Shrum on Edwards

One of the side benefits of being a prominent blogger is that I receive a free copy of virtually every politically related book written by a Democrat or a progressive. Typically, my extensive writing demands keep me from reading many of these books. However, today's excerpt of Bob Shrum's new book in Time has piqued my interest enough to consider reading the whole thing:
That fall, as a vote loomed on the resolution giving Bush authority to go to war, Edwards convened a circle of advisers in his family room in Washington to discuss his decision. He was skeptical, even exercised about the idea of voting yes. Elizabeth was a forceful no. She didn't trust anything the Bush administration was saying. But the consensus view from both the foreign policy experts and the political operatives was that even though Edwards was on the Intelligence Committee, he was too junior in the Senate; he didn't have the credibility to vote against the resolution. To my continuing regret, I said he had to be for it. As I listened to this, I watched Edwards's face; he didn't like where he was being pushed to go. The process violated a principle I'd learned long before--candidates have to trust their own deeply felt instincts. It's the best way to live with defeat if it comes, and probably the best way to win.

The meeting we held in the Edwardses' family room did him a disservice; of course, he was the candidate and if he really was against the war, it was up to him to stand his ground. He didn't. If he had, it almost certainly would have been Edwards and not Dean who emerged early on as the antiwar candidate. But Edwards didn't want to look "liberal" and out of the mainstream; he was, after all, the southern candidate and thought of himself as Clintonesque. He valued the advice and prized the support of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. I had my own concerns: If he took the antiwar route, I knew I would have been characterized as a malign force moving him to the left--which wasn't true, although I wish it had been given that I now regard the Iraq invasion as one of the great mistakes in the history of U.S. foreign policy.
It is hard to know how much of this is accurate, and how much of it is Shrum trying to intuit the thoughts of others. However, leaving aside what these two paragraphs say about John Edwards for a moment, this passage seems to perfectly sum up a certain type of loser beltway mentality that has been infecting Democrats for too long. On the one hand, there was Elizabeth Edwards, who was rightly skeptical of anything the Bush administration was trying to sell. On the other hand there was a cadre of foreign policy "experts" and professional political operatives who conceptualized the decision to go to war in Iraq not in terms of whether or not it was a good foreign policy decision, but rather in whether or not opposing the war would make someone look too left-wing, and whether or not someone was in Congress long enough to have the credibility to combat that charge. This is truly a view through the looking glass, where the Democratic political establishment is playing by its own set of made up rules that bear no resemblance to the way the public actually makes political decisions. A generally disengaged, non-ideological electorate does not vote with a crude, linear, ideological spectrum in mind, nor does it consider how long someone has served in the Senate as in anyway relevant to what that person thinks about war in Iraq. And yet, these are the insane rules we have constructed for ourselves.

Returning to Edwards for a moment, I don't actually find this passage to be a particularly damning characterization of his political instincts or lack of leadership. Rather, I think is shows how his decision to originally support the war in Iraq probably served as a useful object lesson for a politician still trying to find his comfort zone. In 2002-2003, against his own instincts, against the advice of his wife, and against what he had seen as a member of the Intelligence Committee, Edwards listened instead to the contorted rationalizations of the Democratic establishment. Unsurprisingly, that establishment was also entirely wrong about the Iraq war, which has indeed become one of the biggest mistakes this country has made in decades. It is difficult to imagine a better way to learn to trust yourself then the catastrophic results of not trusting yourself on Iraq. Considering the many ways that Edwards has since bucked that same establishment--not firing McEwan and Marcotte, being the first to refuse a Fox News debate, publicly apologizing for his vote on Iraq, developing a populist, anti-corporate message--my belief is that Edwards learned from his past misplacement of trust in the Democratic establishment and the DLC, and has decided instead to trust his own, far more progressive instincts. For a politician who has been in the game for less than a decade, such a transformation seems entirely believable and genuine.

Tags: Bob Shrum, Iraq, John Edwards, President 2008 (all tags)

Comments

93 Comments

And consider that Edwards spent $0 on polling...

...in the first quarter this year.

He's trusting his instincts (and no doubt Elizabeth's as well), and they're proving to be quite good.

by MeanBoneII 2007-05-31 09:30AM | 0 recs
another interpretation

is that Shrum is an idiot and he and his advisors should stay away from all Democrats

by TarHeel 2007-05-31 09:33AM | 0 recs
Where's Stoller?

Speaking of important rejection of conventional, consultant-driven policies, Edwards is open to a non-agression pact with Iran.

This is huge. Stoller's got to get on it.

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Story?id =2905550&page=1

by david mizner 2007-05-31 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Where's Stoller?

I'm gonna quote it at length, it's so goddamn good:

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a group of New Hampshire voters Saturday that he would consider pursuing a nonaggression pact between the United States and Iran.

Edwards' statement came in answer to a voter's question at a house party in Nashua on Saturday morning. Asked about it later in an interview with ABC News, Edwards confirmed that he views such a treaty -- in which the United States would promise not to attack Iran -- as "a possibility down the road."But he emphasized that the Iranian government would first have to change its behavior in several areas.

"I wouldn't give away anything until it became clear what the intent of Iran was, that they've given up any nuclear ambition, that they would no longer sponsor Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations," Edwards told ABC News, in an interview to be broadcast on "Nightline" Monday night. "So there would be huge jumps and these things would all have to be verifiable. We'd have to be certain that they were occurring in order to get to that stage. But I think we would consider all of our relations on the table."

