Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Slobber And Spittle Endorses John Edwards

[Why is this man smiling? He's won the prestigious SnS Presidential endorsement. A printout of this endorsement, plus $1.25 will entitle the awardee to a refillable coffee at Denny's near you. And they'll let you keep the printout, too. NOTE: Exact monetary value of this prize varies from location to location.]

Regular readers of this blog will know that I've spoken most favorably of two Presidential candidates, Chris Dodd and John Edwards. Hillary Clinton has a mixed record here, and Barack Obama was very lucky to receive any praise at all. So, it's probably no surprise that this highly coveted endorsement[/SNARK] came down to those first two.

The excesses and foolhardiness of the Bush Administration have left many problems for the next Presidential administration to deal with. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the most visible, but they're not the only ones. In fact, as bad as things look on those two fronts at the moment, they pale in significance to this country when compared to the constitutional crises, increasing economic insecurity, and deterioration that this government's incompetence have caused at home. Our government has decided that spying on its citizens is perfectly OK, that kidnapping and torturing both its own citizens and foreigners is acceptable, and that all those laws that were put in place to limit government power are just advice that can be ignored at any time. The Bush Administration have violated at least four laws that are specifically designed to limit government power, and yet they'll probably get away with it if Nancy Pelosi and the rest of Congress continue to shirk their responsibilities in that matter.

Chris Dodd has so far been the only one of the candidates to stand up to any of this in a meaningful way. Last month, he dug in his heels, bucking his own majority leader in order to stop the awful FISA bill that was to be considered in the Senate. While Joe Biden offered immediate, unequivocal support for Dodd, the other two candidates who are sitting U.S. Senators, Obama and Clinton, had to be begged and cajoled by their supposed base to do anything at all. That stand netted Dodd lots of positive coverage, both here and at most progressive blogs. That might have earned him the SnS endorsement, but he has an unfortunate legislative record in other areas.

Dodd has some rather close ties with some of the more egregious financial industries in this country, and the insurance industry in particular. His support of the recent "Class Action Fairness Act" (CAFA), which despite what its name says actually decreases the fairness of class action suits brought against negligent companies, is one of the more recent examples of how beholden he can be to them. His record is by no means egregious, but it certainly is troubling.

The main reason he didn't get the endorsement, though, is that so far he hasn't caught on with the voters. Pollster, when it bothers to rate his popularity at all, estimates it at less than one percent.

Edwards, at least in his public statements is unequivocal in his support of our civil rights:

We are not the country of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo. We are not the country of secret surveillance and government behind closed doors. We are Americans, and we're better than that.

While this statement alone could be considered empty rhetoric, reading his positions on specific civil rights problems that have presented themselves in the last few years shows a consistent pattern of respect for human rights. Contrast this with Hillary Clinton, who when asked about the question of what power grabs by the Bush Administration she would roll back as President, replied:

I will conduct a very serious review of how the Bush-Cheney administration has grabbed power. Everywhere we look, we see that. They have ignored checks and balances, they have disregarded the separation of powers, they have this theory of the so-called unitary executive and then Vice President Cheney has a whole different theory about how he's a fourth branch of government.

Would a President Clinton Cede Powers?

[Note: That's a second hand quote by a Washington Post editorial. In a quick search, I was unable to find the original.]

Wasn't Senator Clinton present during all those power grabs? What's there to study? I'd think it would be plainly obvious what needed to be done by now, no matter what one's position about the relative importance of civil liberties and safety.

Edwards has been equally unequivocal about the need to redress the growing economic imbalances between the rich and the rest of us. As the New York Times observes:

Whatever their differences with Mr. Edwards, both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have moved toward him on several issues, like health care and trade. In all three Democratic campaigns, advisers say they believe that economic anxiety has made voters more open to government action than they once were.

“People say, ‘How do you know this is going to resonate?’” said Leo Hindery Jr., a former chief executive of media and communications companies, who is Mr. Edwards’s senior economic adviser. “And the answer is, ‘It’s a different world.’”

Two Candidates, Two Fortunes, Two Distinct Views of Wealth

This NYT article contrasts the fortunes and views of Mitt Romney and Edwards. Both became rich in their previous careers. The difference between them, if one reads between the lines, is that Romney doesn't believe in "the two Americas" that Edwards talked about in 2004. The reason, if you read that article carefully, is that Romney's never been to the other America that most of us live in or have lived in at some point in our lives. Edwards has.

