Sunday, 27 January 2008

Why I like John Edwards

There are several good reasons for liking John Edwards, and hoping he wins the Democrat nomination. The most pressing reason is Hillary Clinton. If she won the nomination, it would be a disaster for the Democrats. They would almost certainly be defeated. Clinton is a sitting duck for rightwing dirty tricks.

To win the election, the Republicans only need to replay that footage of Clinton blubbering in New Hampshire, with a voiceover to the effect of "When the going gets tough, the tough get ... flowing." It might have served her well in New Hampshire, but it will come back to haunt her. With Cryin' Clinton representing the Democrats, the Republicans can look forward to an easy victory. Even if their candidate is Ron Paul, who I always think is RuPaul, the transvestite.

And to be honest, Clinton comes across as someone interested in two things - being president, and being the first female president. It's about her, not about her burning need to guide her country. She's too airbrushed, image conscious and lacks sincerity. Hell, even when she breaks down in tears, it comes across as phoney.

But I do like Edwards. Perhaps it is my Quixotic streak, since he seems doomed to finish a respectable third. Perhaps it is because he seems a bit more grown up than the other candidates - yes, I know that's a carefully cultivated image, but it also seems genuine - and I like what he says about the economy and social issues.

The problem is, of course, that he's in a race which features two tother candidates who are so successfully controlling pblic attention that even when he registers with voters, it is usually in reaction to one or other of the candidates.

This (1), by Eugene Robinson, sums it up pretty well:

Edwards has a coherent, consistent message and is running a top-shelf campaign. He has beaten his rivals to the punch on several issues, and he's the most skilled debater of the bunch. The problem is that Clinton and Obama aren't candidates so much as phenomena. They take up so much space that it's impossible to see the other guy.

Such is politics. But every time I go to an Edwards rally, I come away feeling disheartened -- not for Edwards, but for the people whose disappointment and disaffection he captures in his cadenced rhetoric about taking back the country from "special interests" holding it for ransom. Dismissing him as a born-again "populist" ignores the fact that Edwards has touched a nerve, especially in small towns and rural areas where, for the unskilled or the unlucky, "the economy" basically means Wal-Mart.

"You have been ignored too long," Edwards told the people in Lancaster. And he's right.

In campaign appearances and television ads, Edwards cites an aging CNN poll (it was published Dec. 11) showing that he would defeat any of the top four Republican opponents in the fall. Maybe, but how does he get to the fall? Given the power of the Obama and Clinton juggernauts, how does he even stick around long enough to be there if they falter?

For a while, it looked as if his strategy was to team up with Obama to knock Clinton off her stride. But in the last debate, he joined Clinton against Obama -- and then met privately with Clinton afterwards.

I asked him what they had discussed. "We talked about how the media isn't giving me enough coverage," he said with a smile. (2)

Note his "You have been ignored too long" comment. Who says American's can't do irony?

Great bloke. Can he be president? Only if we're very lucky.

1 - "Running Third, Edwards Still Dazzles," by Eugene Robinson, posted on Real Clear Politics website, 26th of January, 2007. (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/01/edwards_makes_his_last_stand.html)
2 - ibid.

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