Edwards' willingness to pursue a nonaggression pact with the Iranian government could put him at odds not just with President Bush, but also with his Democratic rivals, none of whom has gone as far in advocating an alternative to the administration's increasingly confrontational stance toward Tehran. But Edwards' statement could win him support of many Democratic primary voters, who are deeply mistrustful of the president's policies and motives and deeply concerned about the possibility of another war in the Middle East.

In the "Nightline" interview, Edwards also specifically refused to say whether, as president, he would be willing to use military force to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

"I wouldn't make that decision. It would be a foolish thing for the president to say in advance what they would do," Edwards said. "And under no circumstances should the president of the United States ever take anything off the table, but the issue of threats and talking about the use of force is a foolish thing to do. This idea of preemptive strike that came out of the Bush administration I think is also completely unnecessary.

by david mizner 2007-05-31 10:55AM | 0 recs
Apparently

it's an old story. I saw it in Kos diary and got excited--but why did I never heard about this till now?

It's important.

by david mizner 2007-05-31 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Where's Stoller?

Let the man have his holiday. Just link to this again if he brings up the old chestnut about leaving nothing off the table again.

by Englishlefty 2007-05-31 02:29PM | 0 recs
actually kind of funny

the first paragraph which is more fact based paints a flattering picture of Edwards.

the second paragraph is strictly Shurm's clairvoyance of what shrum thinks is going on in Edwards' head.

So on the sum of the first two paragraphs Edwards' judgment is better if he keeps people like shurm and the DC insiders far far away from him

by TarHeel 2007-05-31 09:32AM | 0 recs
This is one of the best

posts I've read about Edwards. He learned the hard way to trust his progressive, populist instincts. Indeed, during the first debate, he said his bad vote on Iraq taught him to trust his own judgment.

And he looks and sounds like a man at peace--much more comfortable than he was in 2002-2003, when he hadn't yet found his own voice.

by david mizner 2007-05-31 09:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

IMO, Edwards looks to the Netroots to gauge what his position on the issues should be. If this is true, how is he any different thean Dubya, vis-a-vis the Neocon/Evangelical cabal? The man seems to be taking ALL of his cues from our favorite(MYDD, Kos, FDL, MoveOn) bloggers.

by ND1979 2007-05-31 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

So is Bowers James Dobson or Wolfie?

by david mizner 2007-05-31 09:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards
David,
That's a good one!!   ;-)
by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-05-31 09:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

I'd say Bowers is Dobson and Stoller is Wolfowitz. Of course I am joking, but the amount of pure ideological cant in the blogosphere is astounding sometimes. Hiding behind your blue jersey is just as disingenous and as dangerous a basis for policy as hiding behind a red one. I agree that Edwards has simply recognized that the only available constituency this time around is the netroots, and has made an aggressive push to court that constituency. Nothing wrong with that, but let's call a spade a spade. This guy was a huge DLC'er and then tried to be the transformative candidate. He is carving out the space available to him, but simply because he now gives us what we want is not enough to trust him.

by Ozymandias 2007-05-31 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

What evidence is there that eh was a huge DLCer?  Absolutely none.  He had associations with them, but aside from the war, his voting record doesn't really mesh with their positions.  Edwards has been largely consistent aside from the war.

by jallen 2007-05-31 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards
Please don't call me names. :)
by Chris Bowers 2007-05-31 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

You could do worse than Dobson.

by Ozymandias 2007-05-31 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Yeah, but it's getting harder now that Falwell's gone.

by Englishlefty 2007-05-31 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

John Edwards rejects the establishment consultants and it shows in his campaign.

by littafi 2007-05-31 09:41AM | 0 recs
Will other candidates...

be able to buck the beltway mentality of the Democratic Establishment that Edwards has broken free from?

So far, I am not optimistic.

by citizen53 2007-05-31 09:47AM | 0 recs
I second, or seventh Chris and above comments NM

by Reptile 2007-05-31 09:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

With all of its very sound warnings on the limits a candidate should set in taking advice...this story is none the lesss an illustration of something Edwards can do that Bush cannot: weigh diverse advisors and advice.   It bodes well for the prospect of an Edwards cabinet being more than a collection of puppet masters and yes men.

by greensmile 2007-05-31 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

This is silly. Who cares about who is giving input if the judgments are poor?

by Ozymandias 2007-05-31 10:02AM | 0 recs
Easy on Edwards, Hard on Others

I think it's a perfectly rational explanation and probably fair to Edwards.  What frustrates me is the degree to which this blog and others are so unfair to others.

Here we have Edwards, who apparently voted for a war against his better instincts.  He then spoke out forcefully in support of his decision for the 2 subsequent years (I remember him in the primaries saying he did the right thing with his vote over and over and over).

And then there is a candidate like Obama, who saw all the polls and was given all the advice to support the war in 2002 in order to get into the Senate - and still spoke out against it.  

But Obama gets bashed on a regular basis around here.  Edwards has received almost nothing but fawning coverage.  

