Thursday, July 19, 2007

Madison v. Marbury, Plessy v. Ferguson, Edwards v. Poverty

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, whose complexion strangely resembles that of the original Oompa-Loompas, recently embarked on a "poverty tour," a 12-city opportunity to stress the strength of his belief that addressing poverty should be a top concern in this country. Actually, this NPR story phrases it more strongly than that, saying that Edwards "has pinned his campaign largely on ending poverty in America." (Emphasis mine.) The story goes on to say, "The journey mirrors the famous 1968 tour of impoverished areas by then-senator and presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy." Ah, yes, the '68 tour that ended poverty in America, only to see it return in 1975.

Has Edwards also promised to end sadness? Rain?

(I see that The Onion, not surprisingly, has beaten me to the punch. And a friend of mine made this funny video.)

Edwards is smart, but my problem with him has always been that he comes across as (Bill) Clinton Lite, with his smarmy grin and a bit too much "feeling of pain" for my taste. When I hear Barack Obama speak, I feel like he's trying to engage me in an adult conversation, whereas I feel like Edwards is trying to convince me that -- well, that he can do things like end poverty. (This is all opposed to Hillary. When she speaks, I feel like she's straining to send her invisible rays into my brain; the ones that will compel me to immediately find the nearest polling booth and pull the lever to make her The Most Powerful Person in the World. Then she will crush me into a fine powder and dust me into her bottle of Gatorade.)

But if you're eager for the end of the Bush administration (and I think that roughly translates these days to "if you're American, or just sentient, or are tied up to some machines and have a remaining flicker of brain activity"), then the most infuriating thing about Edwards must be his inability to capitalize on the country's current mood. Edwards voted to authorize Bush to start the war in Iraq, so you can understand his reticence to focus too much on the issue, but we're a forgiving people. Instead, the NPR interview makes clear that he's happy to have Iraq serve as one of many issues that will fuel his campaign. Intellectually, this seems admirable and right. But strategically, it might be a bit soft. But cut-throat strategy hasn't been a problem recently for Democrats, has it?




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