Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards out 

Hardy, ambitious souls are drawn to the ultimate prize of the American Presidency, and enter the absurd campaign "game". Some play to win, others don't. There's an art and a science to finding a "winning" campaign posture, and to succeeding in primaries and elections. But there are no guarantees. Brilliancies and blunders can change the game in an instant. So can external factors beyond any one individual's control. Nowadays, trivialities reign supreme.

If you are a talented candidate who is a big underdog, you have to take bigger risks to succeed, both strategically and tactically. It's the only way. Beyond inhuman discipline and confidence, an underdog candidate must also understand when winning political "windows" open, and be ready to take maximum advantage of them. Ignoring the "odds" and creating one's own opportunities at the right time-- often at the last minute-- can change elections.

For example:

In the final, frigid days leading up to the 2004 Iowa caucuses, the presidential campaign of Senator John Edwards was struggling. While Howard Dean was packing in hundreds and even thousands at his [campaign rallies], Edwards wasn't a big enough draw to fill even the double-wide mobile home where one of his supporters was hosting a house party...

It takes superhuman fortitude to persist through such campaign spells. The pressure is on to make a move, but it's never exactly clear how to do that. Yet, during a few crucial weeks in 2004, John Edwards found a new theme and began delivering his "Two Americas" speech.

Within days, overflow crowds were lining up in the snow to hear Edwards and pulling down his posters to be autographed after he had finished speaking. "They were handing up anything that could be signed--napkins, envelopes. Here's the back of my deposit slip, sign that," his wife Elizabeth wrote in her memoir. Bill Clinton's old strategist James Carville marveled at the time that it was the best stump speech he had ever heard. On Salon, Peter Dizikes predicted, "Before too long, the Edwards speech could be like a museum exhibit that political tourists flock to see before it closes."

After his near win in Iowa, John Edwards repeated his "Two Americas" speech on prime-time TV, and it was one of the best campaign speeches in a long time. A GOP strategist called me up immediately afterwards and declared it to be "scary". That comment made me giggle in delight. In dramatic fashion, a Democratic candidate had struck political gold. But, unfortunately Edwards was unable to parlay his theme into a winning electoral formula outside Iowa. During the 2004 primaries, he refused to "fight" with Kerry, and was rewarded with the Veep slot. His responsibilities then included being Kerry's disciplined "right hand man", carrying North Carolina, and kicking Darth Cheney in the testes during the Veep debate.

Unfortunately, none of these things happened.

So, Edwards spent the next four years building a campaign strategy around winning Iowa in 2008, and again came up short. I like Edwards. I think his policy platform is commendable. I've donated to his campaign. Before Iowa, I'd been pretty nice to him here at YRHT, even though he wasn't my top choice. But after losing Iowa in 2008 I knew his campaign was effectively over. He'd bet it all, and came up short. Edwards is simply not a political warrior (which is more of a compliment than a criticism of him as a person). He refused to truly engage* in the absurd Presidential campaign game (again-- no criticism there), even though he chose that battlefield to wage the "fight of his life" against poverty.

Now John Edwards concludes his campaign in New Orleans, where he began it. I'm confident he will continue his "fight", and hope he is able to push the remaining candidates toward his agenda, and assist a new Democratic administration next year.

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* keeping in mind that there are many, many ways to play the game
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Gumbofile has photos of Edwards announcement here.
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Update: Meteor Blades at Kos wrote an excellent post about Edwards and New Orleans.

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23 Comments:

I'm confident he will continue his "fight", and hope he is able to push the remaining candidates toward his agenda, and assist a new Democratic administration next year.

He's kind of the "accidental poverty advocate". Kind of smarmy and phony but he has been on the right side for the better part of the past four years.

What do you think of the buzz about him angling for AG in a Dem administration?

By Blogger jeffrey, at 12:22 PM  

You know what, it was if there was a freakin' smile transplant from Ted Haggard to John Edwards. The dude just creeped people out.

By Blogger D-BB, at 1:23 PM  

yeah...dropping out a week before super Tuesday tells me that he already has a deal with Obama, if not both Obama and HRC. AT with Obama, maybe the same with HRC. I don't see him as VEEP for either-- so, who will be Obama's VEEP?

By Blogger Ashley, at 1:26 PM  

"What do you think of the buzz about him angling for AG in a Dem administration?"

I think it would be an excellent fit.

"who will be Obama's VEEP?"

A white male with military experience.