I have nothing against Edwards and I'm not in favor of any one candidate yet, but I find the "coverage" of candidates here frequently intellectually dishonest.  Going back into history and finding a way to rationalize Edwards' error is fine.  But that same benefit of the doubt needs to be given to others.

by dansac 2007-05-31 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Easy on Edwards, Hard on Others

I think  you have a point there, but it goes back to their current attitudes.  Obama is frequently critiqued for being too cautious now, whereas that was Edwards problem earlier.  Bowers is responding to a positive shift to inform Edward's likely future actions.

by juls 2007-05-31 10:14AM | 0 recs
"Almost nothing"

Except for Stoller's endlessly repeated view that he's insincere.

by Drew 2007-05-31 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Easy on Edwards, Hard on Others

Puh-Leeze. Spare us the "Poor Downtrodden Obama" routine. He's currently leading, so I don't see how a post that's positive for Edwards is some slight against Obama or the rest.

And, I've seen nothing else on here that is malicious or unfair to any of the other candidates, Obama included. In fact, particularly Obama since the netroots are generally split between the two, from what I can tell.

You can call it "rationalizing" Edwards' vote if you want, but the fact is that this exchange is a window into Edwards' thinking and judgment from the perspective of someone other than Edwards, his wife, or immediate coterie of supporters. It also adds to the credibility of Edwards' apology for his war vote. I'm sorry that none of those things matter to you, but for those of us still ont he fence and undecided about who is the best candidate for our party for president of the USA, it does matter to consider how this particular snippet reflects on Edwards' instincts and judgment and the honesty of his apology, the credibility with which we should treat his progressive conversion since 2004, etc.

Yes, I know it neutralizes to some extent the Iraq War Vote Distinction between Edwards and Obama, and that you, as an Obama supporter, might not like that. But, tough cookies; such is politics.

by AmericanJedi 2007-05-31 10:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Easy on Edwards, Hard on Others

Nice try - neutralizing the difference between someone who voted for a war and then spoke out in its favor for two more years vs. someone who opposed it from the beginning?  Hardly.  

Adding to the credibility of Edwards' apology?  If he came out and said I voted in favor of it for political purposes instead of following my instincts and judgement, then THAT would add to the credibility.  

by dansac 2007-05-31 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Easy on Edwards, Hard on Others

And then Obama joined the senate and stopped talking about being against the war and started funding it.  even this year he voted for the Gregg amendment.  Curiously he very quietly voted against the funding now which is in contradiction to his vote on the Gregg amendment.  If that is not political calculation I don't know what is.  However he really has not explained his votes in the senate other than repeating RW points about supporting our troops.

They both have changed perspectives but I like the direction of Edwards.

by pioneer111 2007-05-31 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Easy on Edwards, Hard on Others

But Obama gets bashed on a regular basis around here.  Edwards has received almost nothing but fawning coverage.  

Do we kill the fatted calf for the son who stuck by our side and worked hard or for the prodigal who has returned to us?

It's just human nature.  Maybe it's not such a good way to pick a president.

by Brian Watkins 2007-05-31 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Easy on Edwards, Hard on Others

I'd like to second Brian Watkin's comment and also note that it's not 2003 anymore. Since then Edwards has done things that have made people more favourable to him, prompting them to be prepared to forgive past mistakes. Obama hasn't made a serious mistake per se, but the fact that he hasn't been at the forefront of as many things as Edwards has led to the perspective that he's too cautious. Of course, Edwards has a reason to lead and Obama has a reason not to make himself into a target, but reason and perception are not absolutely connected.

by Englishlefty 2007-05-31 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Easy on Edwards, Hard on Others

Obama is the darling of the media and as such seeks to please them everytime he opens his mouth.  He is too cautious because he is afraid to bite the hand that feeds him. Edwards is a man who says what he feels.  Therefore, he gets no airtime at all.  What we get is the horserace between Hillary and Obama.  But if you check out the polls -- Edwards is moving up while Obama is stationary.

by changehorses08 2007-05-31 10:29PM | 0 recs
Both Mcarthy and McGovern voted for

the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, and in later years became great crusaders against the war.

Even RFK supported the war at first.

by Cyt 2007-05-31 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Both Mcarthy and McGovern voted for

NO ONE IS RFK!

by danIA 2007-05-31 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Both Mcarthy and McGovern voted for

Except RFK JR, technically.

But if you look at RFK's early career, he wasn't exactly RFK, as he's known today, until '66 or '67.

by MassEyesandEars 2007-05-31 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Both Mcarthy and McGovern voted for

Amen to that bro--there is only one Bobby.  

by changehorses08 2007-05-31 10:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

I don't think there is any way this admissin can be spun as a positive for Edwards, and I don't understand why people are bending over backwards to justify it as such. Did anyone really think the process leading to his vote for war went any differently than this? Of course Edwards, like Kerry and Clinton, was very skeptical of the war, but they all thought they had to vote for the resolution because to do otherwise would invite an unwanted amount of scrutiny. Does this mean they should be commended for knowing in their heart of hearts that this war was wrong?

I know that Edwards is thought to be freed from this type of grip, and that we're now suppossed to be able to trust him to speak his mind, but I've yet to see him truly lead on any issue. He is now, as he did then, simply responding to obvious political opportunities and eschewing speaking truth about uncomfortable realities.  

by Ozymandias 2007-05-31 10:00AM | 0 recs
100000% Agree

Sometimes I feel like the crazy man in the sane house, but I honestly feel like I see something everyone else doesn't in Edwards, and it's not good.

"bending over backwards" captured this perfectly - so many are so blindly committed with him that any evidence that contradicts their love for him needs to be spun in a way that actually re-affirms it.

