Monday, December 31, 2007



This morning I was watching a talk show on the BBC and the moderator asked for predictions about the biggest story of 2008-- the U.S. elections. Two of the talking heads thought McCain would win, one Clinton and one Obama. When talking about the Democratic nomination, no one mentioned Edwards; it was all Clinton the Insider who would provide a smooth transition from the Bush years and wouldn't change much and the quasi-"revolutionary" Obama. Do they ever have that wrong-- at least the part about Obama. Democrats in Iowa and Democrats starting to pay attention around the country are noticing that there is only one agent of change running this year: John Edwards. You want more of the same? Vote for Clinton, Obama or any of the pathetic pygmies seeking to personify a third George Bush term. You wanna shake things up a little? Edwards is the one. Insiders are scared shitless of him; his game plan will win in Iowa. Meanwhile an Insider hack like Stuart Rothenberg is already running around like a chicken without a head as Edwards surges and looks more and more like the victor in the first contest-- great news for anyone who actually knows the U.S. must end the war in Iraq.
Democrats must decide whether they want a candidate who is angry and confrontational, and who sees those favoring compromise as traitors (Edwards), or a candidate who presents himself as a uniter (Obama), or a candidate who presents herself as someone who understands the ways of Washington and can get things done (Clinton).

While Clinton and Obama both acknowledge the importance of working with various interests, including Capitol Hill Republicans and the business community, to come up with solutions to key problems, Edwards sounds more and more like the neighborhood bully who plans to dictate what is to be done.

The former North Carolina senator is running a classic populist campaign that would have made William Jennings Bryan (or Ralph Nader) proud. Everything is Corporate America’s fault. But he’s also portraying himself as fighting for the middle class and able to appeal to swing voters and even Republicans in a general election.

...But let’s be very clear: Given the North Carolina Democrat’s rhetoric and agenda, an Edwards Presidency would likely rip the nation apart – even further apart than Bush has torn it.

On Capitol Hill, Edwards’s “us versus them” rhetoric and legislative agenda would almost certainly make an already bitter mood even worse. He would in the blink of an eye unify the GOP and open up divisions in his own party’s ranks. Congressional Republicans would circle the wagons in an effort to stop Edwards’s agenda.

Non-insiders, on the other hand, are starting to see Edwards as the one man who can help America break free of it's shameful Bush past, someone who really will right the wrongs of the past 8 (if not 28 years). Without Ralph Nader 2000 run, George Bush, if remembered at all, would be known as a hapless, sub-mediocre former Texas governor. Today Nader let loose on Clinton for the Bush-lite Insider and representative of a hopelessly corrupt system that she is. He acknowledged that Edwards is the only one fit for the job.
"The issue is corporate power and who controls our political system and it's not who has experience for six years or two years," he said, alluding to an ongoing debate over experience between Clinton and freshman Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

"She has experience in the Senate, and what that experience has meant is going soft on cracking down on corporate crime, fraud, and abuse, soft on cutting tens of millions in corporate subsidies," he continued.

...Nader, a four-time presidential candidate, called Edwards a Democratic "glimmer of hope." He has long criticized Democrats as indistinguishable from Republicans, chiding both parties as slaves to corporate financing and interests.

And Nader isn't the only non-hack to slam back at the Rothenbergs, Clintons, Bushes, Romneys and Obamas. While fake populist Mike Hucksterbee wows credulous Republican rubes with his "Look at this negative ad about that horrible pro-abortion Mormon cultist and lying flip flopper I decided not to air," a real populist who speaks a language millions of ordinary Americans understand has endorsed Edwards. Yesterday John Nichols reported in The Nation why John Mellencamp is in Iowa supporting Edwards-- and why that's more important than the bevy of airheads who back Clinton, Obama, Giuliani and Huckabee.