By Blogger oyster, at 1:37 PM  

I don't think I have heard anyone describe him as smarmy or creepy. Most of the women I know found him very attractive. The only thing I think he needed was some cold medicine (or at least a breathe right strip).

I think that Edwards is more likely to be the choice of VEEP for Obama or Hillary than Obama and Hillary are the choices for each other.

I don't know who else Obama would choose for Veep. Perhaps someone who didn't run for President from a strategic location.

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 1:42 PM  

Oyster: Wesley Clark?

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 1:50 PM  

"What do you think of the buzz about him angling for AG in a Dem administration?"

Dick Cheney is already calling David Vitter to find out where he gets his diapers.

By Anonymous Shitty Scents, at 2:36 PM  

Valid post. I got a good many pictures and some video from the event today.
http://gumbofile.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/john-edwards-out-mccain-in/

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:18 PM  

"Wesley Clark?"

No, he'll perhaps be Sec Def or maybe Veep for Hillary (that's more of a longshot). I don't think he'll be on Obama's list of possibles.

By Blogger oyster, at 3:38 PM  

I was just taking a stab in the dark, not knowing what white man with military experience he would choose.

Anyone from the South that would fit that role who could perhaps bring in a Southern state or two?

Or do we have to hope that Mitt wins and the evangelicals stay home because they wont support a Mormon?

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 4:15 PM  

I wanted to gouge my eyes out when I saw it this morning.

John Edwards does have the heart, mind, and calculating smile of a killer, he should have busted his ass to cut the throats of the corporate whores that the republicunts who own the DNC & Howard Dean are pushing. But as much as he wanted it, something held him back. He never played his "A" game, he never floored it and rammed through the blockage of the MSM and their corporate massahs. He should've removed the muzzle from Elizabeth, for damned sure. I never thought that I'd see the day when HIS huevos shriveled and hers were bigger, but there you have it.

Fuck Nader's useless profiteering ass, I say we get behind Elizabeth Edwards and get her ass into office! Maybe then she can teach Hillary what it means to be a Democrat, when she has the losers over for a conciliatory tea.

BTW, if anybody knows a curly-headed girl named Andrea (from Get Your Act On!), tell her that I saw her on CNN today at Edwards' press conference.

By Blogger Anntichrist S. Coulter, at 7:04 PM  

Perhaps it had become clear that staying in the race was hurting the candidate he will support.

By Anonymous Sophmom, at 9:02 PM  

"A white male with military experience."

Military experience, and being a whit e male, doesn't make one worthy of the Presidency. But does John Q. Public realize it? Jane Q. does, I think.

By Blogger Charlotte aka TM, at 9:02 PM  

I like the idea of Wesley Clark, in part because of the innuendos that right wingers were making about him 4 years ago. They won't be able to resist trying to swift boat Clark if he's the veep, that might make it possible to take the kid gloves off with McCain without being crucified. If Obama got the nomination and picked Clark after Clark endorsed Clinton (didn't he endorse her back in September?) that could even be played to Obama's advantage.

Yeah, Edwards could have done better in the debate, but if Kerry really blames Edwards for the loss, it shows just how out of touch he really is. Because I subscribe to the theory that undecideds are more swayed by the arguments of the people they know than by commercials and debates, I think Kerry's failure to answer the "voted for Iraq funding before he voted against it" canard was the most inexcusable campaign mistake that I've ever seen -- most inexcusable because the response was so easy. I don't know how many votes that would have swung, but Rove called it the gift that kept giving. Who knows how many of the sort of group discussions that sway undecideds were won by Bush voters because of that.

Also, I've said before that it's a myth that Edwards was too nice throughout the campaign. He gave great anti-Bush speeches, but you had to go online to find them. At the time, I was pissed at the news networks for not showing them or the DNC for not demanding equal time. But it could be that if you really think the veep's role is attack dog, you need somebody who does the attacking in sound bites.

By Blogger bayoustjohndavid, at 9:25 PM  

Anntichrist S. Coulter

You got style! I like u.

By Blogger D-BB, at 10:35 PM  

And you are female too, my most favorite gender type person if you know what I mean.

Sorry Oyster for getting a tad off of topic.

By Blogger D-BB, at 10:37 PM  

This isn't e harmony, d-bb.

But Annti definitely is the shiznit.

By Blogger oyster, at 12:46 AM  

Att. General Edwards - best place to fight the "causes he was born to fight."

ratboy vp

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