The John Edwards Factor

Aquarian Weekly 7/14/04 REALITY CHECK


John EdwardsTrue to his transparent nature, John Forbes Kerry has gone scratch on his choice for vice president. John Edwards is the southern democrat that every northeastern presidential candidate has felt the need to tap into for decades, one that sates the party’s hunger for solidarity and forces Republicans to fight in geographical areas thought untouchable. Meaning the idea of the Edwards pick is not to gain minor victories in the almost impregnable southern electorate, but to distract the Bush forces away from the mid-west battleground states for key chunks of time while they defend once solid ground.

These are the machinations of the front-runner. However slim and vacillating that lead may be – up to and around seven to eight points by press time, according to whatever source you subscribe to – this has been, and still is Kerry’s puppy to lose. Incumbents with this kind of spotty record sitting on sloppy police actions face uphill battles. Daring leaps must come from the Bush camp. This is what the Edwards pick tells us. But how much does it help the Kerry ticket come fall?

A formidable opponent during this past winter’s primaries and the best campaigner currently in this tussle, Edwards helps unify the Democrats the way the reformed ugliness between Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan cracked the whip for republicans in 1980. The fact is the Kerry campaign is a rudderless ship with no policy direction and little momentum. There has been an air of stagnation around his people for months, and as the roll out of Edwards clearly displays, the Kerry people will milk its energy for all its worth to co-opt the strong Edwards rhetoric of “us vs. them” used effectively as “The Tale of Two Americas”; a postulate of the rich, powerful war-mongers taking advantage of the rest of us regular suckers during the North Carolina senator’s primary run.

It’s more of the same tired crap, but now at least it comes from a decent communicator, one who isn’t chipper over merely NOT being George Bush.

Edwards, unlike Kerry, is a dynamic personality and a self-made millionaire. As an enormously successful trial attorney, he possesses the gift of communicating difficult concepts, couching emotion in scintillating terms, and putting on the kind of show the Dems expected from a Bill Clinton – in other words, a master bullshitter.

Edwards, unlike Kerry, is a dynamic personality and a self-made millionaire. As an enormously successful trial attorney, he possesses the gift of communicating difficult concepts, couching emotion in scintillating terms, and putting on the kind of show the Dems expected from a Bill Clinton – in other words, a master bullshitter. The Dems will doubtless continue to espouse gloom and doom, something Kerry is frighteningly adhered to since his shocking victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, but without so much the sour edge. Edwards exudes the innate ability to tell you bad news with a radiant demeanor and attack like a rabid pit bull as the sunshine kid.

Sound enough reasons for the Edwards selection.

However, the bold move for Kerry would have been John McCain. He tried that bizarre route of crossing parties to put the hammer down on a wounded incumbent and came up snake eyes. So you can’t fault him for trying to rock the Kasbah, but it does leave the door open for McCain to be lured to the post on the opposite side of the voting ledger.

More on that later.

Then there was the traditional elder statesman pick of the party, Bob Graham. Silver-haired experience for the green national candidate with a summer lead helped George Bush four years ago. His pick of Dick Chaney was wildly popular within the GOP and somewhat allayed the fears of an electorate assured of his inability to envision a global view. What terrible irony that turned out to be.

Of course this space has long maintained that Dick Gephardt was the smartest choice. A Missouri man with strong ties to union bosses and an insider approach to hitting the most vulnerable swing-states this fall, Gephardt would have helped secure the biggest electoral votes up for grabs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc. Edwards helps only in distracting the Bush camp in the south. He never showed a pulse up there during any primary.

So what of the chance that John McCain would step in for Dick Chaney come September? A distinct possibility if these poll numbers continue to level out or even plummet for Bush. By convention time the GOP will be so up in arms the president will have no choice but to woo his old punching bag back into the ring for a little of the two-step. And if McCain should nibble – and I’m told this is nuts and he wouldn’t take this bait if it reeked of infinite power – Kerry would not win.

Underestimating John McCain’s appeal to the all-important Independent voter base was nearly a fatal mistake for G.W. in 2000, one the Dem power base knows all too well.

Now before you’re too quick to dismiss this madness, it’s important to remember the kind of desperation the most powerful gig in the known universe slipping through one’s fingers has on a man. From what I could gather within the Beltway two weeks ago, this is more than rumor and could begin to gain momentum once the lead bulges to double-digits.

But back on planet Kerry, Edwards is the logically safe choice when considering two things; Kerry’s solid, if not curious standing in the national polls and the need to galvanize the Democratic and Independent electorate. Unless you’re a complete idiot like Sean Hannity, you must admit there is a definite groundswell against the president, and if people actually turn out this time it is always bad business for the incumbent, unless that guy’s name is Ronald Reagan, and they finally buried that unsinkable loon a few weeks back.

Finally, the power and influence of the Edwards pick can be seen in the vicious first salvos thrown by the Republicans within minutes of the announcement. As they stumble over themselves painting the man as a greedy, slick, liberal, ambulance-chaser the numbers climb and time is short.

Meanwhile, with four and one half months to go two men stand in the way of total victory either way in what threatens to be a death match to the end; John McCain and Ralph Nader.

Don’t think for one minute Nader’s comments on wanting to see Edwards as the pick was any coincidence he is the pick. Right now everyone, and I do mean everyone in the Democratic Party feels without Nader mucking up the works it is all but over, and Nader knows it too, which is why he’ll stay in this thing until the last minute for a power play, no matter what craziness he tells his people in weaker moments.

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