Edwards is a guy who did what we all supposedly can do in this country - brought himself up by his own bootstraps. That he did so but is still clearly mindful of the people he grew up with is clearly irritating to the "rugged individualists", like Romney, who never really had to worry about paying for their medical care, or getting their kids through college, or just whether to heat their homes or feed themselves. Those of us who have know perfectly well that there are two Americas. To quote from the NYT article again:

“Some people come from nothing to being wildly successful and their response is, ‘I did this on my own,’” Mr. Edwards said in an interview. “I came to a different conclusion. I believe that I did work hard, and I think people should work hard, but I think my country was there for me every step of the way.”

Today, he added, “the problem is all the economic growth is going to a very small group of people.”

Two Candidates, Two Fortunes, Two Distinct Views of Wealth

While I don't find it entirely satisfactory, Edwards' health care plan is more progressive than Clinton's and more complete than Obama's. As such, I'd say he's ahead on that issue, too. Edwards at least allows for the idea of single payer somewhere down the road, and presents a real alternative for people who don't have the means to afford their own. Clinton's doesn't even mention the concept, as far as I can see, and while it does offer means-testing, the details of that plan, which could affect many of us seeking such relief, are sorely lacking.

While he certainly doesn't have the foreign policy cred of a Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, or even Hillary Clinton, Edwards' positions on Iraq and Afghanistan strike me as both thoughtful and realistic. Frankly, anyone whose opinion about what we should do next hasn't changed probably hasn't been paying attention. Here's an excerpt from a recent NYT interview of Edwards:

Q. How did you go from a plan that emphasized the gradual reduction of forces and training of Iraqi forces to a plan that calls for removing all of the forces within ten months?

A. Because it is now two years later. At that point, what I was suggesting was, again let me go back to the bigger picture. The question from my perspective is that I have never believed that there was a military solution in Iraq, don't believe it today. I think the issue is how do you maximize the chances of achieving a political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia because I think that political reconciliation is the foundation for any long-term stability in Iraq. They have now, at this moment, had well over four and a half years to make some serious progress toward a political solution. They have not done it, and so what we have been doing has not worked. It clearly has not worked. And my view is that we need to shift the responsibility to them, make it clear that we are leaving. That is where the eight to ten brigades come from. Then, as aggressively as can reasonably be achieved, to continue a steady redeployment until all combat troops are out in roughly nine to ten months. Now I am not married to that specific timetable. If my military leadership came to me and said we need another month or some additional time, I would certainly take that into consideration what they are saying. But it is my job as commander in chief to set the policy parameters, which is exactly what I was doing.

Interview with John Edwards

To quote General George Patton on the subject of delegation: Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. Of course, it helps if, as in Patton's case, you have a pretty good idea what is possible. Edwards seems to understand this.

The bottom line, though, is that our domestic problems dwarf the foreign ones at the moment. There are days when the America I see around me doesn't feel like America anymore. It feels like some science-fiction doppleganger America where the facade of freedom exists but underneath is only fear and exploitation. If we're going to return to the America that values freedom and opportunity both here and abroad, I think John Edwards is our best choice.

NOTE: This endorsement in no way means that SnS will become a cheerleading site for Edwards. I'm not a good partisan and never have been. If I think someone's screwed up, I say so. That won't change. It also doesn't mean I'm going to be extra critical of other candidates. When they do something right, they deserve praise. If anything, the reverse is true. Edwards gets the endorsement because he earned more praise than the others. Hey, I even praised President Bush when he managed to do something right.


Taylor Marsh said...

Anybody who has followed the Edwards campaign can appreciate your endorsement. On policy, he's as good as we've got.

Anonymous said...

You have been very detailed in your posts on policies of the candidates, especially WRT health care and Iraq. Edwards' plans are, to me, clearly superior to the others'. And of course, his fight to protect the dwindling middle class has been dismissed as "class warfare" by the MSM, a sure sign that he is considered a threat to their corporate-controlled existence.

Therefore, I would take Taylor's statement one step further: Edwards is not only the best on policy, he's ready to fight for what's right and won't triangulate or negotiate with the ones he's fighting (insurance companies, Big Pharma, and corporations). That's the difference between him and the other candidates.

I'm so tired of the triangulators. They suck the life blood out of the Democratic party.


Cujo359 said...

I agree with that assessment, shoephone. Everyone talks about what a fighter Clinton is, but what is she fighting for? I have few doubts about where Edwards would try to lead us, and there's a lot of fight in him, too.

Anyway, let's hope that Edwards gets that idea across. As much as the news ignores him except to insult him, that's going to be hard.

Susan said...

Thanks for a good endorsement. I wish voters could better appreciate him.

Cujo359 said...

You're welcome, Susan.

Edwards still seems to be the favorite on the Internet. Hopefully, more folks will read about him and think.