Nobody's perfect.  I don't think Edwards should be crucified for this.  But other candidates get crucified for much less on this site and with Edwards it somehow proves his greatness.

by dansac 2007-05-31 10:07AM | 0 recs
I disagree...

Shrum's comments illustrate clearly that the Edwards today is taking the stands he is because that's what he believes...in other words, his transformation is genuine rather than political expediency.

It's perfectly fair to point out that Edwards positions are ALSO politically savvy, as the obvious opening in the Democratic field is on the left.  But it's clear that the "I was wrong" story isn't just calculation...it's what he believes.

by rashomon 2007-05-31 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree...

I am skeptical that the transformation to  "what he believes in" is still based on what is politically expedient. My skepticism is exacerbated by his posture that this transformation somehow makes him more authentic. He is still doing what is politically expedient. I appreciate some degree of populism, but for example, it is terribly disingenuous for Edwards to pose as an anti-trader given his historical support for trade pacts. It just seems like he is constantly chasing what is expedient.

I would hope the netroots was savvy enough to see through such obvious pandering. Nothing wrong with pandering, and I'm glad the netroots is powerful enough to engender pandering, but there is a little bit of a Mitt Romney syndrome here. It seems silly to many that Romney is now taking as a legit conservative candidate by many conservative activists. I'm sure many conservative activsists say the same thing about Edwards and the netroots.  

by Ozymandias 2007-05-31 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree...

I'm definitely getting the same vibe as you, to some degree. I'm not sure about the Romney comparison, simply because Romney's opinion-changing seems to be to appear as if he walks the conservative line. Whereas Edwards I get more of a feeling that he's simply supporting what most Americans are supporting, not necessarily the left, Progressives, etc.

His vote for the war was simply for appearance, how do I know this isn't the same thing, simply with a different appearance?

by tigerintehsenate 2007-05-31 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree...

Its called the ability to change your mind.  Some thing that Bush cannot do -- cause you have to have a mind in order to change it.

by changehorses08 2007-05-31 10:32PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree...

You can't say he used to support trade pacts.  He voted against most of those that came up when he was in the Senate, particularly as time went on, his opposition to them appears to have grown.

by jallen 2007-05-31 12:59PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree...

What about Obama's transformation.  He was against the war and then was for funding it.  He voted against the funding this last week but didn't really stand up and say so like Dodd did.

I see growing political expediency in Obama, whereas I see more going for the truth with Edwards these days.  He has nothing more to lose so he might as well tell the truth.  Obama has become the cautious beltway politician.

by pioneer111 2007-05-31 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree...

You got it--Obama is a player.  The thing is Democrats see it and are leary of him because of it.

by changehorses08 2007-05-31 10:34PM | 0 recs
A real transformation and politically savvy

Bowers' analysis is a good one. Edwards' backs story which includes his decision to become a trial lawyer and then to be an advocate for the powerless against the powerful shows a man of principle and justice.  He went against all his instincts on this vote.  But he's someone that never makes the same mistake twice.  To trust your own heart and mind is a sign of maturity.  With six years of high school mentality running things, I long for a real grown up.  The way he handled Elizabeth's health and the way the two of them stood in the garden telling us that they would not cower in a corner, gave me my first hope in a long time that we had found two real grown up people who would fight for us and handle decisions in a tough,but thoughtful way.

by Feral Cat 2007-05-31 11:48AM | 0 recs
Re: A real transformation and politically savvy

I don't care how you slice it.  It was a vote for war.  It was a political decision when a moral one was called for.

by aiko 2007-05-31 12:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Did anyone really think the process leading to his vote for war went any differently than this?

No, the run-down of the script was pretty much what I suspected.

Of course Edwards, like Kerry and Clinton, was very skeptical of the war, but they all thought they had to vote for the resolution because to do otherwise would invite an unwanted amount of scrutiny. Does this mean they should be commended for knowing in their heart of hearts that this war was wrong?

No, but it does mean that Edwards, at least, out of those three, evidently DOES still have a soul kicking around in there somewhere, that they still have some semblance of being able to judge right and wrong, even if they didn't have the courage of their convictions to follow that judgment at the time. It shows that Edwards vote wasn't the result of, for example, being completely corrupted by campaign contributions or other secret dealings with the oil industry, but, rather, was simply a case of being ill-advised by an idiot like Shrum. And, it also shows that Edwards isn't just a soulless cynical prick, so he's already a vast improvement over the current occupant of the White House on that count alone.

by AmericanJedi 2007-05-31 10:44AM | 0 recs
Kerry too

He has been excellent since 2004. Better late than never...

by Populism2008 2007-05-31 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

The desire for a story of redemption is a powerful one. In 2004, Edwards could be seen as a DLC Democrat bar the Two Americas schtick.

In 2008 he's openly campaigning as a progressive. I think it's obvious why that would appeal to a group which is all about getting people to be unashamed about being Democrats.

You could characterise him, I suppose, as the candidate of hope that things can change, whereas Obama is more about hope that things will change.

by Englishlefty 2007-05-31 02:38PM | 0 recs
With all the campaigns Shrum hasbeen involved with

this should be a very interesting read. i'm really looking forward to this book, because i want to get his take on how and why the Dem Ticket failed in 04 and how much responsibility he feels is his...from the sound of that excerpt...he's more than willing to lay it all on the candidates. "hey, don't blame me, i just work here."

and that's true to some extent. If John Edwards, on a matter of war and peace, listened to his advisors over his own conscience then that is a great concern to me.

of course, as pointed out above we may never ever know how much of this is true...

by freaktown 2007-05-31 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Bloggers like Edwards because he listens to them, which is probably a pretty good strategy for him.

