The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Let's talk 2008.  John Edwards wants advice from people on his email list on whether he should run for President, and so this is what I'm going to send him.

We haven't seen an opening this big for a genuinely progressive Presidency since 1932.  There's a non-Southern Democratic Congress to work with, a strong populist economic strain, a thorough repudiation of a failed conservative movement, a disgraced corporate elite, new tools for organizing and governance, a strongly liberal mainstream culture, and a real liberal, energized, and confident base.  In The Bar Fight Primary, I tried to sketch out a test that I use in trying to figure out whether a candidate can really be that great President.  The question is whether this figure will challenge an entrenched power center in the campaign, and then as President work to create a different and more progressive constitutional order.  If no, then the country will continue to muddle into collapse.  If yes, then we can return America to a path of strength through wisdom.  While it's true that the American people are tired of bullying politics, and Obama is a symbol of that fatigue, the bullies themselves aren't tired of looting, lying, and murder.  I wish they were and we could go back to a sane bipartisan consensus, but like most of us who turned to the blogs I'm a pragmatist.  I'm not saying that the tone must be confrontational, only that there must be conflict.

So let's talk John Edwards.  First let me say that I like John Edwards. I like his wife, Elizabeth, and I like everyone I've met from his campaign.  They are in general good people trying to do the right thing.  I respect Edwards' theme of Two Americas, and I respect that he's announcing his decision to run in New Orleans.  There's a genuine thematic unity to his Presidential run, one he's refined since his turn leftward in 2003.  He's been there for unions, and that's power based on organizing and people, and not media emptiness.  I've gone through his speeches, and he has talked real substance on economic growth, foreign policy, and poverty.

In fact, a number of my progressive friends are working for or advising John Edwards in some capacity or other.  The calculation is that Senator Clinton is awful, Obama isn't fully formed, and Edwards is the only possible candidate who can win and govern as a progressive.  As you know, I think Obama should run for President.  I think he'll lose and possibly grow into a principled and effective progressive instead of a cautious cipher.  As for Hillary Clinton, one of the reasons I think she'll be an awful President is because she's lived in a Davos bubble since 1992, and has basically no idea what modern America is like.  She hasn't actually lived here for over fifteen years.

John Edwards, despite all his signals towards progressive ideals over the last few years, confounds me.  On the one hand, he knows he must run as a progressive through the primary.  It's clear from his speeches that he no longer believes in third way politics.  He's made poverty a central issue in his life, and he campaigned for candidates we like, such as as Larry Kissell.  On the other hand, he was a DLC-style politician in the Senate, he voted for the war, and he hasn't as far as I can tell put himself in a position to fight alongside progressives on some major battle.  Reagan, for instance, was an ally of reactionary conservative Jesse Helms and chaired a New Right committee against the Panama Canal treaty (which passed in 1977), and that was before he became the standard-bearer for conservatives as the Republican nominee.  

Edwards has fought some smaller battles alongside progressives helping unions out with his celebrity and raising money for state candidates, and he has put poverty on the map.  And as a relatively liberal Senator from a fairly conservative North Carolina, I can overlook his lack of liberal heroics during his time in the Senate, and respect his time as a trial lawyer fighting against corrupted corporate elites.  After all, Reagan's record as Governor of California was not ideologically coherent, though he was brought to power as a reaction against the Berkeley Free Speech movement and beat a liberal powerhouse in Pat Brown.  I see in Edwards and his family a desire to be liked and a genuine respect for people.  They don't reflexively dislike dirty hippy liberals, which is a big plus since that's actually the main cleavage in the party in a lot of ways.  In fact Edwards admitted he was wrong on the war, which still distinguishes him positively.  It brings him firmly into the American mainstream and out of the Beltway elite.

Now here's the problem, and it's a huge one.  I see in John Edwards an aversion to any sort of conflict and a lack of killer instinct - just look at his debate with Dick Cheney in 2004.  In his speeches, Edwards is constantly upbraiding us to live up to our progressive ideals, but he rarely talks of the opponents to our ideals.  As far as I can tell, he is unwilling to take on entrenched centers of reactionary power, believing, or rather hoping, that a genuine desire for the country to unify around someone necessarily means the bullies will just move out of the way.  Reagan unified the country against liberals, and the opportunity exists for Edwards to unify the country against conservatives.  But he hasn't as far as I can tell made a move to do that.  I worry that as a result of this lack of killer instinct the Edwards' value good deeds over fighting injustice and loyalty over competence.  

