while supporters filled their plates and began pulling out their checkbooks.