The Fringe, Part 7

This is the seventh entry in “The Fringe,” a periodic look at the lesser-known candidates for president. Read the archives here .

Don’t tell anybody, but John Blyth wants to become president so he can put himself out of business. Blyth, an independent candidate from Illinois, wants to make government-run health care mandatory for everybody in the country. He also owns a small insurance company. So, no privatized insurance, no business for him.

As noble as that may be, when I asked Blyth for more details about his health plan he said he couldn’t tell me anything further because he thinks the mainstream candidates have been spying on his Web site and swiping his policy initiatives, Bill Belichick style.

But a look at his site makes those claims hard to believe. On many issues, Blyth hasn’t made up his mind yet. On his “agenda” page , he writes in response to immigration, “When will congress act?” For gun control, he says, “In this country, what?” Gay marriage: “Non Issue, get busy congress.” [sic] I didn’t hear anything that sounded like that on Tuesday night.

Blyth says he deliberately kept his policy positions short on his Web site, so it would be a quick read. Perhaps, but it also makes him look rusty and unprepared. During our conversation, he said he wanted to send our troops to Africa to help fight genocide but couldn’t pinpoint Sudan: “Where’s all the genocide at down there? I forget the country.”

Throughout the conversation, Blyth had few specifics whenever I asked for more information. Over and over again, he claimed he would let Congress decide policy a far cry from the Bush administration as long as they started acting more like federalists. “If you leave it up to the 50 states, you’ve got 50 different ways and you’ve got hodgepodge,” he told me. To be fair, he does have some specifics. He knows he wants to begin a 15-month withdrawal from Iraq immediately, stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and veto any pork-barrel spending.

Blyth has time to refine these policy positions. Because he’s running as an independent, voters won’t see him on the ballot until November of 2008. That leaves ample time to look up Sudan on a map.