So in thinking about whether Edwards should run for President, or whether you should work for him or support him, here's what I would say.  Tell me one time he's risked a piece of his political career to stand up to the right.  Give me one example of where he led, one fight where he had to prove he's with us.  Oh sure he talks a good game about poverty, but will he actually call out the bad actors or work to identify villains and fight them?  I can offer you a good example of how he could betray us, aside from the massively important war vote.  He said in late July and August that he'd come to Connecticut to help Lamont and the three Connecticut candidates, and then backed out afterwards when he was no longer under scrutiny.  Towards the end of the campaign, he wouldn't even issue a statement against Lieberman.  He knows, as we do, that that was a real litmus test, and he chose them over us.  His inner circle encompasses people like Nick Baldick, who, while a smart guy, was also employed at Dewey Square, the resting place for Democratic Presidential campaign managers who betray us on issues like net neutrality in the off-season to make a little extra. (Nick's got a defender in the comments.) This instinctive cautious strain cuts through his political operation.  I once asked his communications director who his allies in the House are regarding povery, and she said 'Al Wynn', who is one of the key right-wing Democrats pushing through the Bankruptcy Bill, the Energy Bill, and the COPE Act, and who stole an election from a real progressive, Donna Edwards.  It was a thoughtless, stupid comment, but it was a comment borne of a genuine illiberal instinct, a desire to suck up to existing power centers.  It was also incompetent, which doesn't speak particularly well of his operation (though that could change with his new campaign manager David Bonior).

To overgeneralize for a bit, the identity of progressive left on the internet is based on a set of assumptions about the country.  We feel betrayed by various elites, and we feel that only by standing up to bad actors can we set things right.  That means that the way to generate real support is to stand up to bad actors in an overt way, and show that you are willing to make enemies of the bullies.  We are not the be all and end all of the primaries, we are an avant garde of the primary voting universe.  There are real strategic reasons to reject our support as unnecessary or problematic.  But right now, John Edwards needs us to win, and he doesn't have us.  And he won't get us until he shows that he's more than a candidate who's against poverty, and he's actually a progressive who stands with us against the evil actors who steal from the poor and are actually for poverty.

John Edwards talks like a progressive, and he should run for President if he's actually going to be upholding progressive values in doing so.  Will he do so?  I don't know, that's up to him.  I hope so, but then again, why isn't he a leading voice on the escalation in Iraq, for instance?  If he isn't willing to really steel himself and fight this fight for ten years, then he shouldn't run.  And since this is a discussion among everyone on his email list, I'll broaden it.

If you are working for or supporting Edwards you should figure out whether he's the John Edwards who wants to deal with poverty in a real way, or whether he's the John Edwards who voted for the war.  Give yourself six months or some arbitrary amount of time, mentally, and say that if he doesn't prove himself to be on our side in some fundamental way that you'll go elsewhere.  I'm not sure what that proof is, but it will certainly mean that he will have to engage in some fight that requires sacrifice and risk on his part, and a fight with an entrenched reactionary power center.  If he isn't willing to take risks to change the country, then his talent and his supporters' talent will be wasted, and energy that could go to Edwards 2008 ought to be building a progressive America in some other way.

What do you think?  Should he run?

Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards (all tags)



Hmm ... let me think :)

John Edwards stood up for Ned Lamont and said publicly that Joe Lieberman should NOT run. I know some people wanted him to do even MORE for Lamont, but there were alot of other candidates to help, and compare Edwards' efforts to those of the other top two contenders.

He has stood up for organized labor in this country in a very real way, and received the AFL-CIO Paul Wellstone award. He has established that he is on the side of working people.

He stood up for everyday people harmed by negligence and battled corporations in the courtroom. Sure, he benefited financially from his legal career -- good for him. He could have been one of those corporate lawyers he was beating, but instead he was helping the little people.

by MeanBoneII 2006-12-24 12:29PM | 0 recs
agreed, but matt's point stands

The Edwards politics is missing an angle of attack.

by msnook 2006-12-24 01:16PM | 0 recs
ENDING poverty does by definition...

