Monday, June 18, 2007

Will the real John Edwards please stand up

Apparently it is candidate night here at Irrational Woman. This time, I turn my attention to John Edwards (NYT - Staking His Campaign on Iowa, Edwards Makes a Populist Pitch to the Left)
Mr. Edwards’s latest trip here offered evidence of just how much he studied the lessons of his Iowa defeat last time, though he would prefer to view it as a near victory. It also suggests the extent to which the rhythms of Iowa Democratic politics have shaped Mr. Edwards’s decidedly different candidacy this time around.

This time, he is a candidate of the left in a state marked by a strong antiwar and liberal streak, filling a vacancy created as Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have campaigned from the center. Mr. Edwards has shown a new eagerness to draw contrasts with his opponents on issues like the war in Iraq and health care, in no small part motivated by his struggle not to get lost in a field of big names. And he has gone from the boyish, easygoing one-time senator from North Carolina to a candidate displaying an urgently engaging manner as likely to seize as to charm an audience, an approach that appears to be particularly effective in the close-quarter meetings that fill his days here.
Okay, candidates can change some over time. But to some degree, he does come off as a bit of an opportunist.
A number of Democrats argued that Mr. Edwards’s shifts could provide ammunition for Democrats trying to stoke an image of Mr. Edwards, a trial lawyer by trade, as opportunistic and politically calculating.

“The problem with him is that he talks very much like a car salesman — you see what I mean?” said Rhonda Fisher, a sociology professor at Drake University, standing in the back of a auditorium after Mr. Edwards expressed sympathy to her upon learning that her son was returning for another tour of duty in Iraq.

Ms. Fisher, who said she supported Mr. Edwards last time, said the car-salesman perception of Mr. Edwards was “not fair,” but that it was prevalent enough to give voters like her pause about supporting him again out of concern that he could take the Democrats to defeat in 2008.
I have to admit, with the field of front-runners that he currently faces, his inexperience is certainly no big deal this time around. However, his appeal as a populist is questionable at best.
from his employment by a hedge fund to the $400 haircut he received that was the subject of mirthful coverage by Iowa newspapers for a month.
I have, in other forums, seen him compared to FDR, who was a Democrat and interested in helping out the little guy although he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth (which of course, Edwards was not). However, those were different times and practically in a different world. Plus, FDR was considered something of a light-weight himself until his battle with polio.

Anyway, it is difficult for me to get behind Edwards this time around as well. He just seems too much like he is saying one thing and doing another, while totally incapable of seeing his own inconsistencies. Again, not a characteristic I'm interested in seeing in my next president.

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