I've got nothing against the guy, I just don't think he can win.

Its clear that Bower's second paragraph is kissing his ass. I don't know why he feels this is necessary, I'm sure that MyDD readers are smart enough to come up with their own conclusions about Edwards based on this passage.

by wiretapp 2007-05-31 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Hmmm... Let's see if I've got this right, you don't think that the only white male southern democrat running in the top tier for an office that, since 1789, has been held by a white male, and since LBJ has, when held by Democrats, been held by a Southerner, is electable?

Edwards is REALLY more unelectable than a woman from new york or a black guy from illinois. That makes PERFECT sense. I believe in learning from history, but not in ignoring it completely.

Sorry, but that's one line about Edwards that I'm just not buying. That's not to say that Hillary or Obama are unelectable, but to suggest that Edwards is somehow LESS SO than either of them I find quite laughable. I mean, he WAS the #2 guy on our ticket four years ago, and got half the country to vote for him then. Unless you are somehow arguing that Edwards' being on the ticket in 2004 is why Kerry lost???  

by AmericanJedi 2007-05-31 10:55AM | 0 recs
He has to win

the primaries first. If he can manage to beat Hillary I think he would be a formidable general election candidate.

by Populism2008 2007-05-31 01:18PM | 0 recs
Re: He has to win

Edwards is the candidate Republicans fear the most.  This is why he gets no airtime at all.

by changehorses08 2007-05-31 10:35PM | 0 recs
The true reason behind Edwards support.

I do not agree with you at all but I suspect that you have just spoke the subconscious reasoning that most of the netroots and a great deal of non-black folks use as justification to support a campaign that by any other measure would not even be considered.

Lets be honest shall we.  The bad Iraq vote, the badly handled tv appearances on Meet the Press and George Stephanopolous (I still got both of these interviews whole on my harddrive if anyone wants to see them), the hair mishap, the flip on the NIE report, and finally Durbin's assesment of what the Senate Intelligence committee knew before the war would not make an ideal presidential candidate for the netroots if it was not for the fact that his competitors are a white woman and a black man.

John Edwards trump card with the netroots, MSM, and ultimately the democratic electorate is not his policies (which most of the candidates are going to have similar ones) or his so called sincere transformation, it is his southern male whiteness.  I am fine with that, I just wish that more people were honest with it like you just were.

With that said, I am still voting Obama right along with Stephanie Miller, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Robert Deniro.

by lovingj 2007-05-31 03:49PM | 0 recs
Re: The true reason behind Edwards support.

I'd be a lot more impressed with his southern male whiteness if he had managed to win Tennessee for the Dems in 04.

by wiretapp 2007-06-01 01:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

He voted his cowardice over his conscience, his career over his country. The problem is I'm not sure he's learned his lesson. He "apologizes" for his vote (Hillary "takes responsibility" for hers) but he just keeps making excuses for it.

On Meet The Press, Feb. 4th, 2007--

MR. RUSSERT: Why were you so wrong?

SEN. EDWARDS: For the same reason a lot of people were wrong. You know, we--the intelligence information that we got was wrong. I mean, tragically wrong. On top of that I'd--beyond that, I went back to former Clinton administration officials who gave me sort of independent information about what they believed about what was happening with Saddam's weapon--weapons programs. They were also wrong. And, based on that, I made the wrong judgment. I, I, I want to go another step, though, because I think this is more than just weapons of mass destruction. I mean, I--at the--I remember vividly what I was thinking about at the time. It was, first, I was convinced he had weapons of mass destruction. That's turned out to be completely wrong and false. I had internal conflict because I was worried about what George Bush would do. I didn't have--I didn't have confidence about him doing the work that needed to be done with the international community, the lead-up to a potential invasion in Iraq. I didn't know, in fairness, that he would be as incompetent as he's been in the administration of the war. But I had--there were at least two things going on. It wasn't just the weapons of mass destruction I was wrong about. It's become absolutely clear--and I'm very critical of myself for this--become absolutely clear, looking back, that I should not have given this president this authority.

MR. RUSSERT: At that time, however, Senator Kennedy's saying, " This is not an imminent threat."  General Zinni, who led the military in that region, said this is the wrong war.

SEN. EDWARDS: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: General Scowcroft, former President Bush's national security advisor. And the National Intelligence Estimate that was given to you and now made public had some real caveats, and this is one of them. " The activities we have detected do not ... add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR [the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research] would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons."  Do you remember seeing that?

SEN. EDWARDS: Mm-hmm, I did see it. I mean, I, I think it was--there were serious questions about whether--again, we're looking back. Now we know none of this was true. But, at the time, there were serious questions about any effort to obtain nuclear weapons, which is what that statement just was. All of us believed there was no question that he had chemical and biological weapons, and there was at least some scattered evidence that he was making an effort to get nuclear weapons.

MR. RUSSERT: But it seems as if, as a member of the intelligence committee, you just got it dead wrong, and that you even ignored some caveats and ignored people who were urging caution.

It seems to me that Shrums version of what happened is the only logical conclusion to draw--either that or Edwards is really just too stupid to be President.