...mean picking fights.

by MeanBoneII 2006-12-24 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: ENDING poverty does by definition...

True.  While I like ALL of the potential Dem candidates, one of things I really like about Edwards is that he talks about the issue of poverty, he realizes how important an issue it is not only here but around the world.  You can go back to the greatest speeches of Franklin Rooselvelt and of John Kennedy, and hear echos of what Edwards is saying today. This is the heart and soul of the Democratic party.

A commenter downthread suggested that such economic issues really aren't a matter of "survival", like the issue of terrorism. But I wouldn't be surprised if poverty is responsible for more deaths every month than terrorism has killed in all of history.

by Rob in Vermont 2006-12-24 05:42PM | 0 recs
Re: ENDING poverty does by definition...

They're both linked.

Fundamentalism is bred from poverty.

by adamterando 2006-12-25 12:19PM | 0 recs
which is why Edwards must stop shying from them

or he will fail to end poverty.

by msnook 2006-12-24 07:44PM | 0 recs
He's fighting for organized labor.

From Hardball on MSNBC, Dec. 12, 2006:

MATTHEWS:  Are you for the card check?  

J. EDWARDS:  I am for the card check.

MATTHEWS:  You think that`s fair to be able to have four people from a labor union, big people come up to a little person and say you`re going to vote for the union, aren`t you?  You`re going to vote for the union, aren`t you?  

Today the law says you have to have a big meeting and everybody has to be there to vote for the union.  You`re saying--the card check says all you need is 51 percent of the people to be individually talked into signing a card and you think that`s OK.  

J. EDWARDS:  I think it`s democracy.  I do.

MATTHEWS:  But not having an election?

J. EDWARDS:  It`s democracy because what happens is the way the system has been loaded up is the employers bring in these union busters who are experts at busting the union.  They sometimes violate the law.  The way the enforcement works is almost nonexistent.  Three or four years down the road there`s a slap on the wrist.  

All I want is I want to see a level playing field.  If employees want to join a union, democratically they ought to be able to do that.  If they don`t, they can choose not to.

MATTHEWS:  OK, the average person is working at the mill, they`re working on the job and they`re on the machine, and four guys come up to them, big guys, they go up and say sign this card, we want to start a union here.  And that little person goes I`d rather not.  You`d rather not?  Isn`t that kind of intimidating for a person?  

J. EDWARDS:  But why would you assume it`s the fellow employees who are going to intimidate...

MATTHEWS:  Because it`s the outside labor organizations.

J. EDWARDS:  ... them instead of the guy who`s writing their check?

MATTHEWS:  Because if the international union guys come in.  I`m asking you a question.  Do you think that shows independence our your part, or the fact that you`re in bed with labor.

J. EDWARDS:  I think it shows that I am a complete believer in workers having a voice and being able to collectively bargain.  I don`t think we have a problem in America with big, multinational corporations being able to have their voice heard.  Their voice is heard loud and clear.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you.


by MeanBoneII 2006-12-24 08:44PM | 0 recs
Re: He's fighting for organized labor.

Tweety shows which side he's on, eh?

Which Side Are You On? (Florence Resse -1930s)

Come all you good workers,
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?

...Don't scab for the bosses,
Don't listen to their lies.
Us poor folks haven't got a chance
Unless we organize.

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-25 03:05AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run
I supported him in 04 but, not now.  I could not figure out what bothered me about him and your article says it.  Lack of a killer instinct and the possibility of him betraying us.  He really has no convictions for which he will stand and die for.  He will back away rather than stand.
I know what chicago politics is like being not too far from there in Illinois.  Obama is a nice guy but, you do have to be willing to fight and take stands.  Because it's not obvious doesnt mean he will roll over.  
And excellent article in the LAT today pretty much gives you a good portrait of Obama.
We won't discuss Hillary as she is just not going to be nominated if any of us can help it.
thanks for the article and saying and developing what it is that bothers me about Edwards.
by vwcat 2006-12-24 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Then who? Hillary, Obama and now Edwards have been hinted at by the posters on this site as possible candidates for betrayal.

