On John Edwards: The Edwards campaign was a surreal experience that should inspire a doctoral dissertation or two. He was both the most progressive candidate on issues and the most electable on paper, and yet he did not get the support of most progressives or most professionals. This despite the fact that he actually ran a terrific campaign and, more than Obama and Hillary, defined it in a positive direction. That he forced the other candidates to respond did not end up mattering as much as the media’s fascination with all things Clintonian, Obamian, and the egregiously awful coverage of Edwards. The Washington Post deserves special mention for its idiotic 1,300-word piece on his haircut and an even longer one on his house. Richard Cohen and Michael Dobbs both called him a liar and presented no evidence. The editorial board attacked him constantly. The New York Times also went in for the “How can you care about poor people when you’re so rich?” line of questioning, which implies that poor people are unentitled to representation in the American political system, since it allows for only wealthy people to run. And Maureen Dowd was her usual awful, substanceless self, helping to set the tone for the rest, to the shame of all of us.
No one can win the presidency with a campaign whose primary focus is poverty. To think it could be done was foolish. The American electorate, the “middle class,” don’t like poor people and don’t identify with them, and don’t understand the universal benefits of eliminating poverty in this country. Had Edwards, instead, come out with a single-payer, tax-supported healthcare program he would have had a much better chance, because most Americans recognize that healthcare is a huge problem.
Too bad. He would have been a great president, I think.