But has he learned his lesson?

If you listen to his own words you would have to conclude he has not.

by Mystylplx 2007-05-31 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

It seems to me that Shrums version of what happened is the only logical conclusion to draw--either that or Edwards is really just too stupid to be President.

The only logical conclusion is that Sen. Feingold is the only Democrat smart enough to be President.

by JollyBuddah 2007-05-31 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

I don't think it's so much a matter of intelligence as it is a matter of integrity. Edwards is very intelligent, as are Hillary and Barack Obama. But Barack Obama was the only one who had the guts to oppose this stupid war at a time when 70% of the public was in favor of it, Bush's approval ratings were in the stratosphere, and anyone opposing the war was being called a traiter or terrorist sympathizer.

by Mystylplx 2007-05-31 11:04AM | 0 recs
Obama didn't have the guts to vote against...

...funding this stupid war once he was actually in the U.S. Senate until pressure from Edwards finally dragged him into it earlier this month (and then Hillary courageously cast the same vote 10 minutes later).

by MeanBoneII 2007-05-31 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama didn't have the guts to vote against...

He was smart enough to know how stupid this war was, and he's also smart enough to understand that once we were there we had a responsibility to the Iraqi people to at least give them a chance to avoid a genocide. Grown-ups take responsibility for their mistakes. Edwards just wants to pretend like it never happened.

by Mystylplx 2007-05-31 11:39AM | 0 recs
Also notice that...

... Edwards takes the politically expedient position both times--when he voted for the war, and then when he started calling for ending the funding. Obama has taken the responsible but politically risky position both times--when he opposed the war, and then when he refused to abdicate responsiblity by a precipitous withdrawel.

His "no" vote in the latest funding bill wasn't about the funding--it was about the lack of deadlines. And Hillary Clinton just waited to see what he was going to vote and then voted the same.

by Mystylplx 2007-05-31 11:58AM | 0 recs
Obama took the safe position in Illinois...

...a very blue state, running for the state Senate.

And he's been taking what he thought would be the safe "centrist" position for the general election in 2008, even throwing other Democrats under the bus by using GOP framing about funding and "playing chicken" with the troops.

Obama finally did the right thing out of fear of losing the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party to Edwards.

by MeanBoneII 2007-05-31 03:19PM | 0 recs
Funny that...

In Illinois his opponents in the election he was running in all took "the safe" position of being in favor of the war. And guess who lost that election?

by Mystylplx 2007-06-01 07:53AM | 0 recs
Right. It was a blue district in blue Illinois.

No surprise, and no great courage displayed by Obama.

Then in the statewide race, he went up against last-minute import Alan Keyes. Wow.

by MeanBoneII 2007-06-01 03:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama didn't have the guts to vote against...

Obama was not in the Senate when the war was voted on.  However, once in the Senate he voted for the war funding.  

by changehorses08 2007-05-31 10:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama didn't have the guts to vote against...

Once in the Senate the war had already begun. It's one thing to oppose beginning a stupid war--it's another thing to abdicate responsibility for a mistake this country had already made.

by Mystylplx 2007-06-01 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Could you provide links to Obama's early opposition to the Iraq war? I don't recall anything of the sort. Obama certainly didn't mention his opposition to the Iraq war when he was making campaign appearances for Joe Lieberman.

by JollyBuddah 2007-05-31 12:35PM | 0 recs
Here you go (there are more examples):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXzmXy226 po

by Populism2008 2007-05-31 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Black Agenda Report is not too impressed

with Obama

In this article Barack Obama: More Like King Herod Than Joshua I am startled by the criticism of some of those in the black progressive community.

The snow-job Barack Obama campaign has succeeded in divorcing itself from any discussion of issues, thanks to the helpful hand of corporate media. Predictably, African Americans prefer a symbolic presence in the corridors of power, to a candidate that reflects their progressive outlook on the world. And many whites welcome the prospect of voting for a Black man who has made clear he will not acknowledge - much less challenge - their privileges. Still, Obama styles himself a "Joshua" who will lead his people into the Promised Land. In fact, he is the political heir of King Herod.

and this comment on Barack Obama: Hypocrisy on Health Care  shows how others have seen him change

Since his days in the Illinois state legislature Barack Obama's position on health care has consistently devolved.  Once a bold champion of medical care as a human right, Senator and presidential candidate Obama has become a timid advocate of failed "market-based" health care solutions, taking his lead from the private health insurance industry, and unwilling or unable to expose even the most transparently fraudulent policies and claims perpetrated on behalf of his campaign contributors.

by pioneer111 2007-05-31 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Black Agenda Report is not too impressed

Why are you startled? Did you assume everyone in the black progressive community would support him simply because he's black?

That's not the way it works. Lots of black progressives support him--lots don't. Don't expect the entire black community to support him--he doesn't.

by Mystylplx 2007-06-01 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

The question I'm always asking myself about our current candidates is "if the war were popular right now, would their positions be different?"  

The fact is when I honestly ask myself that question, I'm not nuts about the answer for a number of our candidates

It's easy to be against the war now.

by alhill 2007-05-31 10:18AM | 0 recs
True

Edwards was in favor of the war when it was popular, when it became unpopular he apologized for his mistake. (Same with Hillary Clinton, Biden, etc.)

by Mystylplx 2007-05-31 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

No war which has lasted 4 years with no end in sight and no purpose could remain popular.  WW2 was over in 3-1/2 years and we beat Germany and Japan.

by changehorses08 2007-05-31 10:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

'Coach' Schrum's lifetime record in the big game:

0-7.

