Tag Archives: John Edwards

Was John Edwards Serious about Poverty or Rielle Hunter?

For many of us on the left side of the progressive wing of the democratic party, it was refreshing as hell to watch John Edwards pick up the gauntlet for “class” issues back in ’07. Edwards was the first mainstream candidate in a long time to speak the “C” word, that is, about class and poverty in America. Not since 1968 and ’72 had a serious candidate for president spoken on behalf of and for poor people in America. The Two America’s theme was spot on; it took Michael Harrington’s “the Other America” classic and made it relevant for the 21st century.

Now, I’m reading that Edwards may merely have been under the influence of Rielle Hunter, a Werner Ehrhard new age groupie helping this ’04 Veep wannabe to re-invent himself, and perhaps, disturbingly, also find his real self.

That’s what her webisodes were all about, getting America to learn about the real John Edwards, as if for the past several years, we had been seeing a fake john edwards (and perhaps we were), and also, it seems, the webisodes had a therapeutic effect on the candidate himself,  even helping him at 50+ years to find himself.

That’s my biggest disappointment regarding the Edwards affair. I don’t care who he shtups. none of my business. What is my business however, is the political and philosophical grounding for John Edwards’ political resurgence as a progressive lefty, someone who indeed successfully shifted the primary campaign leftward, and is probably responsible for Hillary Clinton herself morphing into a economic populist during the latter stages of the primary battle.  This guy had the potential to influence the debate in a positive direction for the next decade.

Here’s my question:   Was Edwards under the influence of careful reflection, reading and observation of the american condition, or, was this self admitted narcissist on a middle age joy-ride into eastern philosophy and idealism.

During the primary campaign I thought Edwards had been influenced by the former; with this week’s revelations, it appears i was wrong.

Case and point.  If Edwards were seriously committed to his political agenda, he would have been on air talking about his new poverty reduction movement called Half in Ten,” cutting poverty by 50 in ten years, rather than talking about his own narcissism and hubris.  “Half in ten” has just been launched and yet, there is almost nothing about it in the press.  Yes, this is a tricky moment for Edwards. Perhaps he should have postponed Half in Ten’s launch.  It is also the press’ fault. they would prefer to cover Edwards’ love life than a serious and vexing policy field.  

The point is, were Edwards the real deal, his anti poverty campaign and not his love child would be getting his attention. 

Perhaps Edwards’ anti-poverty efforts were more  about advancing his political career all along. just another cynical poll.   Given the influence Rielle Hunter apparently has had over Edwards, it appears as if “Half in Ten” is more a Werner Erhardt’s flaky 1980’s rip off, than any attempt to alter the political condition for millions of impoverished Americans.  Makes me question my own support for this guy.

This disappoints me most.


Barack Obama’s first Lincolnesque Challenge

With HIllary Clinton almost gone but not forgotten (almost), Obama’s next task is to forge a consensus among his former rival’s staunchest believers and create unity along some bloody ruptures in the democratic party. 

Faced with his first real challenge as presumptive nominee, Obama, it seems, is pulling a page from Lincoln’s notebook.  He recognizes the ferocity of the Hillaryite feelings against him.   He is of strong enuf character and moral fiber as to reach out to former rivals– like Hillary– and promise to place them in a new administration.

Politico is reporting that Obama is considering Edwards as AG, Biden as Secretary of State and Hillary Clinton as Scry HHS, if only she gracefully withdraws some time over the next couple days, hopefully even this evening in New York.

There is no love lost between Barack and Hillary.   I agree with those who suggest that Hillary and Bill blame Obama for having stymied Hillary’s ascension to the nomination/presidency, and they harbor no great desire for Obama’s success this fall.

I also believe that having Hillary as VEEP would potentially create a strong Bill/ Hillary sponsored anti-obama base inside the White House, thus endeavoring to sabotage his every move.

By placing Hillary in a cabinet post, and ceding control over health care, however,  Obama plays a brilliant game of being able to take credit for the potential success of health care reform, or placing the blame for failure once again on Hillary’s shoulders (would be twice bitten on health care), killing any chances at all for her future presidential ambitions.  Really is a beautiful move.

