Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer tells readers today [excerpts]:
[Former Senator John] Edwards has made much of his renunciation of his Iraq war vote. But he has not stopped there.Now take a look at some of what the Raleigh News & Observer’s Rob Christensen reports today on its front page. The story begins :
His entire campaign has been an orgy of regret and renunciation:
As senator, he voted in 2001 for a bankruptcy bill that he now denounces.
As senator, he voted for the Bush-Kennedy No Child Left Behind education reform. He now campaigns against it, promising to have it "radically overhauled."
As senator, he voted for the Patriot Act, calling it "a good bill . . . and I am pleased to support it." He now attacks it.
As senator, he voted to give China normalized trade relations. …
He now campaigns against liberalized trade with China as a sellout of the middle class to the great multinational agents of greed, etc.
Breathtaking. People can change their minds about something. But everything? …
What is different about Edwards is his endlessly repeated claim that the raging populist of today is what he has always been. That this has been the "cause of my life," the very core of his being, ingrained in him on his father's knee or at the mill or wherever, depending on the anecdote he's telling. You must understand: This is not politics for him. "This fight is deeply personal to me. I've been engaged in it my whole life." …
The audacity of the all-my-life trope is staggering. By his own endlessly self-confessed record, his current pose is a coat of paint newly acquired. His claim that it is an expression of his inner soul is a farce.
A cynical farce that is particularly galling to authentic and principled left-liberals. "The one [presidential candidate] that is the most problematic is Edwards," Sen. Russ Feingold told the Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wis., "who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it. Voted for the Iraq war. . . . He uses my voting record exactly as his platform, even though he had the opposite voting record."
It profits a man nothing to sell his soul for the whole world. But for 4 percent of the Nevada caucuses?
The speeches this week end with a poignant moment: Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards joins hands with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley to lead the crowds in singing "Amazing Grace."Edwards comes from a career as a trial lawyer which made him a multi-millionaire and enabled his to recently build a 30, 000 sq. ft. house. But the N&O’s story doesn’t mention that.
The music of Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys now has more prominence than "The Rising" by New Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen, the unofficial campaign anthem at Edwards' rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The campaign's tone has also changed as Edwards has returned to his native state for Saturday's South Carolina Democratic primary. Edwards' basic message of the need for "economic fairness" remains. But some of the edge has been rounded off.
In front of politically moderate South Carolina Democrats, Edwards no longer uses phrases such as "corporate greed" or talks about corporations stealing children's futures.
Instead, Edwards emphasizes his Southern roots and his understanding of small towns where textile mills have closed and of the decline of rural America. And he promises never to forget these people if he gets to the White House.
"No one has to explain to me what happens when the factories and the mills close and the jobs leave," Edwards said in Lancaster. "That is the difference of having a president who comes from here, who understands what is happening here. ... I will not forget where I came from when I'm president."
The N&O continues:
Edwards has struggled against the better-funded campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in the first three contests, in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. …After first saying he wouldn’t do it, Edwards applied for public funding of his campaign. He’s received millions in taxpayer dollars.
The N&O’s story doesn’t mention that but it does go on to serve up this home cookin’
"I remember very well going to Friday night high school football games," Edwards said in Lancaster. "I played in a few myself. I remember going to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. I know very well what your lives are like and are built around."The N&O serves up more home cookin’. It’s all here.
Edwards strikes a chord with some voters in the hard-hit upstate textile belt.
"He can relate to the cotton mill people," said Glenn Fuller, 57, a retired highway patrolman from Gaffney. "He knows about how we're raised, the values of the South."
Norman Hutto, 57, a retired state employee from Gaffney, said Edwards understands the region's economic problems. "He has a sense of what life is like around here," Hutto said.
Krauthammer’s column is here.
A while back I complained to an N&O editor that the paper flacks for Edwards.
“Oh, no,” the editor replied. “If anything, we’re a little tougher on Edwards then the other candidates because we want to be careful not to seem to be giving him a break.”
Well, yeah. And the N&O also says it’s “fair and accurate.”
Hat tip: Mike Williams