Sunday, February 03, 2008


I don't like talking too much about who I intend(ed) to vote for in the Super Tuesday primary in Arizona. It doesn't really matter what I think about a candidate. It matters what you think when you are choosing. And if we get beholden too much to one candidate, we have a tendency to see all the faults in the other candidates and none in our own. And that's not an objective way to decide who'll be your president.

Since the candidate I was leaning toward just dropped out, I figure it's safe to talk about him a bit. Marc Cooper on the Huffington Post sums up my feelings pretty good:

John Edwards exits the presidential race having done the right thing -- the right thing in having run the way he did and the right thing in leaving when he does.

The Democratic race has been, for better or for worse, a two candidate race since New Hampshire primarily because the voters so deemed it. As we go into Tsunami Tuesday, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are locked in a death struggle to redefine the past and the future, respectively, of American politics and the debilitated Edwards would enter the fray only as unpredictable wild card -- if not a spoiler.

His decision to exit comes, therefore, at the precise moment that demands absolute clarity among Democratic voters. The stakes are stark and so must be the choices. Kudos to Edwards for getting out of the way as that moment arrives.

Kudos also to Jon Edwards for the worthy campaign he ran and for the positive effect it had on all the other campaigns. We can speculate all we want -- and really to no end -- how and why the multi-millionaire one-time moderate Southern Democrat somehow transformed himself into a firebrand populist. But examining motivation in politics is usually a pretty worthless exercise.

More importantly, Edwards' boldly stated and sharply argued positions helped drive and shape the entire Democratic presidential race, exercising a significant gravitational pull on all of the campaigns. It was crucial that for a solid year Edwards was up there unabashedly apologizing for his vote to authorize the war in Iraq, that he was the first -- and very early -- to put forward a comprehensive health care program, that from the presidential stump he raised the profile and celebrated the role of organized labor, that he fearlessly and more relentlessly than any other major presidential candidate in recent history denounced the corporate stranglehold on both our economic and political life. Most importantly, Edwards showed no hesitation in highlighting the otherwise unspeakable in American politics -- the forgotten poor.

The positions taken by Edwards forced all of the candidates to at least recognize these issues and better address them and for that he deserves a special place in the history of the already remarkable Campaign 08.

As to what effect his exit will have is anybody's guess -- at least until next Tuesday. The Conventional Wisdom is that Edwards staying in would have siphoned off white voters from Clinton and would have helped Obama -- that dropping out now indirectly aids Hilary.

This could be the case, but frankly I doubt it. The pollsters have gotten much of this contest wrong and this perhaps is one more stumble. I have no numbers, no surveys no stats to prove my hunch. I only have my experience as a reporter attending myriad Edwards rallies and events starting back more than a year again. And all I can say is that I don't have the impression that these voters somehow belong to Clinton as a second choice. The message of promise change, of a change-over of a historic transition in American politics as now embodied in Obama resonates much deeper among them then the conventional frame of the Clinton campaign.

Nor do I believe that there is much goodwill inside the Edwards campaign to give any support to Clinton. As I write this, I hear Edwards' top rural advisor, Dave "Mudcat" Saunders saying on MSNBC: "I will do everything in my power so he doesn't endorse Hillary Clinton."

John Edwards leave the race in the same noble posture with which he entered it thirteen months ago.

I was an Edwards guy. As a CNN commentator indecorously mentioned, he was the adult in the race. That's a bit harsh, but Edwards did bring some civility. But with him gone, I believe we still have two candidates that would both bring America to a better place.

So, where does that leave me? I'm not the Hillary-hater that an alarming amount of Dem bloggers seem to be. The virtriole aimed at her by those in her own party is approaching Bush level. It's actually funny to me that the apparent leading Democrat is not supported by the Democratic establishment and the apparent leading Republican (McCain) is not supported by his establishment either. Maybe that's a good thing. The days of king-making by the outgoing administrations may be over.

That being said, pollsters and pundits that think the majority of Edwards voters have Hillary as their 2nd choice are also off the mark. Those that have supported Edwards are generally looking for some kind of change. And Hillary doesn't exactly represent that. It's sad, but I'm sure most of the pollsters think what they do because they are assuming racist tendencies for southern democrats. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm a little more optimistic about most democrats. Iowa is nothing but church-going, whitebread America (I should know) and they voted for Obama.

I've pretty much made my decision for Tuesday and I won't bore you with it. But if you vote on Tuesday, objectively look at the candidates (Dem or Repub) regardless of who you have been supporting before and then make your decision.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I really do like Edwards. I think his message is too complicated for single-issue voters to grasp. It's sad too, but I think a lot of people are convinced by propoganda or a less-than-firm grasp of reality to vote against their own best economic interests.

A friend was telling me that in 2004 he was in Michigan picking up a piece of furniture and stopped in a little family restaurant to grab a bite and there was a guy celebrating his 30th birthday with his family saying how the steak cost more than he made in a day and that he'd never be able to afford to eat steak in a restaurant. Then went outside to his truck that had a Bush/Cheney 04 bumper sticker... He's the kind of guy Edwards SHOULD resonate with.

Poverty relief isn't as gut-renching and emotionally charged for most people as guns, abortion, and religious mumbojumbo.