Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Radical Dives Into the Fray

I know this is unfashionable, but have I told you that John Edwards is my favorite candidate?

No, no. I am not just getting pissy about the identity politics thing. And yes, I will work for, vote for, the Democratic nominee whatever happens. But I give money to John Edwards. Tonight my friend Linda and I went to a Shoreline event intended to get us all going for the February 5 primary, when Connecticut's puny 23 votes will be added to someone's column. It was a star-studded event as Shoreline political shindigs go, but what really got to me is that after primaries in two *very white* states, with even fewer votes than Connecticut, this town has bought the Hillary-Barack showdown hook, line and sinker and marginalized Edwards.

So your Radical cruised the room, talking to the organizers for each campaign, asking the question: "If your candidate wants our votes in Shoreline, where 75% of us live below the poverty line, why don't they come to Shoreline and speak to us, like John Edwards did?" And this is what I learned:

1. The Clinton organizer said, "Listen, I've been trying to get Hillary to Shoreline. She has lots of great connections here. But it's a hard fact that if I can't guarantee her $250K, she's not coming." Which means it's not about the votes, its about the votes money can buy.

2. The Obama rep: "Connecticut's a small state." Which means he doesn't actually give a crap about our votes, and the Obama campaign knows that we will vote Demo whomever the candidate is, so why bother to talk to us?

On the other hand, a quick stop at Teenie airport as you are zipping between a key Southern state and New Hampshire would have taken what -- two hours?

The truth is, they come here -- to Fairfield County and to West Hartford, to be exact -- to pick up checks and leave. Connecticut has historically been the wealthiest state in the Union, and also has had the greatest disparity between rich and poor. And who are those people? Hedge fund managers, and executives for the arms industry -- Colt, UTI, Electric Boat. You name it, we'll build the machine that will kill it. All those people who are giving you a bloated military budget that is eating the money we could be putting into schools and health care. That is who Barack Obama and HIllary Clinton will owe -- them and Big Pharma, agribusiness, and every other stinking capitalist lobbying group. And frankly, when they agreed today to stop talking about race, I was not reassured. Baby, we need to talk about race in this country -- just not their race(s).

OK, the other thing I learned -- and this is unverified -- is that both the Hillary and the Barack phone bankers are raising the question of John Edwards' depression after his son's accidental death, and asking how he will cope if Elizabeth dies.

So if you want to phone bank for John Edwards from your own home, go to this link and try. Because he is not taking money from the big corporations. Because of all the candidates, he has actually come to Shoreline and talked to us about what it means to live in a town where people are really, really poor. And because he is not taking money from the people who have taken our money.

Thank you. This has been a public service announcement from Planet Radical, and I have endorsed this message.

11 comments:

historiann said...

TR,

I hear you on Edwards--he was my man too, because he is the only candidate to talk about poverty and inequality in a fashion that sounds like he might do something about them. I still also agree with him from a policy perspective. BUT: then Elizabeth made that slyly nasty comment last fall about HRC that she believed that she (Elizbeth--also an attorney) was a much happier person than HRC, and John Edwards himself came out to make the (racist, sexist dogwhisle) claim that he is the only candidate who can win in a general election (presumably because of his whitemanitood). I'm just incredibly reluctant to reward that kind of behavior. I know in the end I'll have to reward the behavior of whichever Democrat successfully slung the most mud, but I've had no problems whatsoever keeping my checkbook closed during the primary season this time around. (Actually, I might be doing the eventual nominee a favor--the vast majority of the candidates I've given money to have tanked! Just ask Howard Dean, John Kerry, and two successive failed candidates who have taken on the wretched Marilyn Musgrave...)

Anonymous said...

Do you think it is not relevant how Edwards might cope with his wife's death, given his past depression?

I despite the remark Edwards made about needing a strong candidate, after Hillary showed some emotion. That was nakedly sexist. How can I vote for someone who does that?

Debrah said...

How John Edwards' campaign went astray

By Graham Marlette : Guest columnist
The Herald-Sun
Jan 16, 2008

The first big mistake John Edwards made in his bid for the White House was to build his own house just outside Chapel Hill off the Old Greensboro Road. Anyone with a computer, and that includes caucus-goers in Iowa and voters in New Hampshire, can Google "John Edwards' home" and view a most unflattering aerial photograph of his 28,000-square-foot mega-mansion. To environmentalists who decry clear-cutting and to all Democrats who object to conspicuous consumption, Edwards' estate, with its massive red clay footprint carved out of a forest, is one huge mistake. The buffer of trees hiding it from the road gives the whole thing an unpleasant aura of secrecy.

John Edwards is not a political novice, having served six years in the U.S. Senate and running for vice president with John Kerry in 2004. He is a bright, attractive attorney, a trial lawyer with the ability to persuade a jury. His wife and partner Elizabeth is an equally intelligent attorney with a compelling personal story. Given this background, the Edwards' myriad mistakes are almost incomprehensible. Another huge blunder was treating caucus-goers in Iowa and voters in New Hampshire like members of a North Carolina jury.

How John Edwards might have won:

Instead of building "the house", what if he had invested a million dollars in renovating and rebuilding substandard houses in Durham with a Jimmy Carter-like Habitat program? That would be seen as actually helping the poor folks his campaign rhetoric claims that he is fighting for.

