Friday, June 03, 2005

John Edwards: A Winning Voice for Democrats

Of all the candidates in the 2004 Democrat Presidential field, John Edwards always struck me as the most committed to affecting real change. I disagree strongly with his protectionist trade policies and I’m wary of his past as a medical malpractice trial lawyer (my wife is a physician, so I admit a personal bias here), but Edwards isn’t just a stuffed shirt.

As Charging RINO reported yesterday, Edwards has been crisscrossing America (and even the world) working hard to sell his vision and uncover solutions for the problems facing average Americans. His One America Committee is a very active organization that focuses on such issues as minimum wage, workers rights and grassroots politics aimed at building Democrat majorities in state houses across the nation.

I don’t know if Edwards’ ideas will earn him enough support to win the Democrat Presidential nomination in 2008, let alone the White House. But I do know he’s going about politics in the right way. He’s not speaking at huge fundraisers and making inappropriate jokes like Howard Dean, or carefully crafting an image like Hillary Clinton, or droning on about the evil of Republicans like John Kerry does. He’s out in the real world, meeting with real people and committing himself to creating real change.

And who knows, CAFTA’s problems with finding enough votes in the House shows that American’s are not completely sold on free trade and could respond favorably to protectionist policies. And Edwards’ folksy, populist message may resonate quite well if the economy continues to sputter and Iraq is less of an issue.

Edwards lost a lot of luster when he hitched his wagon to the Kerry campaign, but Republicans and Democrats alike would be wrong to count Edwards down and out. He’s not the kind of Centrist candidate we here at The Yellow Line would eagerly support, but that doesn’t mean his traditional Democrat message is a losing one. For an electorate that values conviction, Edwards delivers. And for a party desperately seeking a strong voice, Edwards has one.

If traditional liberalism has any strength left, Edwards is just the man to lead a resurgence. He’ll be interesting to watch.


At 3:13 PM, Blogger RHEMA said...

Edwards all the way. As for the lawyers vs. doctors statement, I view it like the system of checks and balances. You need the threat of lawsuits to keep some medical professionals in line. Definitely to keep corporations in line. Lawyers don't go out looking for fights with medical professionals, but they do have an obligation to defend the injured party. I'm sure you understand this. You seem to be reasonable because you'd support Edwards despite him being a plantiff's attorney. Either way, the problem isn't lawyers, the problem is insurance companies.


At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Strayhorn said...

As a North Carolinian who has watched Edwards these past few years, I can agree he's not a stuffed shirt.

He's an empty suit.

As relieved as we were to be rid of Jesse Helms, we just couldn't believe our bad luck that he would be replaced by a man who was in Iowa canvassing for votes just two weeks after taking office. And that was a good indicator of what he would do for his entire "career" in the Senate - everything for John Edwards, nothing for North Carolina.

His "office" at UNC is nothing but a taxpayer-funded gimme job supplied by the hacks in Raleigh, even as state workers in general and university workers in particular are stiffed out of a raise for Yet Another year.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


I have nothing against lawyers, although I do support capping malpractice settlements. It's a problem for doctors. They do somethimes get sued through no fault of their own. This is particularly true in OB, where any complication (including naturally occuring birth defects) is often blamed on the doctor. Edwards once delivered a closing argument while pretending to be a fetus in distress. In that case, the distress was due to complications the doctor had no control over...but Edwards won a huge settlement.

I don't hold that against him though. It was earlier in his life and he's very much a different man now. Plus, he was just doing his job.

And you're right, malpractice lawsuits are just part of the problem, albeit one that's easier to solve through reasonable caps. Lawyers might check the doctors, but who checks the lawyers?

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous beachrat said...

I agree that Edwards is likely to "affect" change, since that means feign or pretend. I also note that he landed a cushy spot (money for nothing) at a buzzword center at UNC, so his mooching off North Carolinians' tax dollars hasn't slacked, as strayhorn said, on top of having been paid by us for six years to campaign for president.

I'm also amazed that you consider he has a strong voice, since he dropped nearly everything he said he believed in during the primaries as soon as he got asked to be a bridesmaid instead.

He's nothing but a candle in the wind (and I don't mean that in a good way).

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

I think one of the biggest hurdles for Edwards will be his association with the Kerry campaign and how much they watered him down and turned him into another boring politician.

I also see that at least some of those from North Carolina take serious issue with his using his term as Senator to set himself up for a presidential run.

Still, I wouldn't count him out. He's not my choice for President, but I think he could appeal to a lot of people.

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Edwards is one of a very small handful of politicians in this country who genuinely care about how people live, their hopes, their opportunities, their safety.

He's as honest as the day is long, and his efforts to fashion a meaningful political career should be commended, as it is inspired not by desire for personal gain or glory, but by a true and abiding connection to real people and their very real problems.

