Friday, July 14, 2006

Glenn links to a good interview with John Edwards on poverty and its societal consequences.

Which leads to an interesting hypothesis: Americans are less interested generally in specific issues, such as foreign policy, than they are in how government and society is going to make their lives better [or worse]. Thus, one of the reasons the Clinton administrations were so popular was that peoples' lives improved during that eight year period.

We keep hearing that the economy is strong, that the war in Iraq is progressing, but people here at home are worried, incomes don't seem to buy what they used to, gas prices are through the roof, there's a lingering vague apprehension of terrorist activity domestically, and there's no general sense we are moving forward or getting ahead. Republicans used a fear-mongering strategy in 2004 to keep the White House, i.e., we can't trust Kerry or the Democrats, things are too dangerous to make a change, it sends a bad signal to terrorists, etc. My sense is that with the passage of time, the public has realized that we can live our lives, even with the potential for terrorism in the U.S. The restlessness of the public may then be ascribed to dissatisfaction with the government's progress at helping improve peoples' lives.

In that respect, a guy like Edwards, as he would have in 2004, would make a choice candidate for the Democrats. It doesn't help that he's got that certain something that draws people to him. It's that intangible that Kennedy, Clinton, and even Reagan had. He's got positives, where Hillary Clinton or Kerry have negatives.

It is also noteworthy that he is completely off the Republicans' radar screen. I believe that the Republicans have for years been remarkably adroit at pushing to the front in the public eye the candidate they want to run against. Consider McGovern in 1972, Dukakis in 1988 and Kerry in 2004. I think they didn't want to run against Clinton, and did everything possible to deep six his campaign in the primaries, to no avail, based on Clinton's extraordinary campaigning skills and determination to persevere. The fact that nary a word has been said by MSM or Republican punditry about Edwards suggests that they fear his ability to contend strongly with whichever Republican emerges from the pack. That's especially important in the upcoming 2008 cycle, because the Repubs don't have a "Natural" to rely on.

In this respect, I am reminded of Hal Holbrook's great speech from the movie All The President's Men:

Nationwide--my God, they were
frightened of Muskie and look who
got destroyed--they wanted to run
against McGovern, and look who they're
running against. They bugged, they
followed people, false press leaks,
fake letters, they canceled Democratic
campaign rallies, they investigated
Democratic private lives, they planted
spies, stole documents, on and on--
don't tell me you think this was all
the work of little Don Segretti.

To place the analogy in 2004 context, they were frightened of Edwards and look who got destroyed--they wanted to run against Kerry, and look who they're running against. Not to belabor it, but in 1992 context [had it worked out the way they wanted it to]: they were frightened of Clinton and look who got destroyed--they wanted to run against [Tsongas, Jerry Brown, whoever], and look who they're running against. Let's face it: with a lesser campaigner than Clinton, the whole barrage of Gennifer Flowers, draft status, and "I didn't inhale" would have been fatal. For details on the 1992 shennaigans, read Carville and Matalin's All's Fair. Unfortunately, I absolutely believe that the Republican leadership will do almost anything to steer national elections in the direction they favor.

In any event, I don't know if Edwards is considering another run in 2008, but he ought to. If he does, however, he should watch his back, because they'll be comin' for him.


AST said...

You need to get out more. Edwards is a one trick pony, with his "two Americas" speech, which is great for liberals who believe that societal justice is what they stand for. But Edwards is too much of a lightweight to hold up to much of the limelight. As he starts doing interviews, Sunday morning shows, debates, etc, his shallowness becomes clear and even the press start to act skeptical. Dan Quayle is a policy wonk next to Edwards.

I don't know who'll come out of the field, but it won't be anybody they've tried lately.

Anonymous said...

Why should he consider running? What exactly does he bring? Why in world do you think anyone was scared of him? I really dont get it. Ast is correct. He was/is a lightweight.

Mark Tempest said...

Edwards would not have won in North Carolina if he had stayed in the Senate race, and his presidential ticket did not carry NC, his home state. If you can't get the people who know you best to vote for you, it would seem to be a limiting factor for higher office

Not much substance to him.

Anonymous said...

Kerry lost North Carolina (and every other southern state). Edwards was beating Bush in head-to-head polls in North Carolina during the primaries, but Bush was beating Kerry. And polls showed Edwards would have won re-election to the Senate if he'd run. The Republicans were, and still are, worried about Edwards.

Craig said...

I've heard Republican after Republican tell me that had EDWARDS been the nominee instead of Kerry, they would have crossed party lines and voted for Edwards. Why? One of those Republicans: "He represents people like me."

This analysis is dead on.. Rove actually said following the 2004 election that Edwards was the Dem he feared the most. He lucked out and got Kerry. He won't be as lucky in 2008.