Any questions?

by herbal tee 2007-05-31 10:20AM | 0 recs
Elizabeth Edwards for President

Well, not really, considering her surgery. But it's good to know my instincts about her were right all along. I remember being anti John in 2004 while I felt Elizabeth outshone him at interviews. I have said this all along that Elizabeth is the real leader in the family and that is one reason why I am leaning towards John because he would get good counsel from his wife.

by Pravin 2007-05-31 10:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Elizabeth Edwards for President

But what a horrer it would be to have John as President without his wife!

by Mystylplx 2007-06-01 07:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

I lean to Edwards but still do not have that much trust in him to do the right thing in the future.  His "all options, I repeat, all options" on the table statement left me cold.  Of course any viable candidate must pay their obeisance to the aipac crowd, but it was the "I repeat" that was over the top.   'All options', certainly in the minds of his Israeli audience, includes the use of nukes against a non-nuclear country.
by syvanen 2007-05-31 10:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

This highlights the problems I'm having with Edwards. I don't know have a sense of what his deep rooted philosophy is which would allow me to predict fairly accurately what his stand would be on a future issue.  He's got his "Two Americas" but what really is that - to use his words it is kind of bumper sticker, sounds good but what  actions does it call for?  Perhaps it's my lack of knowledge of him. I'm liking what I see of Obama because I have a much better sense of a firm rooted philosophy - his "empathy deficit" is a moral compass which leads us to predict a consistency of decision making.  

by dougdilg 2007-05-31 10:35AM | 0 recs
Take a close look at Edwards

I originally began my interest in him when I read a speech of his in May or June of 2003.  It was about how we need to return to rewarding work over  wealth i.e. the glorification of wealth not the labor that creates wealth.  The lousy neolibralism that has sunk our country. And it was about the great liberal concept of fairness in opportunity that our founders came up with.  It was a radical idea that citizens should power share and that each American had rights, not mere privileges.

It was like a door opened for me.  Here was a guy who could take complex ideas and talk about them with simplicity like Lincoln could.  Both trial lawyers.  Trial lawyers try to make sense of things to regular people.  Politicians often talk down to the "masses". I think the concept of having One America again instead of Two is profound.  It's not just about the uber rich and the rest of us.  It's about the powerful and their lackeys versus the rest of us.

This comes from his advocacy of those wronged by corporations.  Justice is at his core.  Empathy is the ability to get in others shoes; but it takes more than speeches.  It takes walking in those shoes.  It takes seeing an injured child and the courage to take on the greedy bastards who willfully injured her.  Obama is correct.  There is an empathy deficit. But I trust Edwards more than Obama to go to the core of the problem. Take it to the streets and not the back rooms of the Senate.

by Feral Cat 2007-05-31 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards


My Thanks to Chris Bowers!

In the past few days, I have narrowed my choices up (not down)to either Edwards or Richardson. Sadly, Clinton or Obama do not rise to my "metric" for decision-making.

Further, I am reminded of what the 'stumble-bum' from Hoover, and which almost all will recognize is Victor David Hansom.  He recently opined that the "race industry" will see a Latino "majority" in the Southwest.  Of course, he was into his usual self for denigration and disparagement for all who disagree with him.  Unfortunatly, Hanson is old history but doesn't know it yet.  And which brings me to my point since I am a "racial and ethnic" and who doesn't post that often anymore here at Mydd.  Thus, I have been a slackard with my regard and appreciation to the hard work accomplished by Bowers, Stoller, and the many others.

In the run-up to the Iraqi War, African Americans, Chicanos and Native Americans were over-whelmingly opposed to the war.  At the time, I faulted Edwards for voting for the War.  And after the War, he recanted and which was good enough for me. And yet, I have continued to fault white America for its mass delusion and in support of a foreign policy premised on a Manifest Destiny Exported. Thankfully, white America has caught up to me, and that is indeed good news.  

I am a military vet and I am currently in charge of a vets-type organization that on occasion speaks for the privates, the corporals, and the sergeants in contrast to the officer corps since they too have their own and distinct voice.  And most of the time, we are at odds on the important issues.  

As of yesterday, I have been delegated to interview Edwards and Richardson with respect to our organizational agenda.  Consequently, we have four options, 1) endorse Edwards, 2) endorse Richardson, 3) endorse both Edwards and Richardson, and 4) make no endorsement.

Consequently, this internet discussion led by Chris Bowers and the many posted comments on Edwards is helpful to say the least, with respect to our preparation for this pending interview of Edwards.

And our agenda is not vast to say the least.  Take, for example, currently we are focused on immigration, a universal health care rolled into the VA Medical Systemic, and crafting a newer and better military draft as an "academic-military" draft.

In closing and to make amends for not adequately participating at Mydd, tomorrow, I will be posting a diary here at the Mydd on our take for immigration as a "first" plank for an Agenda for Humility and Self-Restraint.  It will be titled, "Immigration:  Challenging Orthdoxy".  And please feel free to tear it apart should that be your desire.  Of course, I will make myself available in defense of this diary.

Respectfully Submitted,

Jaango
 

by Jaango 2007-05-31 11:14AM | 0 recs
If you are progressive

it makes no sense to pick Richardson over Obama. Obama is way too the left of Richardson, especially on domestic policy.