Yet I see little substantive talk from the Clark camp, and nothing concrete from the Richardson people.

by MNPundit 2006-12-24 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

RFK already had a reputation, deserved or not, as a ruthless political warrior before he entered the 1968 campaign.  But prior to LBJ's decision to withdraw, he did not show any sign of a commitment to fight the entrenched power base of his own party -- it was Gene McCarthy whose challenge cut the legs from under Johnson, not Kennedy.

Edwards reminds me of RFK in many ways.  His focus on economic justice is similar to Bobby's, and his public re-evaluation of the war is similar as well.  He hasn't yet thrown down the gauntlet, but I think that's coming.

"Similar" does not mean "the same," of course, so there are many differences.   But I hear the echoes, and I'm heartened by them.  

At this point, I'm still holding out for the Gore Administration I voted for in 2000, and hopeful that if Gore runs, and wins, he'll be an even better President for having spent his time in the wilderness.  But if he doesn't run, my current #2 is John Edwards.

by Califlander 2006-12-25 02:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Of course he should run. And I think he would make a good president.

Not convinced he'll get the nomination though.

by kundalini 2006-12-24 12:34PM | 0 recs
An advantage Edwards will have in the primaries:

He can run as a stronger progressive than Hillary or Obama, and still be perceived as moderate enough to win the general election.

by MeanBoneII 2006-12-24 12:43PM | 0 recs
Yeah, he'll run as a progressive for us

That's a key point. "still be perceived as moderate enough to win the general election."

GWB was perceived as the moderate candidate 2000 but with some dog whistle political speech, some whispered private conversations with mega church leaders, it was solidified that GWB would govern as far right as humanly possible.

Stoller pointed out already that the 9th Ward choice was a good bit of dog whistle politics.  I don't think a Rovian whisper campaign of assurance is doing to win over the emerging power centers of progressivism.  We're too burned by turncoats, hollow happy speech, and Clintonista    incrementalism.  We're bitter.  And rightly so.

There's going to be a fight.

by Shank 2006-12-24 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah, he'll run as a progressive for us

I think that's right.  The right-wing base trusted Bush because he had a long record of working with them, and the base didn't feel a legacy of betrayal.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 02:14PM | 0 recs
In regards to the debate with Darth Cheney...

Edwards' experience in the courtroom winning over juries helped him in his debate with Cheney (and the sit-down format was insisted upon by White House to favor Cheney).

Cheney's negatives already were quite high. Edwards understood that aggressively attacking Cheney would have less of an impact on Cheney's negatives, and likely just drive his own negatives higher.

Instead, he aimed an overall positive message at winning over the most important target audience -- undecided voters. A post-debate poll of uncommitted voters showed that Edwards knew what he was doing.

by MeanBoneII 2006-12-24 12:35PM | 0 recs
Re: In regards to the debate with Darth Cheney...

"Edwards' experience in the courtroom winning over juries helped him in his debate with Cheney."

Edwards lost the debate to Cheney which is worrisome since it is a preview of what would happen in a McCain/Cheney debate.

Matt mentioned Edwards lacking the ability to challenge others and Edwards' loss to Cheney was a good example of that.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-24 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: In regards to the debate with Darth Cheney...

Interesting that that's what you saw.  My take of the same debate was quite the opposite, and I remember Cheney back peddling quite often at Edwards offensive.  I'd like to see the debate a again, or at least finding a transcript of it to pull some quotes, etc.  However, I completely disagree with your take of the 2004 VP debate.

by bedobe 2006-12-24 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: In regards to the debate with Darth Cheney...

Again, interesting how two years after the fact even we, self-described partisan progressives and Dems, bought the mainstream post-debate narrative of on the 2004 VP encounter.  As I stated above, I remember the out come of that debate very differently than how its been described here... in fact, so did most Americans:

"Edwards was equally aggressive, accusing President Bush and Cheney of misleading the country about Iraq, first by suggesting that Iraq was linked to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and then by trying to suggest that conditions there are better than they are. He repeatedly accused Cheney of distorting the facts to mislead the public." [Kansas City Star, 10/5/04]

