Wednesday, January 30, 2008

John Edwards Exits

Caption: John Edwards speaks to reporters in New Orleans after announcing his candidacy for president, December 28, 2006.

Image credit: the Edwards campaign

And then there were none ...

John Edwards announced his withdrawal from the Presidential race today:

I began my presidential campaign here to remind the country that we, as citizens and as a government, have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters. We must do better, if we want to live up to the great promise of this country that we all love so much.


Today, I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency.

Remarks Of John Edwards Today In New Orleans

As was the case with Chris Dodd, Americans didn't want to pay attention to Edwards. He was white, male, and a trial lawyer, and therefore, it seems, not worth considering. So much nonsense has been written about Edwards, both by the press and by the lefty blogs that ought to have supported him, or at least given him a fair hearing, that it's a wonder he made it as far as he did.

So now we're left with a candidate with no concrete positions on anything, and another who only takes them when she absolutely has to. This, apparently, is what America wants - candidates who won't take a stand. It clearly doesn't want a leader as President. It's taken a pass on two of them. Most probably had the sense not to try in the first place.

Walter Shapiro wrote for Salon:

Despite unverified rumors (vehemently denied by those close to Edwards) that promises of future Cabinet posts like attorney general had been floated, Edwards requested only one thing when he telephoned Obama and Hillary Clinton Tuesday night to confide that he was considering withdrawing before the Feb. 5 primaries. What Edwards asked for and received was a commitment from his erstwhile rivals that they make the eradication of poverty a central theme in their campaigns.

John Edwards Exits With Honor

I can't imagine Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama doing such a thing. That's particularly true after their performances in South Carolina last week. Edwards was the one reminding them what this campaign is really about, and that it shouldn't be about the candidates themselves.

Edwards announced the end of his candidacy in the same place he announced its beginning - in the lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. That area, still not recovered from the damage done by Hurricane Katrina more than two years ago, provided a hint as to his future direction:

We came here to the Lower Ninth Ward to rebuild. And we're going to rebuild today and work today, and we will continue to come back. We will never forget the heartache and we'll always be here to bring them hope, so that someday, one day, the trumpets will sound in Musicians' Village, where we are today, play loud across Lake Ponchartrain, so that working people can come marching in and those steps once again can lead to a family living out the dream in America.

Remarks Of John Edwards Today In New Orleans

That's what he was doing before he ran for office. It's almost certainly at least a part of what he'll do now.

So often in America, we seem to be obsessed about looks and superficiality and so uninterested in finding out the truth of things. That's the thought I'll take away from this failed candidacy - that America once again chose appearance over substance, and the easy over the difficult.

We really do get the government we deserve.

UPDATE (Jan. 31): Christy Hardin Smith gets the last word:

With John Edwards dropping out of the Democratic presidential race, we are losing a fierce and committed voice for change and for justice. I, for one, feel that loss like an ache.


The best honor that you can give to a fighter like John Edwards is to keep on fighting -- for equality, for justice, for fairness, and for the little guy in all of us. Someone has to stand up for the folks who feel left behind, who need a hand back up and onto their feet, who need some encouragement to take that next step forward into a brighter future.

The Heart Of The Democratic Party

So say we all.

UPDATE 2 (Feb. 1): Commenter G-Natural refered to an interesting commentary on Edwards' exit by Robert A. Kezelis.


G-Natural said...

Robert Kezelis had what I thought was an appropriate elegy for Edwards on Capital Hill Blue:

I really wish he had stayed on at least through Super Tuesday. Polls have been off-prediction throughout the race: often because a lot of people make up their minds only at the last minute. We'll never know what difference it would have made.

And once again, a handful of states pick the candidates that the other 46 will have to "choose" from. And these are the dispiriting "options" we have. What a system. Now we can look forward to the MSM-appointed presidency of John 'Endless War' McCain aka the "moderate", "truth-telling" one. Ugh.

With Edwards out, there's no one to vote for.

Anonymous said...

Edwards displayed compassion, integrity and class throughout. And I'm still voting for him in the WA State caucus and primary.


Cujo359 said...

I wish he'd stayed on through Super Tuesday, as well, G-Natural. I wish he'd stayed on through the convention, in fact. Unfortunately, even though he might have been the guy who could hand the nomination to one candidate or the other, I doubt he would have been able to get a deal that would have been worth that effort. He wasn't running so he could have a job, and that's the only sort of promise the other two candidates could have kept.

Everyone has to decide when something's no longer worth the effort, and I think John and Elizabeth reached that point last weekend.

I've been debating whether to bother in the caucuses, shoephone. My district doesn't even have an Edwards coordinator, so he's not likely to have a presence here. I suppose I can go and declare for Edwards and then leave, but it's hard to see what else there is to do at this point.