Hillary’s role in an Obama Administration would provide a 2009 version of Lincoln having Edwin Stanton as his Secretary of War.  Stanton was highly regarded, nationally known politician with presidential ambition. The Obama-Clinton relationship would start off really rocky but likely to evolve into a real partnership.  Stanton disdained LIncoln and was humiliated at having lost to him.  He came into the Lincoln administration belitting Lincoln, referring to him as “that original gorilla.”  

For his part, Lincoln valued Stanton’s tenacity and organizational abilities.

By the end of Lincoln’s presidency, however, Stanton had proved to be an extremely successful Secry of War, and one of Lincoln’s most loyal if not trusted lieutenants.  



Edwards Endorsement Perfectly Timed

I was more than a bit surprised that the John Edwards endorsement of barack Obama is getting the above the fold attention it is receiving this morning.  Quite frankly as Edwards himself suggested last week, I thought the endorsement would be treated as irrelevant.  I think It shows a number of things:

1) Edwards is still a player, as his 7% or so in WV also suggests.

2) Edwards was the real populist in the race, as opposed to Clinton’s more recent and cynical and exploitive approach.  The endorsement won’t hurt with the white working class WV demographic that folks seem concerned about

3) Edwards new anti-poverty initiative announced on Tuesday now might well stand some chance of cutting thru some of the policy and bureaucratic thicket inside the beltway.  As part of an Obama Presidency, this initiative could bring about  21st century version of LBJ’s War on Poverty.

4) As for timing, couldn’t be shrewder political move than timing the endorsement speech to coincide with start of the nightly news cycle. Beautiful. cudos to Obama team. Shows that Obama’s team as smart as some suggest.

5) Replaced Clinton 40 point win as news headline.  This is telling for the following reason: the msm could have decided otherwise. Obviously, they have made the decision that the Hillary candidacy is finally old news. Time to move on.

I was an Edwards supporter and am really pleased to see how he and Obama moved down the chess board on this one.

Nice going!

Democrats out-foxing selves on Fox “News”

When a propaganda machine does little but spew misinformation about the political and social worlds, it poses a danger to democratic thinking. If democracy is something that is important to you, it makes sense that you would shun this propaganda machine or try to discredit it.

Other than Rush Limbaugh, there is probably no vestige of the far right propaganda machine as effective as Fox News. Since Fox gives very little information other than propaganda– white house and RNC talking points– it is vexing to see Obama, Clinton and now Howard Dean go on Fox Noise, and play it straight, pretending it is a real news show. They have either drank the coolaid or are patronizing the Fox viewership. either way, they are ignoring their own netroots, and it is a waste of time.

From Rupert Murdoch and News Corps to Roger Ailes, no other television network has done more damage to the news business than Fox, by framing far right ideas as “fair and balanced.” It was the propaganda machine for newt gingrich during the mid 90s and for richard mellon scaife and the clinton impeachment during the latter 90s, and has trumpeted only the pentagon view on Iraq.

Now that the Bush dynasty finally appears to be on its last legs, and the democratic opposition is in a position of strength, common sense suggests it finally ought to be exposing Fox for the propaganda machine it is. That’s why the Clinton, Obama ad Dean appearances are so confounding. John Edwards sensed this a year ago and led the democratic candidate boycott of the network. with him out of the race, and with clinton and obama kicking and clawing to the nomination, the democrats have lost their focus on the network that wants nothing more than to diminish their credibility in the eyes of its viewers.

To paraphrase a golden oldie Fox fav: “just say no to Fox”

I Know Populists: Hillary is no Populist

Hillary a populist? Won’t float.

I went to school in Madison, Wisconsin. I know progressive populists. Hillary is no progressive populist.

Clinton’s latest pre-March 4 strategy has her tacking to the left of Obama with a populist progressive message that might well resonate in Ohio. And she is hitting Obama with an “all hat/no cattle” version of Mondale’s 1984 “where’s the beef” taunt of Gary Hart to appeal to the longhorns in Texas.