Of course, it's easy to complain about his trips to Iowa while he was Senator. But I would, instead, celebrate this very thing you criticize. He believes in a cause (not just in himself) and he wants the widest and deepest forum in which to advocate for that cause. I hope he runs in 2008.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger David Rothman said...

I'm a lifelong liberal Democrat and voted for Kerry-Edwards last year. He has many good qualities. But I'm deeply concerned over the big contributions he got from Hollywood. They wouldn't bother me if Edwards had the guts to speak out on Bono and the DMCA. But so far he hasn't. I hope that changes. I badly want him to realize that more and moire people will catch on to these issues. The earlier he can address them, the better for both society and his career. Check out the basic facts, then write Edwards a polite note asking him to tell us how he really feels about copyright term extension and the DMCA, both of which over the years will cost ordinary folks billions and harm our high-tech industries.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger some horrible person said...

Electing John Edwards to the US Senate is one of the few good things the people of NC have done. He cares about real people and what happens to them. Oh, and strayhorn, this fellow North Carolinian wants to know what Elizabeth Dole has done for our state in her term. She's running for re-election next year and I cant come up with a single reason to vote for her.

Edwards is one of the few genuine politicians in this country. I went to a rally when he came home right before the election and I was in complete awe. The maybe 30 minutes that he spoke was enough to make me a true believer that you don't have to play dirty to survive in the political world.

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all I have to say that Edwards does not espouse the protectionist sentiments the way they came across during the primaries to some. He wants to put in real standards for child labor, environment, etc... because I think that "social justice" is a theme prevalent in almost everything he says and does.

You can view his ideas on globalization at this blog entry he posted at TMP Cafe

I happen to agree that Edwards is a strong voice for progressives - if not the strongest. I think he is a very smart, gifted politician with an accurate assessment of America's current political, ideological, and global landscape.

I can understand people complaining about Edwards not being on the local scene in NC as much. However, I think he wants to affect change at the national level, and I might add that a lot of his policies (from uplifting rural economies to increasing college grants) were extremely well thought out and would be effective in fixing our broken system.

Also, the whole argument about him having become an ineffective campaigner in the general election is true; but I think the whole campaign was mismanaged. As Carville once said, "he (Edwards) was a thoroughbred and they kept him in the barn"... I think, as a lot of Kerry-Edwards aids have hinted, those running the show did not want Edwards to be on the national front, because that only raised expectations for Kerry when it comes to personality, passion, and that "it" factor. So, to protect their candidate they localized Edwards' events... he did most of the campaigning in rural areas and incidently, the democrats gained ground in rural areas in this election according to the Cook's report. Now, I can assure anyone that it wasn't Kerry that caused that increase in democratic percentages; only Edwards out of the current democratic frontrunners has the potential to win back some of the rural, working class populace that the democrats have lost.

Lastly, the allusion to the case where Edwards contested that the doctors had not taken all "measures necessary" to prevent the medical complications in delivery and caused the baby's disability... well, you have to study the whole case to understand what he was contesting, as I have. For one, this was way back in the mid-90s... back then the consensus in the medical community was that while the causes of cerebral palasy were unknown, it is to be a standard that all doctors perform a c-section in a case of such complications as Edwards' client had suffered. The doctor that was charged in the case did not do that, while 99.9% of the medical community was administring that procedure. So, what the family sued for was the fact that the doctor did not take all necessary measures, agreed upon by the Medical Association, to prevent any complications. The doctor was not being charged for "causing" the disease; but instead, for negligence in his work. Of course, now the medical community's assessment has changed and so have the circumstances. However, let's judge the case in the period it was fought. I would recommend his own book "The Four Trials" to those interested in reading about his legal career.

Now, for those who complain about his work at UNC being a "taxpayer-funded gimme job"... I would like to know what these people are doing for their communities! Edwards has been around talking about issues that don't just affect most of us, but all of us.. and which most politicians lack the conviction and the courage to stand up for because they are too apolitical. I think he has the most specific vision for where he wants to take his country, and I happen to like that vision. I can understand if other don't, but judge the man on the work he has been doing.... he has been to hundreds of shelters and poor communities in the past few months. How many politicians are going around listening to the stories of those in homeless shelters and trying to come up with policies that will extend the ladder of opportunity to those at the very bottom. And, as he himself said the fact is that the gov't needs to start giving these people a "hand-up not a hand-out" (like some of the fruitless welfare programs). I think he has got his heart and mind in the right place; moving beyond the electability politics, I think he could be a very good president if he puts into action the ideas and beliefs that he holds.

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Heiuan said...

I liked what I saw from Edwards in the primaries. I agree with many of his stances.

As for protectionism, well...I firmly believe that there is sometimes the need for that. Sometimes you need to retrench and build your own back up when things get out of control, which I believe our trade balance has become.

The danger comes when protectionism is aligned with isolationism and is carried too far for too long.

:D To quote the old saw.."moderation is everything."

