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Just wanted to share a couple of letters I wrote over at Salon on their latest article on John Edwards. Both were prompted by comments questioning John Edwards authenticity, and the level of cynicism being thrown about towards him.

He still seems disingenuous
Having read this piece, I still can’t get past the sense I had in the last election that Mr. Edwards is just fake and that everything he says and does is just calculated. I have felt badly about expressing it aloud when his wife is terminally ill and everyone is giving him a pass but he still seems fake. Everything from the kids on the campaign, to using the sympathy notes to generate a list of potential financial contacts. I hope it turns out not to be true but for now, I’m just not buying the total transformation from moderate, cautious candidate to a far left gospel.

–foolmetwice

[My response]

I did too… for a minute.

I’m so accustomed to being cynical under the rule of King W. and rightfully so, and so I too have felt pangs of skepticism towards Edwards’ sincerity. After all, wasn’t the base of the right-wing seduced by the aww-shucks facade of W.? And we all now know his good-ol’-boy charm was just a mask for the insecure, cruel, frat-boy asshole that we all know he really is. Could John Edwards be the same? Could it be an act?

But that all disappears when I think about how passionately and unequivocably he is giving voice to so many issues that I care about and desperately want to see become a part of our national dialogue. His background does matter, we know what someone’s upbringing does to shape or, as in the case of W., mis-shape their character. The man seems to get it on a personal level, and thank god for all of us that he also happens to be an extremely gifted orator. It is a welcomed change and a necessity frankly that all of America hear John Edwards articulate the need for universal health care, worker’s rights, fair trade and an environmentally sustainable economy.

These are populist issues. They can only propel a candidate to the Whitehouse if there is a massive wave of support for them that can overwhelm the politics-as-usual elites that survive on their corporate donors and meandering pandering centrist ways. So if you’re gonna stir up the people by talking about big issues like these, you’d best deliver or you’ll be ten times as unpopular twice as fast if you turn your back on the people who put you there. It’ll work much the same way as things did under Bush and Cheney, but instead of the president guiding policy towards the whims of neoconservative thinktanks and Halliburton, he’ll be guided by the needs of the people of the United States of America.

So I’m not as much supporting a candidate, as I am supporting all of the issues that I care most deeply about by hiring the most passionate and effective advocate for them that I can find. Right now that’s looking like Edwards to me and a lot of other folks.

What’s allowing Edwards to be the left flank?
It’s easy to observe the campaign rhetoric and say, “Edwards is the most left of the top-tier candidates.” And that may be the case. But this essay completely misses a more glaring difference between Edwards and the other two candidates: he’s a white male .

I’m not saying we should give Obama and Clinton a free pass. But for those of you who think Obama and Clinton have sold out, just think about this: how much easier is it for Edwards to be a progressive than it would be for either of them?

–Sarita78

[My Response]

Sounds a bit bigoted

I would submit to you that there is an underlying bigotry to this statement. If I were to contort that to say that Barack’s rhetoric is somehow more or less authentic based solely on the color of his skin with no other reasonable evidence to back it up, I hope I would be called a racist. Just because I’m white does not mean that I as a human being am any less of incapable of understanding and honestly empathizing with the difficulties women and minorities have faced. Nor does belonging to one of those two categories automatically earn you my respect and trust all on its own. It’s all just silly.

It’s time to get beyond race and start seeing that we’re all connected and to think better of one another. That our differences are far outnumbered by our similarities. Those who are in power now have view everyone around them with suspicion and unwaivering cynism. That is the underlying reason why they have no faith in government. If we are going to turn this country around we have to remember what makes us different, that we believe in the basic underlying goodness of our fellow human beings. That when people believe in the best of one another it tends to bring out that result.

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This is too good not to share, and I’ll entice you with the closing line:

Is America really ready for a black president? Well, why not? We just had a retarded one.

And yes I know it is a slur to use the word retarded, and an even bigger insult to the mentally and developmentally disabled by comparing them to the inexorable fuck up that IS George W. Bush.

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I noticed a smear starting to emerge in the right wing blogosphere about Edwards and Israel. As per usual there appears to be an incestuous twisting of a single story in to a larger, twisted narrative. Let’s map this sucker out.

It all begins with this piece from Variety:

There are other emerging fissures, as well. The aggressively photogenic John Edwards was cruising along, detailing his litany of liberal causes last week until, during question time, he invoked the “I” word — Israel. Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace, Edwards remarked, was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. As a chill descended on the gathering, the Edwards event was brought to a polite close.

Support for Israel in the U.S. has lately become bafflingly multi-cultural, representing an alliance between diaspora Jews, traditional Zionists and evangelicals. Support from Christian zealots, who now represent about one third of Israel’s tourist business, is welcomed even though, according to evangelical doctrine, Judgment Day will bring the ultimate destruction of Israel and death to most of its residents.

The Economist observed this week that “knee jerk defensiveness” of Israel ultimately will erode support for that country around the world, even among Jews. Only 17% of American Jews today regard themselves as “pro-Zionist,” the magazine points out, and only 57% say that “caring about Israel is a very important part of being Jewish.” And Jimmy Carter only exacerbates these mixed signals with his recent perorations that Israel must “give back” territories to the Palestinians.

So according to the Economist, nobody is fond of the Israel taking a reactionary stance, including Jews. Which says to me that IF Edwards denounced the notion of Israel attacking Iran that he wouldn’t be alone in holding such an opinion. This, however won’t shield him from the right wing attacks on him for daring to criticize Israel. If you plug your nose and wade thru the right-wing blogosphere, you’ll find an incestuous circle of sites all linking to this NRO piece:

Really? Israel is the biggest threat? Not Ahmedinijad? Not al-Qaeda? Not a coup attempt in Pakistan? Not a complete breakdown in Iraq drawing in the Saudis, Turks, and Iranians?

But then I read this:

WASHINGTON John Edwards’ presidential campaign wants to make it clear that he doesn’t consider Israel a threat to world peace.

A spokesman for the 2008 Democratic candidate issued a statement today denying such a report on Variety.com.
Columnist Peter Bart reports that Edwards told a Hollywood fundraiser last month that the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities is perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace.

Edwards’ spokesman Jonathan Prince says the article is erroneous. He says Edwards says one of the greatest short-term threats to world peace is Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

So if this article is correct, then the Edwards campaign is actually fueling the bullshit tough talk on Iran now. I really don’t know what to think here, but I’m either very unhappy with John Edwards’ talk on Iran or how the media is portraying his position on Iran. Some clarity is needed, as I agree with democracy arsenal:

With that said, it is tough sometimes to interpret Iran quotes, as we found out yesterday. Let’s say, for example, if someone says: “any type of military action against Iran should be an absolute last resort and every effort should be made to avoid confrontation,” or “we have no intention of attacking Iran” and then they say something like “all options should be left on the table,” then those two statements, while different in tone, are not necessarily contradictory. The argument could be made that its possible to believe both things simultaneously.

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