Despite copping Bill Clinton's rhetorical thumb-jab and as much of the Man from Hope mythology as copyright law allows, John Edwards is no Bill Clinton. Clinton, for all his flaws and pathologies, was not a straight-ticket liberal. And John Edwards is.
Edwards' speech stacked up the gifts a Kerry administration would bestow upon Americans like the final, desperate appeal of an infomercial.
"We'll give you the tax credit, free health care, an official college degree (suitable for framing), the juicer, the peeler, the sander, and the anal wand! Now what would you pay?"
Contrast that with the Clinton construction of promising people "the tools and conditions to make the most of their lives." Subtle, with plenty of wiggle room, yes, but with Clinton at least you do not immediately wonder who is going to pay for all the stuff. And most Americans really do not have a continental entitlement mindset, not until they reach 65 at least.
It took three tries, but Clinton did sign a welfare reform package that liberals called "legislation which repeals the 60 year old social safety net for the poor." And blood would fill the streets.
So when Edwards says a Kerry administration would "finish the job on welfare reform," I think he means finish off welfare reform.
Kerry-Edwards can get away with telling a Democratic convention audience that two-percent of America can pay for all the Euro-state goodies. (A claim which, incidentally, is spooking the hell out of Wall St., where traders actually think the rest of America will buy this line.)
But it sets up a perfect pitch for the GOP to knock out of the park, as they have done on tax issues for 20 years now.