Liberal reporter Garance Franke-Ruta has the best take on why John Edwards' Poverty Tour '07 isn't being taken seriously—and she does it all without the words "hair" or "cut" or "four hundred dollars."
[I]n his effort to renew the poverty agenda and become a political leader in the fight against it, Edwards has run up against a critical difference between Kennedy's era and our own: Kennedy's travels took place at a time of white male electoral exclusivity and came on the heels of more than a decade of agitation by a daring, outsider-driven civil rights movement.
Today, minorities and women have far greater access to electoral office and, while still underrepresented, one of each is running for president alongside Edwards. Meanwhile, the outsider civil rights movement has given way to a generation that looks to elected minority officials for leadership on questions of social justice and a less combustible form of identity-based representation. As the nobility and controversy of the civil rights era gave way to the controversy without nobility of the identity politics era, politicians learned to shy away from genuine challenges to the social order while simultaneously seeking to claim the moral mantle of historical daring. Today's goal, as Edwards' tour shows, is to be noble without being in the least controversial.
That nails the weirdness of the whole adventure and the sense of arrogance Edwards is giving off. Another factor Edwards is missing: RFK was touring impoverished communities after years of Kennedy-Johnson policies. He was running against his fellow Democrats with that combination of compassion and arrogance that Kennedy was a master of. Edwards' tour is an anti-Bush junket, which isn't that interesting in the year 2007.
That and his policy solutions are just… odd. He proposed a 50,000-man federal work program in New Orleans as if there's a shortage of constuction business in the city. He slams lending agencies for "raping families" in poor neighborhoods. As Steve Sailer notices, he's proposing a new surge of school integration with federal grants paying for busing.
How clueless do you have to be to try to run for President—as a purported populist—as the Busing Candidate?
This isn't just a personal failing of Edwards—it reflects how out of touch our ruling class has become. It's not merely how rich they are—the Roosevelts, after all, were extremely rich—but how political correctness has dumbed them down.