Elizabeth Edwards

Jonathan Alter on Elizabeth Edwards, who sadly passed away today.

I saw her in public twice. First, I was at the Raleigh rally in 2004 when John Kerry had first picked John Edwards, and they were joined by their spouses. Then, I went to my first and only candidate event of the 2008 Presidential campaign, a June 2007 birthday barbecue for John Edwards in Chapel Hill.

A Letter From Elizabeth Edwards

Cleaning out a drawer. Found one of those unopened campaign letters, specially one addressed from “Elizabeth Edwards” dated August 14, 2007. Some excerpts…

Dear David…

…John Edwards is the best candidate to represent our Democratic values in the 2008 election…

…we’re going to win the Democratic nomination by waging a smart, strategic, passionate campaign…in the Iowa caucuses…where John has been consistently leading and where his values, priorities, and detailed policies have won him high favorability…

…enabled us to…get on the air in Iowa and New Hampshire with strong TV ads emphasizing John’s leadership, optimism, and courage…

Our “road to victory” has taken some surprising turns…

We’re in this to create a better future for our country and to elect a president in whom we can trust and believe.

Thank you again for everything you’ve done thus far and for whatever you can do today.

Elizabeth Edwards

Not regretting not reading my mail in this case.

I don’t care what they did in their private lives, but the fairy-tale marriage represented by their Wendy’s-anniversary-dinners was something they made a big campaign point, so the revelations that they both participated in spreading such bullshit is disappointing.

Edwards out

I’m stunned. I liked the idea of him bringing 15-20% of the delegates to Denver. At the same time, better for all Edwards loyalists to accept reality now rather than after Super Tuesday thumpings. He deserved more support. I suppose some thought he was just getting in the way; I thought he added a lot of value. I’m saddened.

John Edwards not out of it based on these numbers

Delegates needed to win: 2025

Clinton needs: 2016
Obama needs: 2016
Edwards needs: 2021

This is out of the New York Times Election Guide 2008

Granted, the Nevada delegates aren’t factored in, nor are Clinton and Obama’s pledged superdelegates. Even if Edwards were to come in third in S.C. and the media completely wrote off his campaign, that should not be sufficient reason for Democrats in the other 40-45 states that haven’t voted from doing so. I don’t know why I bother posting this, given my previous expression of comfort with either a Clinton or Obama nomination. I still ultimately think Edwards would be the strongest candidate in a general election.

UPDATE Then again, the numbers state-by-state don’t look good. Convention wisdom says Edwards needs to poll 17% to collect delegates and make a difference in the campaign, by potentially endorsing Obama down the road. But a big loss in South Carolina would probably push him to 10-15% at best in big states like California. Super Tuesday will be here soon enough, and that will likely do in his campaign…

Stunner: Media can’t actually do the voting for voters

Here’s one of the many headlines touting the “comeback” of Hillary Clinton to win the New Hampshire primary:
Stunner in N.H.: Clinton defeats Obama

WHAAAT? Hillary Clinton was the front-runner for a year-and-a-half. Suddenly, she was “stunned” in Iowa a mere FIVE days ago. Does the media think that New Hampshire voters who have been intimately wooed for twelve to eighteen months suddenly decided how they’d vote based on what Iowans thought FIVE days ago. Of course, they did. Because most Americans are clueless enough to have suddenly made up their minds based on what Iowans decided FIVE days ago, if the meaningless national polls are to be believed. New Hampshire voters, however, put a little more thought into it. Whether you agree with how they voted or not, they didn’t give a flying duck how Iowa voted or how the media has painted the race for the past few days.

So…the delegate count for the Democrats:
Obama : 25
Clinton : 24
Edwards : 18

It certainly looks like a two-person race, doesn’t it? They say Edwards has no money? I don’t either, but I just sent him some.

Obama: inspirational, intelligent, says all the right things…ultimately doesn’t have a clue what’s he’s going to do as President…Republicans will play the race card, very subtly, and bring him down
Clinton: polished, intelligent, I believe she really does have a sincere bone or two…ultimately, what’s in her heart doesn’t matter as much as the popular opinion about her, and she won’t win the hearts and minds of independents in November
Edwards: polished, intelligent, more of a vigilante than a uniter tone (which I don’t mind one bit but this probably turns some off), not the most qualified…ultimately, the least flawed of these three candidates, in my opinion, with the best chance to win in November

So I don’t love Edwards, but I could complain about how unfair it is that he’s not getting more support, or I can do something about it and help pay for an ad.

New Hampshire ’08 (and some left over Iowa stuff)

I never followed up on Iowa ’08. I had some notes. (Note I’ve taken taking notes more often before just posting stuff. I hate to admit that I’m trying for some sort of quality in my posts, but perhaps I am). I’m a bit late with those, but I’ll resurrect that storyline briefly before jumping ahead to the present and what’s happening in New Hampshire.

From last Thursday (1/3/08):
Since there is no way Mike Huckabee becomes President of the United States, I’m glad to see Mitt Romney and his wallet get the smackdown in Iowa.

I heard David Gergen on the CNNTV audio feed that even a second place finish for Edwards meant he was finished because he has no more cash left. That’s unfortunate if true. He’s clearly a viable candidate, and Romney’s defeat shows that cash isn’t everything. But David Gergen is the former adviser to 23 Presidents, so what do I know?

And amazingly enough, the analysis on CNN still focused on Obama vs. Clinton, even though Edwards is right in there!

Meanwhile, Bill Bennett was very gracious is speaking of how great it was that “Barack Husein Obama” could do so well. If a person doesn’t use their middle name except when signing mortgage papers, a pundit is taking a cheap shot to use it. Many Americans, like those who watch Fox or read Drudge, believe that Obama is a Muslim, and Bennett is playing along.