Did you see Richardson in the first debate and on MTP last week? Awful...

by Populism2008 2007-05-31 01:24PM | 0 recs
I love his two americas

My only problem with Edwards is electability.  

I don't think he beat Hillary. Not in a million years.

by aiko 2007-05-31 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

First off, I like Edwards and have given money to his campaigns.

But, I have to say, I really wish we held ourselves to a higher standard when making decisions that are fundamentally about killing people.

What's Shrum even doing in the room?

by awgupta 2007-05-31 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Edwards will never beat Hillary. I don't need Shrum's book to convince me of anything when it comes to trusting John Edwards.  I didn't trust him in 2003 and I don't trust him now.

Edwards has been campaigning long and hard and his third place numbers are still in the teens - mostly the low teens.  I believe trust, or lack of trust is the problem.

I support Hillary but I would happily work my butt off for Obama if he gets the nom.  In my view, Obama is a less-experienced version of Hillary.  

by samueldem 2007-05-31 12:02PM | 0 recs
Fair enough

In my view Obama is a less experienced and more likeable and somewhat more progressive version of Hillary. Since it is my firm belief that American voters base their decisions on likeability and charisma over policy positions and experience I have to go with Obama.

by Populism2008 2007-05-31 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards


I support Hillary but I would happily work my butt off for Obama if he gets the nom.  In my view, Obama is a less-experienced version of Hillary.

That's what I'm afraid of.

by Quinton 2007-05-31 11:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Too bad 700K Iraqis are dead, 3.5K American soldiers are dead, and our country's resources and reputation have been greatly damaged.  But hey, who cares, at least Edwards is learning an useful lesson.

Didnt Edwards sponsonr the War bill? How can he sponsor a Bill he wasnt fully aware of? And if he was aware of what the Bill contained, why was he so careless and still sponsored it?

None of the Dems Candidates with the exception of Gravel and Kucinnich have the integrity to be POTUS.

by AnthonyMason2k6 2007-05-31 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

"But the consensus view from both the foreign policy experts and the political operatives was that even though Edwards was on the Intelligence Committee, he was too junior in the Senate; he didn't have the credibility to vote against the resolution."

Edwards has said as much in Q&A. He mentioned receiving advice from Clinton's people. He said he didn't just rely on Bush's "evidence,"  but that he went outside of the admin. and Intelligence Cmte.

I agree that he's taken a hard turn from the bad choice and bad advice and not trusting himself. Right into the arms of the kind of people he fought for in court against insurance corporations. He's found his home with ordinary people, being the fighter for his mom and dad's people. Also, he and Elizabeth are living in a different kind of time than we are who don't face death daily. It concentrates the mind.

Shrum is a loser - notice in this piece above how often he brought the attention to himself.

by mrobinsong 2007-05-31 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Wow ....I guess the purpose for Shrum to right a book was to say he is an idiot and should not be working in politics ever again.

I hope he never will....what an asshat.

by rbrianj 2007-05-31 03:18PM | 0 recs
Edwards Has No Core

Kerry talked with several potential picks, including Gephardt and Edwards. He was comfortable after his conversations with Gephardt, but even queasier about Edwards after they met. Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he'd never told anyone else -- that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he'd do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade's ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before--and with the same preface, that he'd never shared the memory with anyone else. - Excerpt from "No Excuses" by Robert Shrum.

by KGrande 2007-05-31 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Anyone who takes Shrum's word on anything is an idiot.  The man is "insder" personified, and the biggest loser in politics.  If Shrum thinks a candidate is good, run the other way.  If Shrum advises you to do X, do the opposite.

As for Edwards vs. Obama, which is what people in this thread want to talk about, Edwards has been leading this last year, and Obama hasn't.  Edwards rejected the War on Terror frame, put together a healthcare plan that would actually be universal and has fought the war.  Obama has not lead the fight against the war, his foreign policy speech is a piece of establishment bullshit, and his healthcare plan wouldn't actually cover everyone.

Vote Obama if you want - but he's telling you who he is right now - not 4 years ago - and you aren't listening to him.

Listen.

As for Edwards, if he's listening to the netroots that's a good thing, not a bad thing.  Tell me who a man listens to, and I'll tell you what he's going to do.  When he listened to assholes and losers like Shrum he voted for the war. When he started listening to his wife and to the netroots he started coming out against the war on terror.  Meanwhile Obama has made it very clear that he has little respect for the netroots.

Great - I hope you people choose your spouses better than you choose your candidates - choose the one with the "integrity" to disrespect you and not listen to you rather than the one that does listen to you and acts on the same beliefs you have.

by Ian Welsh 2007-05-31 06:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

Elizabeth was a forceful no. She didn't trust anything the Bush administration was saying.

I knew I liked her!

by bartcopfan 2007-06-01 07:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Shrum on Edwards

...disingenuous all the way around doncha think?

Sitting on the Intel Committee at the time, yet Edwards didn't read the NIE, (altho he said that he did when asked in an interview), his spokesman tells us in today's NYT that he did not. Did not..."did not understand the question".

It really wouldn't bother me if Edwards used a focus group, altho neither would I be impressed, but it bothers hell out of me that he didn't read the NIE before endorsing the IWR.

If this were a Republican you'd be burning him in the public arena.

by sybil disobedience 2007-06-01 03:22PM | 0 recs

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