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John Edwards: The Man to Beat


President Gerald Ford’s death reminded me of my formative years as a political commentator. I was a grade schooler attending Oakham Center School in the Central Massachusetts town of, well, Oakham when Richard Nixon stepped down as president and Gerald Ford took the oath of office. The intrigue of Watergate, frustration over Vietnam, and a pervasive and gathering loathing of politics within American culture had clearly gotten into the head of this budding political pundit, and I wrote an illustrated pamphlet called “The Two Little Pigs.”

Hardly the stuff of Grimm or Swift. But my little anthropomorphic tale nonetheless caused quite a stir among the teaching staff and, for a day, I was a bona fide sensation.

I can’t recall much of the content of that satire apart from the fact that the two titular characters were non-subtle references to Nixon and Ford, and that every word laid bare my political naiveté. That, and my graphical renderings were pathetic and executed with all the artistry of a slug.

Back then I got away with it because I was in fourth grade and my efforts could be excused as cute. More than thirty years later I’m still unencumbered by nuance, guile, or sophistication. The only thing that’s changed is that I no longer qualify as cute. But old habits die hard and as I watched the ceremonies surrounding Ford’s memorial and burial, I took note of another politician.

Lost in the news shuffle of our national mourning was the announcement from another guy who seems genuinely nice and aspires to the same office once held by Mr. Ford. John Edwards, 2004 Democrat vice presidential also-ran has decided again to seek his party’s nomination for president.

Bad timing for Edwards, as it turns out. But the right decision in the long run. And that fact will be demonstrated when the Democrats hold their convention in 2008 and select Edwards as their nominee.

In spite of the early attention being paid to what is being called an inevitable clash between Hillary and Barack, Edwards is the logical choice for the Democrats. As he proved in 2008, he is a formidable candidate. Articulate and attractive, Edwards’ 2004 down-payment on the 2008 race has paid off in a big way. As John Kerry’s running mate he is not tainted by the stink of defeat, but has all the advantages of having endured a long campaign.

Barack Obama, the party’s candidate du jour, rose to national prominence from within the Democrat-friendly political machinery of Chicago and will quickly learn that fawning coverage in Time and Newsweek in 2005 and 2006 means nothing in ’07 and ’08. On the brutal national stage, his lack of experience will become painfully evident. And, I am sad to say, America – even left-wing America – is simply not ready to elect a black man named Obama once the curtain to the voting booth is drawn.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is already showing signs of cracking under the pressure of a campaign that hasn’t even (officially) begun. Her appearance on The View – as friendly a platform as Hillary will ever find – was laughably void of sincerity or spontaneity. Evidently Ms. Clinton’s arrival on The View’s stage was preceded by her handlers, who likely set the terms of her appearance. Her opponents won’t be so easily manipulated, and over the long haul of a presidential campaign it is inevitable that the shrill, brooding Hillary we all know and loathe will certainly rear its ugly head.

Joe Biden? Please. Joe’s a fine member of the U.S. Senate, and I believe our nation is better for his service in that august body, but Biden’s long-winded, deliberative style was more appropriate for Lincoln-Douglas than the 10-second sound bite.

Edwards is as good-looking as Obama, but has the battle savvy Obama lacks. Edwards politics, though left-leaning, are more genuine than Hillary’s. And while both are thoughtful speakers, Edwards has the ability to make a point in half the time and twice the clarity of Joe Biden.

The other “hopefuls” won’t even register so much as a blip in New Hampshire and Iowa. So when the last straw boater and shred of confetti are swept from the convention floor, 2008 will have been the year John Edwards’ presidential investment paid its dividends.

Share  Posted by Mike Spinney at 12:15 AM | Permalink

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