At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Strayhorn said...

snoop mollie mol -

Dole's greatest accomplishment? Easy - the agriculture settlement that finally put the tobacco program in the grave. Not only did that save the taxpayers billions but ended governmental support for an industry which has foisted ill health and political corruption across the country for more than 50 years.

And what, exactly, did Edwards do in six years? I notice you mention no accomplishments except that he speaks well. That's so sweet.

Anyone can preach to the choir. Doesn't take much to fool some of the people all of the time.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger some horrible person said...


I suggest you read a book called "Profiles In Courage" by John F. Kennedy. Maybe you've heard of him, maybe not. In this book, JFK talks about some of the best senators in our nations history and he also mentions how it is a United States senator's job to do what he or she finds best for the entire United States and not just the state that he or she represents.

Yes, Edwards did not sponsor any bills while in Senate but he had plans. If he had retained his senate seat (which I'm confident that he would have if he had chosen to run for re-election) then he would have been able to do some of those things.

I did remember one thing that Dole has done for NC... she got a high school marching band from Johnston county to play at Bush's Inauguration.

Maybe you don't know what it's like to be middle class and have to worry about how you are going to pay for your college tuition (among other things), but I do. And for my family and me, Edwards said what we were hoping to hear. I'm hoping Edwards runs against Dole in '06 for Senate, that way I'll get to cast my ballot for him.

At 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snoop Mollie Mol - and Strayhorn -

Check your facts please. To say that Edwards did not sponsor or introduce legislation while serving in the Senate is the height of all ignorance. It would take only a few minutes searching on (The Library of CONGRESS) to find all the bills he DID introduce, including those that passed and those that failed. Let us not forget who led the fight on the patient's bill of rights -just for starters. It was John Edwards.

How about S.216 : A bill to authorize the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop improvements in building and fire codes, standards, and practices to reduce the impact of terrorist and other extreme threats to the safety of buildings, their occupants, and emergency responders, and to authorize the Department of Homeland Security to form a task force to recommend ways to strengthen standards in the private security industry, stabilize the workforce, and create a safer environment for commercial building and industrial facility occupants. (Introduced by Edwards in January of '03)


S.410 : A bill to establish the Homeland Intelligence Agency, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Edwards, John [NC] (introduced 2/13/2003) Bet you thought that was all Bush's great idea?


S.620 : A bill to amend title VII of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for fire sprinkler systems, or other fire suppression or prevention technologies, in public and private college and university housing and dormitories, including fraternity and sorority housing and dormitories.
Sponsor: Sen Edwards, John [NC] (introduced 3/13/2003)


S.863 : A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to allow soldiers to serve their country without being disadvantaged financially by Federal student aid programs.
Sponsor: Sen Edwards, John [NC] (introduced 4/10/2003)


S.1809 : A bill to provide grants for mental health and substance abuse services for women and children who have been victims of domestic or sexual violence.
Sponsor: Sen Edwards, John [NC] (introduced 10/31/2003)

I suppose I won't beat you over the head with any other examples. I'll let his record speak for itself, but before you two go back and forth with petty soundbites about marching bands and speaking abilities, please take a moment to research these things. Its not too difficult.


At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Lead Dog said...

And how many of these Bills became Laws?

Three days a week - non-stop campaigning, hiding behind his wife's cancer.

A classic say-anything-to-get-elected pol.

At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lead Dog: You say he is hiding behind his wife's cancer. Are you kidding me? What kind of a person says something like that? As for Edwards being able to pass legislation with a republican senate as a freshman senator is quite difficult. You need to see the big picture. Did you read the bills he sponsored? Don't you think he had Americans' well being on his mind? You must think it's better when someone like Bush supports things like allowing industry to release more mercury pollution in the atmosphere. I think Edwards would have never supported something that harms prenant women and their unborn children. Can't you see the difference between a politician wanting to help people, and when a politician actually hurts them?

At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Lead Dog said...

Service for one term in elected office without a defined record of achievement is not a sound basis for a (second) candidacy for President.

"Well, I tried but the GOP was in charge so it's not my fault" is not a sound excuse. "Well, John Kerry smoked me in 2004 but he was the nominee so it's not my fault we lost" is not a rationale for receiving a second chance.

In short, "It's not my fault" is not a record or a message.

There are two ways to look at JRE:

A. a passionate advocate for the little guy - and we will have to take his word for that because that's all he has, or

B. a one-term politician/rich lawyer who could not deliver his own home state in a national election, with no record of legislative achievement and zero credentials on national security.

My point about Elizabeth is that he constantly says in interviews that he isn't thinking about the future, yet he travels three days a week.

Just cut the crap and run already. His voice is an important one in our party. That said, everyone expects Edwards to raise money (trial lawyers) and to be pretty on television, so he will meet certain metrics, but can he answer these questions:

How will you beat Hillary (the front-runner)?

How will you add to your security credentials?


Post a Comment

<< Home