"Probably for John Edwards the best moment was when he turned to Cheney and said, you know Mr. Cheney, I don't--Mr. Vice President, I don't think Americans can take another four years of this administration. Sort of a rendition of Ronald Reagan's famous line of are you better off. That clearly was one that he had been waiting to deliver. Obviously an effective line." [CNN, 10/5/04, 10:51]

"Mr. Edwards is normally known for his wide grin and boyish appearance, but he was serious and tough last night. If his main task was to show that he could stand up to the older and more experienced vice president, he did everything he needed to do, especially during the discussion of foreign policy." [Editorial, New York Times, 5/6/04] html?forumID=8&threadID=160970&s tart=0

Again, your recollection could simply not be more wrong.  And, unfortunately, so is Matt's recollection.

by bedobe 2006-12-24 03:03PM | 0 recs
Re: In regards to the debate with Darth Cheney...

(Sorry, I originally meant to attach this to your comment, but posted to mine in stead)

Again, interesting how two years after the fact even we, self-described partisan progressives and Dems, bought the mainstream post-debate narrative of on the 2004 VP encounter.  As I stated above, I remember the out come of that debate very differently than how its been described here... in fact, so did most Americans:

"Edwards was equally aggressive, accusing President Bush and Cheney of misleading the country about Iraq, first by suggesting that Iraq was linked to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and then by trying to suggest that conditions there are better than they are. He repeatedly accused Cheney of distorting the facts to mislead the public." [Kansas City Star, 10/5/04]

"Probably for John Edwards the best moment was when he turned to Cheney and said, you know Mr. Cheney, I don't--Mr. Vice President, I don't think Americans can take another four years of this administration. Sort of a rendition of Ronald Reagan's famous line of are you better off. That clearly was one that he had been waiting to deliver. Obviously an effective line." [CNN, 10/5/04, 10:51]

"Mr. Edwards is normally known for his wide grin and boyish appearance, but he was serious and tough last night. If his main task was to show that he could stand up to the older and more experienced vice president, he did everything he needed to do, especially during the discussion of foreign policy." [Editorial, New York Times, 5/6/04] html?forumID=8&threadID=160970&s tart=0

Again, your recollection could simply not be more wrong.  And, unfortunately, so is Matt's recollection.

by bedobe 2006-12-24 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: In regards to the debate with Darth Cheney...

I think that Edwards lost the debate in the eyes of many committed Kerry/Edwards voters who wanted to see him tear Cheney a new one, and won the debate among undecided voters.

While I haven't seen a transcript of the debate again, I did recently see a replay of the infamous "Dean scream". And let me tell you, the actual scream was a pale, limp thing compared to the moment of mindless rage that appeared in the press coverage.

That brought back to mind the double standard that has developed between radical right wing policy stances, painted as moderate conservatism, and progressive policy stances, painted as radical left. We need firebrands in the House and Senate, to shift the terms of political debate in the legislature back toward the center. But for a broad based progressive coalition, we need more than firebrands alone.

And while I agree that a crass political calculation would have dictated a trip to CT late in October, that certainly would not have been any high minded act of progressivism. If there had been extra time available on the schedule, clearly an extra campaign stop for Kissell would have been the more progressive action to take.

by BruceMcF 2006-12-25 06:11AM | 0 recs
He should run we can find out what kind of fighting he'll do.

by MNPundit 2006-12-24 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: He should run

True enough.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive(?) John Edwards Should Run

John Edwards is not a Progressive. He may be an Economic Populist, but he's not a Progressive. He refuses to be called a Progressive himself so I'm not sure why trying to slap that label on him to score him some brownie points with real Progressives will work.I'm not trying to be a smart ass, but I think that's a little odd. It's like calling Barack Obama a Conservative when we know he's not.

Ya know?

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive(?) John Edwards Should Run

But we know Obama is a progressive?