Like his two main opponents, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Edwards needed to compensate for perceived weaknesses in his candidacy. For instance, Senator Clinton was seen as cold and unfeeling. At a recent press conference she teared up and demonstrated a remarkably sincere show of emotion which likely led to her huge upset win in New Hampshire. Senator Obama was seen as inexperienced and his campaign has set about the task of fleshing out his resume with continued success. Inexplicably, Edwards became angry and insulting in more recent debates with the opposition. When asked by a reporter in an interview if he had ever teared up, he stared into space for a time, then curtly responded, "no". He should have continued in his role of "Mr. Nice Guy" and let the world know that he is capable of expressing genuine emotions.

"Fighting for the middle class" dictates that the candidate never spend $400 for a haircut. The wise strategy is to be seen in a small town barber shop exchanging pleasantries with the locals and, while this may seem trivial, have the hair parted down the middle, not blow-dried and sprayed from left to right. Remember the "Breck girl" moniker from 2004?

Would any of this actually have secured the nomination for John Edwards? Given the strength of the opposition, perhaps not. But it would have given him something he now does not have: a future in presidential politics.

The writer has been a real estate broker in Durham since 1985.

Anonymous said...

I am a conservative, but I actually like John Edwards and I think he has the best chance to win in November. I've joked that Karl Rove is secretly funding the Hillary and Barack campaigns. (And perhaps Terry McAullife is funding the Huckabee one.)

What's more interesting to me though is something you touched on: Connecticut is the richest state in the union (highest per capita income) and yet it is a sure-bet for the Democrats. I am a student of the 2000 election, which was the closest election since 1916 (and is its bizarre twin). After that election I recall a newspaper story where it was pointed out that Connecticut, the richest state, and Oklahoma, the poorest -- and both with similar sized populations -- had voted in diametrically opposite directions. In Connecticut, Gore beat Bush 56-38% (with Nader taking 4% away from Gore); in Oklahoma, Bush beat Gore 60-38% (no Nader on the ballot).

I also looked at the richest counties in America. I think I went through 25 before I found one that Bush won (all I recall is that it was outside Nashville) and that Gore had won like 90 of the richest 100 counties. My point is that this is exactly the opposite of what one might predict if one thinks of the GOP as the party of the rich and the Democrats as the party of the poor.

Anyway, to return to today, I think the Democrats are benefited by a split in the Republican party that no candidate can seem to bridge (unless Thompson makes a comeback, perhaps). As you know, the GOP is a coalition of economic, social, and foreign policy conservatives. I cannot recall an election where we had such clear spokesmen for each of these GOP blocs -- Romney for the eco-cons, Huckabee for the soc-cons, and McCain (and Guiliani) for the for-cons. Often, these candidates are not very conservative at all outside of their special interest; for instance, McCain shores up the Right on foreign policy, but he was opposed to Bush's tax cuts, favored illegal alien amnesty, promoted such liberal causes as campaign finance reform (which largely prevents anyone but rich people from running), and was a member of the "Gang of 14" moderate Senators who brokered a deal on judicial filibusters.

My point being: I expect Romney will get the nomination, but there will be little enthusiasm for him among the social and foreign policy conservatives. In such a situation, even Hillary (but not Barack) might win.

Anonymous said...

A 28,000 foot square mansion?!!! How could anyone vote for this man? He might talk poverty, but he doesn't spend to end it. It's really 28,000 square feet? Does it house a small shopping mall or what?!!

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous at 5:12 PM from the anonymous at 4:32 PM:

Gee, if wasted wealth is a reason not to vote for someone, how did anyone vote for Kerry? According to CNN, in 2003, Kerry was the richest man in the U.S. Senate. In fact, his net worth was estimated at more than $163 million (against Edwards' $13 million)! You know the difference that people like me see? Kerry married his money; Edwards worked for it.

We don't begrudge Edwards his nice big house a bit. In fact, since he didn't build it himself, it's safe to say that Edwards' house put a lot of food on the tables of carpenters, bricklayers, painters ... in other words, real working people.

I think I'm starting to understand why Democrats have lost the votes of so many of those types of workers.

Anonymous said...

my completely unscientific poll of internet bloggers (including feminists of color) found that most were Edward supporters until this lastest "dust up" between Clinton and Obama. I also think that the fact he can get 1/3 of the votes when he gets minimal media coverage and very few debate questions is a sign that my "poll" could be backed up with science. My point . . . thanks for pointing to Edwards this late in the game. So few of us have had the guts to do so lately and I think it is a shame.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to pass this along from Nevada's non-partisan page. They asked all the candidates to fill out the same questions and then placed them side by side online. The questions are broken into thematic sections accessed through the blue box at the top and by party. As you can see, Edwards was the only one who bothered to answer the questions thoroughly on the Deomcrats side. Here is the link: http://www.vote-nv.org/Issue.aspx?Issue=ALLPersonal&Office=USPresident&Election=20080119BNV000000NVD

Anonymous said...

link again:
http://www.vote-nv.org/Issue.aspx?Issue
=ALLPersonal&Office=USPresident&Election=
20080119BNV000000NVD

use the whole thing as one line (blogger won't let me paste it whole into the comments for some reason.)

Anonymous said...

It's all getting rather unsavoury. Had never heard of the concept of dogpolitics before 2008, but i'll never forget it now, unfortunately.

John Edwards the only viable dem candidate? Nudge nudge, wink wink.

BearLeft said...

Ironically, I discovered both your blog and your support for Edwards (a support I've shared) the very day that he drops out of the race.