John Edwards

President of What

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Apparently this John Edwards ad is a blockbuster: Hits the right marks, pounds Edwards' themes, starts the tears flowing like an Usher ballad.


I actually think it's one of the most sleazy, manipulative little political commercials of recent years. "If you're looking for heroes, don't look to me," says Edwards. "Don't look to Elizabeth." No problem! But why shouldn't I?

"We have support. We have health care. We have the American people behind us." There's the first invocation (so far) of the non-existant Edwards personality cult. At the start of his events, Edwards often says something like "a lot of you are asking how Elizabeth is doing. She's fine!" And I hear that as often as not this gets a muted, bemused reaction.

So, think of the working people: "They are the ones that we speak for." Hey, thanks again. "They are the ones that we stand up for." You're too kind. I'm sure America's Montage Farmers are going to sleep easier tonight because John Edwards exercised his larynx and lower body.

"And Elizabeth and I decided in the quiet of a hospital room." Subtle. "After 12 hours of tests and after getting very bad news." Even subtler. His wife has cancer. "We're not going to quietly go away. Instead we're going to go out there and fight for what it is we believe."

You know, Mitt Romney's wife has multiple sclerosis. Obviously that's not going to shorten her life the way Elizabeth Edwards' cancer will shorten hers. But it's the kind of thing that could stir up sympathy and handkerchief-clutching out there in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the Romneys only ever talk about it when asked. There's no TV ad pimping her illness. If Romney has no emotions, than Edwards has only the basest ones. There's not enough Lysol on the eastern seaboard to scrub his slime away.

But I don't want to pick on Edwards. We're starting to see a cleavage between ego-driven and movement-driven presidential campaigns. The most ego-driven Democratic campaign is still Hillary Clinton's. As she showed this week her staff will turn any attack into an unacceptable personal assault. She didn't parselmouth her way out of an immigration question: The mean other candidates piled onto her. Barack Obama's rhetoric is mostly about the average voter; he wants "us" to take back politics, he's one of "us" against Washington. Hillary's campaign is about her being president. Your power depends on whether or not the president thinks you're "invisible," and if you give her your vote she will gratefully remember that you exist.

Clinton's, Obama's and Edwards' messages are illustrative of how they view the presidency. For Clinton it's a restoration of her political machine, the one that was doing such a great job before the-Supreme-Court-handed-George-Bush-the-presidency. For Edwards it's a bully pulpit that he'll use to bully people, taking away Congress's health care until they give it to you, etc. For Obama it's an amorphous inspirational job; it should be more open, more accessible. Less power should flow towards it, more power should flow towards you.

Of course all of these guys look like pikers next to Ron Paul. He seems almost embarrassed that he has to be the vehicle for a movement to dissolve executive power. "I may not be the greatest messenger," goes one of his lines, "but this is the greatest message." His other formulation is stronger.

NEXT: Can the Democrats Own Prosperity?

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  1. We’re starting to see a cleavage between ego-driven and movement-driven presidential campaigns.

    Is it bad karma using “cleavage” in a thread related to breast cancer in a candidate’s family?

    If so, pointing it out like this is probably worse.

  2. Not sure why this thread is invisible, but great post, David.

  3. Not sure why this thread is invisible, but great post, David.

    SNAFU.

  4. I could never be a politician.

    I’d rather cut off my left nut than make an ad like this.

    I just would not be able to bring myself to do it. I feel dirty just reading the description of it.

  5. But I don’t want to pick on Edwards.

    Why not? He’s a scumbag of the first order.

  6. But I don’t want to pick on Edwards.

    Easy
    Just hide the post
    problem solved!

  7. Of course all of these guys look like pikers next to Ron Paul. He seems almost embarrassed that he has to be the vehicle for a movement to dissolve executive power. “I may not be the greatest messenger,” goes one of his lines, “but this is the greatest message.” His other formulation is stronger.

    Perhaps that’s why he’s raised about $1.3 million between Midnight and 11am this morning! The message sure does resonate with the people!

  8. I agree with you that the only person who is not a “piker” is Ron Paul. His wife also had surgery on the campaign trail, but he doesn’t come around with a sob story about it.

    I agree that Romney doesn’t bring up his wife, but I think that’s because he tries to keep up the perfect veneer of a used car salesman, not that he has some type of scruples when it comes to mentioning his wife’s illness.

  9. Romney, scruples … Does not compute. Does not compute.

  10. What is the ecological impact of that slime trail John Edwards leaves behind wherever he goes?

  11. Edwards is about to go nuclear on Hillary the same way Gephardt went batshit over Dean in 2004. Its going to be interesting.

  12. Apparently this John Edwards ad is a blockbuster: Hits the right marks, pounds Edwards’ themes, starts the tears flowing like an Usher ballad.

    is not inconsistent with

    it’s one of the most sleazy, manipulative little political commercials of recent years.

    Just sayin’.

  13. I agree that Romney doesn’t bring up his wife, but I think that’s because he tries to keep up the perfect veneer of a used car salesman, not that he has some type of scruples when it comes to mentioning his wife’s illness.

    I disagree. It is hard for non-Mormons to grasp how important family life is to Mormons. Mitt is trying to protect his wife by not politicizing her illness, since that would subject her to personal attacks about her character. Mitt believes that he and his wife and his children have been “sealed” for “time and all eternity”, and thus nothing in this vanishingly brief span of mortality is worth jeopardizing those eternal relationship. You may think Mitt’s theology is whacked out and loopy, but he is genuinely being a stand-up guy on this issue due to sincerely and deeply held religious beliefs.

  14. Well, no, you actually don’t know if that is why Mitt is not mentioning his wife. You only know that he is not mentioning his wife. That’s all.

  15. I have admit, I can’t easily come up with a sleazy reason not to pull one’s family into one’s campaign. If he’s deliberately protecting them, I can only give him credit. Not a vote, but credit.

  16. “For Obama it’s an amorphous inspirational job; it should be more open, more accessible. Less power should flow towards it, more power should flow towards you.”

    What total bullshit. That anyone can even believe this is what Obama claims to be about is pathetic to the Nth degree.

  17. I liked the huge number of farmers in the ad. 2% of people in the country, 90% of “working people.”

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