Last time I checked we "progressives" didn't have a manifesto a la the labour party that politicians must sign or pledge to support in order to be called a certain term.

by adamterando 2006-12-25 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive(?) John Edwards Should Run

Two points:

1. Has someone directly confronted him and asked him if they can call him a 'progressive'?  

By the things he talks about and how he talks about them, he certainly sounds like a progressive to me.  Or were you looking for ideological purity on your #1 issue?  Saying Edwards is not a progresive to me seems a lot more like saying McCain is not a conservative than saying Obama is a conservative (whew...lots of comparisons) - McCain by his action and rhetoric recently has proven he's been at his core, a conservative.  Edwards, by his recent rhetoric and action has shown that 's he's a liberal (or progressive or whatever).  When someone is one of about 15 Americans whose within striking distance of the presidency, it's a lot easier to play it safe and go with what the CW tells you - Edwards is flying in the face of that, conducting politics the way I think we think he should - people-powered, progressive on the issues (tell me where he's not being progressive today?), and focused on expanding democracy and Democratic politics by highlighting the ability of a progressive message to win converts to liberal self-identification and voting habits, and thusly to win elections and build a progressive movement.  There's nothing more progressive than building a progressive movement - and nobody in the past two years (in my opinion) has done a better job with that.

2. Robert F. Kennedy, who is my all-time hero, and who I see shades of in Edwards, refused (actively, not just in that people in the public claimed it was so) to be called a liberal until latter in his (all-too-tragically-short) life.  He came around sometime in the AG years when he realized that what he believed was good old fashioned social liberalism (which included a healthy dose of economically populist liberalism) on so many levels, from civil rights to the duty of the privileged to equalize opportunities.  

He shied away from the "liberal" label not because of anything nefarious but because he didn't want people to believe that government was the first solution to every problem - believing instead that it was to be a bulwark of fairness, a guarantor of rights and liberties (among them economic justice), and provider of opportunity (not necessarily of outcomes), and something that represented the best in all of us as citizens.  As he got older he found that the term "liberal" suited those notions better than anything else, and joined with his elder brother in self-applying and allowing others to apply to him the term "liberal."  

So labels don't mean anything and everying.  For Edwards, like RFK, what matters is what they talk about, how they talk about it, and what they do.  I saw John Edwards down in New Orleans after the storm, and I didn't see Barbara Boxer there (I could be wrong).  I saw John Edwards at numerous labor dispute sites and working with rank-and-file union members on economic justice initiatives, where I didn't see Bernie Sanders (maybe at a Wake Up Walmart event in VT).  I saw John Edwards publicly admit in a very forthright and earnest manner, time and again, risking open-sided criticism by the purveyors of CW in the punditocracy, that his vote for the war in Iraq was wrong, morally and otherwise, and that to make up for such a grave error, he felt like he needed to push hard for a removal of US troops.  Remember, pulling out of Iraq didn't become politically popular solely because a majority of Americans sided that way - it took speaking out by leaders like John Edwards to push the majority in that direction.  And we owe people like him a debt of gratitude for using their bully pulpits to push toward an end this moral, financial, intellectual, and security catastrophe that is the Iraq War.

So am I behind Edwards as a progressive, as a candidate, and as the candidate to carry the progressive flag over the next two years?  Whole-heartedly and resoundingly 'yes'.  

We should be so lucky as to have candidates who position themselves as progressives because of their core beliefs and willingness to let them carry them toward some political promised land.  

I will be taking off of work Thursday afternoon to drive from south-central Wisconsin to Iowa to be at his event because I believe that John Edwards represents my highest ideals for this country, our political discourse, and not slightly, the office of the presidency.  

by Peter from WI 2006-12-25 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive(?) Hey, Can I carpool?

I'm on Green Bay.


I'm just kidding I have to work.


by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-25 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive(?) Hey, Can I carpool?

I was just in Neenah, but now I'm back home in Madison.  You totally could have carpooled if you didn't have to work.

by Peter from WI 2006-12-26 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: 1. Has someone directly confronted him and ask

He offered the info himself. Here's his Profile on the DNC Party Builder Blog.He soesn't want to be labled.

Party Affiliation: Democrat
Political Identification: Don't label me

Link..... public/gTVGc

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-25 08:53PM | 0 recs
Re: 1. Has someone directly confronted him and ask

I think that his selection from a multiple-choice data field on the DNC webpage (or more accurately, some staffer's choice) is not quite on the same plane as a reporter (or better yet, a questioner in a townhall meeting) saying "Now, as a liberal....[question]?"  and watching Edwards' reaction to the word liberal (or progressive or what-have-you).  

Interesting nonetheless.  