I heard Hillary Clinton’s and John Edwards’ post-caucus speeches. Hillary’s wasn’t particularly inspiring. Edwards’ speech was tremendous. But Obama had the spotlight, and it’s hard to argue that he didn’t deserve it.

With Obama having all the momentum, it’s very difficult to have much hope in the Edwards run, and that’s a shame.

[I didn’t see Obama’s “historic” speech].

The New Hampshire coverage is ridiculous (at least on CNN)…they’re implying we’ll be up all night watching to see whether Clinton or Obama ‘wins’. The media has created an artificial contest, determining that if one candidate wins by one vote, that is worthy of generating a wave momentum. It shouldn’t. The NH contest should be labeled a tie, and they should take take split delegates and go on to the next state. Likewise, Iowa may have been historic for Obama, and finishing third was a disappointment for Clinton, but you’d think he clobbered her 2-1 based on the media reaction.

They just highlighted how women who made up their minds today favored Hilary 43-36 over Obama, as opposed to the 39-37 the overall poll currently shows. It’s NOT a huge difference. It’s a ridiculously exaggerated analysis to say that Hillary’s emotional moment the other day made such a huge difference.

I know it’s unfair to blame just the media for how quickly two years of meticulous campaigning and hard work by thousands of workers and volunteers can be obliterated by a ten-second video clip or media reports of perceptions that may or may not be mere media inventions but become self-fulfilling prophecies in any case. Americans, overall, are so disengaged as to be susceptible to the media influence. The fact that a lot of people say they’d consider voting for Obama because they “like” him even though they know virtually nothing about him is maddening to me. It is said that one who wants to be part of a movement of change ought to become involved at the grassroots level. Volunteer. Get involved. Well, shit, if all it takes to be elected is to be liked (it worked for Bush in 2000), what’s the point of any of this? What’s the point of anyone developing a 938-point healthcare plan? What’s the point of answering questions from the crowds or from the media? What’s the point of having any clue what you’d do as President if you can get by with being a good speaker and convince people that you’re likable?

I don’t mean to say that it’s unreasonable to support Obama because he’s likable and inspiring. I have not been a Hillary fan. I feel especially bad for the Edwards people (and the Dodd and Richardson and Biden and Kucinich people) but I even feel a little bad for Hillary that no one ultimately cares what you plan to do.

The big story according to the talkies that I AGREE is a big story is the tremendous Democratic turnout to follow the tremendous turnout in Iowa. Regardless of who ultimately wins what, this bodes well for the Dems.

10 minutes of the CNN audio is all I can take.

Iowa ’08

Iowans take politics very seriously, and they’re far more interested in learning about presidential candidates than most Americans. I don’t know if this is a function of their first-in-the-nation status or the lack of anything more interesting to do in Iowa. Either way, they give careful scrutiny to candidates in way a national campaign will never allow for, so I don’t subscribe to the notion that it’s unfair that they get to decide. After all, Iowans are a reasonable-enough representative of Americans1. I suppose it might make sense to rotate primary schedules every four years. I’m mainly saying that having a more national primary would result in the campaigning having absolutely no substance.

I am hoping that John Edwards pulls out a win over Clinton and Obama. For me, he’s got the best combination of authenticity and ability. If it’s going to be Clinton or Obama, I do not have a preference. I like Obama more, but not as much as everyone else who’s in love with Obama. I believe that, of the three first-tier candidates, Obama is most vulnerable to losing in a general election, although my reasoning might be canceled out by the intangible element of first-time voters whom Obama may be able to motivate to come out in ways no other candidate ever has before. (My cynicism here comes from the part about how “no other candidate ever has before” ever truly gotten young people come out and vote. Sure, they register. But they never really do come out and vote).

On the Republican side, the Huckabee vs. Romney choice is quite frightening. Hard to believe that McCain, Giuliani aren’t even trying to compete given those horrific options. Huckabee wants to make history by defeating a guy who has outspent him by huge margins. That would indeed be impressive. But it would be a disturbing mirror of Iowans should they select a man who refutes evolution, once preached that women belong at home, and believed that AIDS victims should be quarantined. It would hardly be more flattering should they select Romney, a guy who believes in his heart of hearts absolutely nothing.

Dodd, Richardson, Biden are all much better candidates than Huckabee and Romney based on their knowledge, qualifications, and authenticity, and it’s unfortunate that one or more of them will probably be out of the reason within a week or two.

1 White, middle-class Americans

John Edwards and Getting out of Iraq

Did I mention my John Edwards page yet?

Well, whether I did or not, I’ll mention it again. He’s got a push out today to raise about $30K to get a get-out-of-Iraq ad in the Washington Post for tomorrow. I know I posted awhile back about how we can’t realistically just pick up and leave Iraq as many progressives advocate. However, as I tried to articulate then, albeit poorly, I think the get-out-of-Iraq-now chorus has to be loud in order for any sort of compromise to occur. If all Dems went along with a more pragmatic viewpoint, I don’t think a pragmatic compromise would have as much of a chance. Another long-winded analogy…I don’t think it’s realistic to expect every state to allow gay marriage anytime soon. It’s more realistic to work towards getting civil unions legalized in every state. But if people were to give up fighting for gay marriage, opponents of gay rights would say, “Well, since you gave up there, why not just go a step further and give up on civil unions, too?” I think it’s just basic negotiating (not that I’m personally skilled in this area); ask for a lot more than you can realistically get so that you can wind up with something that’s still beneficial but more realistic. If you start out asking for something realistic, you’re likely to get a lot less than what you wanted.