Edwards "has waged a dramatically different campaign than Obama's feel-good effort. Where Obama has run the softest sort of campaign, Edwards is mounting a edgy, muscular effort that owes more to the memory of Paul Wellstone or the sensibilities of Ralph Nader than to the smooth triangulations of Bill Clinton or the not-so-smooth compromises of John Kerry. Edwards has fought his way back into contention with aggressively populist positions, anti-corporate rhetoric and a campaign that eschews glitz for grit. Necessarily, the former senator from North Carolina opts for a different sort of celebrity than the other contenders."
So it is that Mellencamp will come to Iowa Wednesday to close the Edwards campaign off with a "This Is Our Country" rally at the not-exactly-Hollywood Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines. (In case anyone is missing the point here, they will be distributing the tickets from the United Steelworkers Local 310 hall.)

Where Winfrey brought a big name but little in the way of a track record on the issues that are fundamental to the rural and small-town Iowans who will play a disproportional role in Thursday's caucuses, Mellencamp is more than just another celebrity taking a lap around the policy arena.

For a quarter century, the singer has been in the thick of the fight on behalf of the rural families he immortalized in the video for "Rain on the Scarecrow," his epic song about the farm crisis that buffeted Iowa and neighboring states in the 1980s and never really ended.

Mellencamp has not merely sung about withering small towns and farm foreclosures. As a organizer of Farm Aid, he has brought some of the biggest stars in the world to benefit concerts in Iowa and surrounding states, and he has helped to distribute the money raised at those events to organizations across Iowa.

Farm Aid is nonpartisan. It's not endorsing in this race. But Mellencamp is. The singer, who this year will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but whose music remains vital enough to have earned a 2008 Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance, was lobbied for support by other campaigns, especially Clinton's. But he has a long relationship with Edwards. He has an even longer relationship with the issues that Edwards is talking about. Indeed, his credibility is grounded in the recognition that Mellencamp has repeatedly taken career-risking anti-war, anti-racist and anti-poverty stances that other celebrities of his stature tend to avoid.

What matters, of course, is the fact of that credibility -- and the fact that it is so closely tied to the farm and rural issues that have meaning even in the more urbanized regions of Iowa. That is why, if there is an endorsement that is going to have meaning with the people who drive down country roads to attend caucuses on what looks to be a very cold and unforgiving Thursday night, it is likely to be that of the guy who proudly sings that, "I was born in a small town..."

If you check our Blue America site here at DWT you'll see that we're concentrating our efforts on House and Senate seats again this year. To me the most important races looming, the ones I plan to concentrate on for the next couple of months are Democratic primaries that pit agents of change against insider hacks-- like agent of change Donna Edwards vs hack Al Wynn in Maryland, agent of change John Laesch vs a Blue Dog hack named Foster in Illinois, and agent of change Mark Pera vs hack Dan Lipinski. Those are the races we urge our readers to contribute to this month. But... if any of our readers happen to live in Iowa or New Hampshire, please think carefully about doing the right thing and voting for John Edwards.


Very much worth careful consideration for everyone in Iowa tomorrow. Also very worth paying attention to is Jane's on the scene coverage at FDL for the next few days. That's where I'm turning to for the straight story, not to the shallow hacks at CNN or the Washington Post.

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At 3:43 AM, Blogger merlallen said...

Edwards has my vote in the unlikely event he wins the nomination.
I'm afraid it will be Hilary, though.
At least the wingers will be foaming at the mouth in rage, so that will be fun.

At 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When cash flows in from the Cold War wind down and the economy transforms with a once per century change from an industrial society to the tech revolution, profound monetary options abound.

That's how Clinton succeeded in producing a surplus. People who believe the 90s can be replicated obviously never heard of the Roaring Twenties.

So if Clinton wins... they're in for a rather rude shock. It's a shame people have to feel serious pain to seek the profound change that's needed.

Go Edwards!

At 7:19 AM, Blogger nick said...

I, too, am rooting for Edwards and I appreciate this post except for one thing. Can we lay off the hackneyed blame Bush on Nader bit. Besides being wrong, it's flat out tiresome and only shows an intellectual laziness that doesn't fit with the rest of the writing.

I have zero interest in dredging up the Nader arguments, but we could just blame it on Buchanan, or better yet the intentional removal of "felons" from the voter roles, the craptacular voting machines, the failure of the media, vote caging, intentional efforts to steal the election both before the election day and after including the riots of the suits, the legal dishonesty of the supreme court and so on. I'm not bothering to link to any proof, but for any of us who paid attention in 2000 (and 2004) know it wasn't as simple as scapegoating Nader (whatever we think of him). Please tear up that hackneyed cliche and stick to the intellectually-honest insights we come here for.