But on the DNC page, you can be either progressive or liberal I think.  Not both.  Maybe he's saying he's both by taking "Don't Label Me."

by Peter from WI 2006-12-26 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

" Towards the end of the campaign, he wouldn't even issue a statement against Lieberman.  He knows, as we do, that that was a real litmus test, and he chose them over us."

By the "Lamont" standard, there is no Democratic candidate who measures up.  I'm not sure that's valid standard to use.

Edwards has always been a DLC candidate and that's OK.

Time to focus or real issues though...unless next president tackles them, we're screwed.

1. Iraq - get out now.

  1. Energy/oil - eliminate oil imports.
  2. Health care - national health care.
  3. Deficit/Debt - get Debt/GDP to Carter era 30%.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-24 12:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run


by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 02:15PM | 0 recs
Clark was never viable...

his push for more troops in Iraq makes him even less viable today.  His failure to oppose initial Iraq invasion is his main problem. He could never and still can't articulate what his position was/is on Iraq.

His recent interview on NPR was totally pointless.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-24 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Clark was never viable...

He opposed the war.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 03:20PM | 0 recs
It doesn't seem he opposed the war!

It doesn't seem he opposed the war!

"Clark Says He Would Have Voted for War "
September 19, 2003
"Gen. Wesley K. Clark said today that he would have supported the Congressional resolution that authorized the United States to invade Iraq, even as he presented himself as one of the sharpest critics of the war effort in the Democratic presidential race." 0919-01.htm

SEPTEMBER 16, 2003
"Wesley Clark: The New Anti-War Candidate?
Record Shows Clark Cheered Iraq War as "Right Call"

"The possibility that former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark might enter the race for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination has been the subject of furious speculation in the media. But while recent coverage of Clark often claims that he opposed the war with Iraq, the various opinions he has expressed on the issue suggest the media's "anti-war" label is inaccurate. " 6-10.htm

by dk2 2006-12-24 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: It doesn't seem he opposed the war!


I remember that hit piece.

by jrb1968 2006-12-25 02:08PM | 0 recs
Re: It doesn't seem he opposed the war!

Damned quotes always get in the way...

"As for the political leaders themselves, President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt."

"ZAHN: You have no doubts then that weapons of mass destruction will ultimately be found, whether you find them hidden in Iraq, or find them in Syria?

CLARK: I think they will be found. There's so much intelligence on this. "

by Daaaaave 2006-12-26 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Clark was never viable...

Before the IWR vote, he testified in Congress in favor of action by Congress allowing the President to act on his own if United Nations action failed, saying that it would strengthen the hand of UN diplomacy, and warned of the risks of an invasion and argued against going to war except as a last alternative.

So its very plausible that his position would have been for the IWR and against the Iraq invasion itself, at the time of the IWR vote. Not having had to vote, he has since seemed to focus on the latter part.

by BruceMcF 2006-12-25 06:16AM | 0 recs
The thing about Lamont

is that it was impossible for him to win the Senate seat against Lieberman, because - with almost all Republicans voting strategically for Lieberman and against their own candidate - Lieberman only needed a relatively small fraction of Democrats, and having been in politics as long as he was, he had enough core support, enough of a base, to assure that he would win. There wasn't any number of endorsements or pounding of pavement that would have changed that.  The stars were aligned in Lieberman's favor. Maybe if some prominent Republicans had come to the support the GOP candidate (and bucked their own president) it would have made a difference, but barring that, Lieberman could not lose.

But Liebermanism had ALREADY lost. Lamont had already won that battle by his primary victory. The symbollic defeat of what Lieberman stood for - blind support for the war and the president - had already occurred.  I don't see much point in dissing Edwards or others for not adequately indulging in the afterglow of this symbollic victory.

by Rob in Vermont 2006-12-24 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Did Kerry work hard for Lamont?

Not that I think he has much chance, but just to set the record straight on the Lamont standard.

by BingoL 2006-12-24 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I believe he appeared more for Lamont, I don't recall when.