Neither strategy is likely to be effective overall. Here’e why. The populist pitch is a too obvious play for an Edwards endorsement and rust belt Ohio votes. It runs afoul of the many links out there to Hillary’s corporate donors– as compared to Obama– in oil, pharmaceutical, and credit card industries. She will likely drop this pitch like a lead ballon should Edwards endorse Barack. She’ll certainly drop it should she win Ohio and Texas and suddenly become viable again.

On a related front, Hillary’s populist appeal is being undercut by Marc Penn’s insistance that there is no difference between super and elected delegates. It is difficult for a populist to credibly pin her hopes for the nomination on unelected delegates. And pushing to change rules she had agreed on in Florida and Michigan doesn’t help her to counter questions about her commitment to electoral fairness.

I also think it is difficult for a populist Clinton campaign to defend its absence a couple evenings ago from the telecom immunity vote in the Senate. Hillary was in DC at the time; perhaps she just didn’t want to offend her populist telecom donors?

Similarly difficult to attach an ‘all hat-no cattle’ Bush reference, on the intellectual heavyweight Obama. Any implict comparison between Obama and Bush works to Obama’s favor, even in Texas. Bush has done more to dumb-down America’s view of Texans than anyone since Yosemite Sam. Obama should invite the comparison and then poetically swat it away.

Hillary is not even the populist within her family. Bill is the Clinton populist. Bill’s “bubba factor” back in ’92 appealed to crossover voters, who happen to be voting now for Obama.

Post Edwards Candidacy

In the Shadow of Al Gore: John Edwards’ Post Political Future
Robert Koulish

On December 10, 2007, Al Gore told his Nobel audience in Oslo, “Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken – if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious if painful gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose.”

As John Edwards reads his political obituary this week, he may agree it premature if not harsh and mistaken.

Here are the two lessons that Edwards should take from Al Gore. 1) Public life need not end with losing the presidency; 2) Electoral politics may actually impede achieving your purpose.

Like Gore, Edwards has a purpose he feels to his core. Like Gore, Edwards has been unable to achieve his purpose as a legislator or presidential candidate, and like Gore, he could be heard saying something like Gore said in Oslo, “But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.”

Gore’s purpose of course is global warming and his current success is the result not only of being able to devote time and energy, but also because his cause has become a cultural phenomenon. The ‘green’ phenomenon transcends politics to become part of popular culture. College campuses now embrace it in their curriculum and institutional missions. Cities embrace it in terms of economic and energy stimulus plans. Going green is a political imperative in large part because young people of all political stripes do not pollute as a matter of course, and are committed to direct their considerable spending power to back up their cause.

This cultural movement consists of artists and entertainers; bloggers; researchers and scientists; global corporations and radical political organizations all coming together over a shared message and commitment to actively struggle to end global warming.

It re-brands the environmental movement for a web-2 demographic. Among its postmodern strategies are the carbon offset, a strategy that used to appeal only to planting trees, but now is framed in terms of an inclusive “carbon neutral” lifestyle. Everyone can participate, from the comfort of their dens and living rooms.

After some needed rest, Mr. Edwards would be well served, like Gore, to “search for fresh and new ways to serve (his) purpose” to end poverty for 37 million people. Imagine a corporate outsourcing offset that places consumers on record as boycotting products and services from American companies that move overseas, or a CEO salary offset that publicizes the number of job layoffs that coincide with raises in executive salaries.

Imagine monies from every “orange” I-Pod, Nike, and Motorola purchase going into a national poverty fund. Consider a global anti-poverty day of concerts interspersed with entertaining education, with the proceeds supplementing the minimum wage; or celebrity-laden anti-poverty ads benefiting second chance educational opportunities; or direct job creation.

By unleashing a multitude of progressive and corporate forces on global warming, in relatively short order, Gore was finally able to transcend the narrow constraints and delays associated with politics inside the beltway.

In ending his farewell speech, Edwards said, “Do not turn away from these great struggles before us. Do not give up on the causes that we have fought for. Do not walk away from what’s possible, because it’s time for all of us, all of us together, to make the two Americas one.”

And I would add, lets take all that we have learned, our skills and talents, and create a movement that others won’t easily walk away from. John Edwards has proved himself a catalyst and a leader. With the huge amounts of social and political capital at his disposal, in seven years hence, I can imagine an interactive consensus around the moral imperative of ending poverty.