Happy New Year!

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick, I just looked at the numbers again, and ANY 3rd party candidate's totals in 2000 in Florida would have tipped the selection to Gore, and we know of course Gore would not have gotten all those votes. BUT, if you add up ALL the other 3rd party votes they total something like 40,000 votes vs Naders 97,000.
While I would take your point that Nader isn't the ONLY reason that Florida was lost, I sleep well believing that if Nader had dropped his ego trip run and thrown his endorsement to Gore, or even just dropped out, W WOULD be a has-been mediocre Texas Governor that would have made a scary president. So, I don't know HOW Ralph Nader sleeps. I put some pretty nasty things in writing to requests for contributions to the Greens after 2000 and I haven't forgotten who helped finance Nader and get him on the ballots-Rove.

On the other hand then we would have had Lieberman for VP, and as bad as Bush2 is, I do believe you get the president you deserve and I shudder to think how it might have been worse. Same thing in 2004, it should have been a CRUSHING defeat even with the not so exciting Kerry. It's not the country, or at least the voting population, that we thought it was.

Glad to see some momentum for Edwards here too. And I think the impact on the country will be huge if Edwards wins, lotsa rockin and rollin and busyness NOT as usual.

At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Iowa and will caucus for Edwards. Been leaning on my wife too. Finally got her to semi-commit. But her car will be in the shop Thursday night, so . . . .hehe.

Seriously, Edwards ground game here is the most thorough I've seen in the 3 caucuses since I've lived here. Told a canvasser 3 months ago that I was for Edwards, my name, address, number, all uploaded into a database. Now I get calls asking if I need a ride, precinct captain's name, etc.

Hope he wins.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Psychomikeo said...

Happy New Year!!!

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm solidly in Edwards camp and will vote for him Feb 5. My fear however is that Hills or Obama will win the nomination and then as things get financially much worse than we can even imagine now every Dem will be kicking their own butts wishing they had voted for Edward's populism. Because Hillbama's corporate Rep lite will not be the philosophy we need to get us out of the mess.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Blue Girl, Red State said...

I can live with any of the Democrats running. I have been a Richardson supporter - although not of the "true believer" variety. I want him somewhere in the executive branch, and figures that the best waty to assure that was to support him early.

But when I step into the voting booth on Super Tuesday, I will likely color the bubble beside John Edwards name.

Happy New Year! And congratulations on the Monkeyfister!

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Caoimhin Laochdha said...

Happy New Year everyone!

Terrific post Howie. Agreed all around.

My wife and I are headed next door to New Hampshire this weekend to canvass for Edwards.

Re: Nadar. Beside the fact that Al Gore DID win Florida, without Ralph Nader he would have won it so convincingly the GOP fraud would not have been possible.

Also, Bush won New Hampshire by 6,000 votes and received its 3 electoral votes to put him two votes over the top at 270. Nader received 22,000 votes in New Hampshire. Without New Hampshire in 2000, Bush loses the presidency even without Florida.

Without Ralph Nader, Alito and Roberts would not be on the bench and what else?


At 7:11 PM, Blogger Columbus said...

Regardless of how he tries to spin it, I don't know how Nader sleeps at night either. He knew full well how close the election was going to be; he knew he was going to be a spoiler. His comment that there was no difference between Republicans and Democrats really came true, right Ralph?

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

The problem is the election should have never been that close. Nader was only a part of the problem.

At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delete my post did you? Afraid of the truth are you?

Are we talking about the John Edwards who got a sleazy underhand $100,000 donation from a lobbyist and registered foreign agent working for the Saudis!

He will never be elected President, he is such a phoney!

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without Ralph Nader 2000 run, George Bush, if remembered at all, would be known as a hapless, sub-mediocre former Texas governor.

Not so fast!

I have a great deal of respect for this site and its writers. I didn't expect to see the Serious Democratic Establishment's talking points here.

The election was stolen. Nader was just a convenient excuse.


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