Of course, he was most useful as a drawcard (at least until the infamous skipped word in that speech) in New England. I doubt the people campaigning for an increased minimum wage in AZ would have taken Kerry over Edwards if it came down to a choice.

by BruceMcF 2006-12-25 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

"  4. Debt - get Debt/GDP to Carter era 30%. "

No, get the deficit down to Clinton Era - negative.

by antiHyde 2006-12-24 04:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

You are confusing debt and deficit. Debt was not entirely paid off under Clinton, and was, indeed, lower under Carter than it was under Clinton, because the debt under Clinton had the legacy of the first 12 years of spendthrift radical rightwing policies

And its easy to get the deficit down quickly, if you are willing to slam the brakes on the economy, but a mild deficit and strong economic growth reduces the debt/GDP ratio more quickly.

by BruceMcF 2006-12-25 06:22AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Sounds like Bushonomics to me.

And I'm not confused. I know the difference. Eliminating the debt would take a generation and would not be desirable anyway. Capital spending should be by debt. Building roads, schools, hospitals and yes, aircraft carriers, should be budgeyed over years. Giving tax cuts and borrowing for day by day expenses is like tithing to the church and buying your lunch on a credit card, and then borrowing from a second card to pay the first.

by antiHyde 2006-12-25 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Bushonomics is running massive deficits and spending them on foreign adventures, where they have little domestic impact while destroying wealth abroad. The same with tx cuts to the wealthy, where much of the money will be devoted to wealth accumulation rather than acting as an economic stimulus.

This late in the recovery, we would be having strong jobs and wage growth if the Bush economic policies were not so grossly irresponsible, we ought to have been running deficits that are lower than the growth rate of the economy, and those deficits should have financed government investment rather than government consumption for foreign military adventures in pursuit of vicious neo-conservative fantasies.

by BruceMcF 2006-12-25 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Exactly anti-Hyde.  One thought I have often had is to reform the federal budget so that it is like state and local budgets with an expense budget and a capital budget.  Expense budgets are for ongoing recurring expenses like govt ops, entitlements, education spending, absurd tax cuts by the Repubs, etc.  These should not be financed by debt.

Capital expenses - i.e those with tangible value like roads, school buildings, hospitals, aircraft carriers, etc can be financed through borrowing and can be amortized over their expected life.

This would serve a couple of purposes -

1 - Rationalize the federal budget process.

2 - Make it harder to finance tax cuts via debt.

I also believe it will be impossible to have any kind of activist government policies without first fixing, again, the federal budget situation left us by the Repubs.  It makes me mad but any program development/expansions is unsustainable over the long term without sound fiscal policies.

by John Mills 2006-12-25 05:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Those are good ideas, John Mills. I hadn't been aware that there were states with a rational budget process. My own state, Illinois, "balances" it's budget buying borrowing from it's own pension funds; sort of like balancing the budget by borrowing from Social Security, but worse because the State cannot print it's own money as a last resort. Budgets in Illinois' legislature are a result of a tug of war between parties for pork. When the Democrats are domininant, the tug of war is between the city of Chicago and "downstate"(everywhere else). When the Republicans are dominant, the tug of war is between the collar counties (R-dominated suburbs of Chicago) and downstate. Chicago still gets pork because even when (and especially when) the Democrats are a minority, they still have an awesome bloc of votes to trade to either R-faction. Tomorrow? Doesn't matter, pork today matters.

by antiHyde 2006-12-26 05:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

NY State, where I live, has a pretty screwed up budget as well.  I hope our new Gov will help straighten things out.  

However other states where I have lived in the past - Virginia and Oregon - use the expense and capital budget system very effectively.  

by John Mills 2006-12-26 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Long ago,I lived in Virginia, too. They had a lot of good ideas. Not having 47 (exaggeration) levels of overlapping government was one. Another was the simple line on your state income tax form where you added 50% for your county or city government. No third return to fill out and it kept regressive property taxes down. People there thought I was lying when I told themn I paid five times as much property tax in Illinois.

by antiHyde 2006-12-27 05:50PM | 0 recs
Edwards is not not not DLC

I've heard this a few times and I think it's a really inaccurate characterization.

by msnook 2006-12-24 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Matt -- The real question is will all the candidates in 2008 run campaigns based in transactional politics?  Or will any of them run a campaign that steps out of the transactional game - and embraces transformational politics.  Transactional "I'll give you a tax cut for your vote" politics is about cutting a deal with the most voters.  

One of the reasons Al Gore has become so relevant is that he has clearly quit transactional politics and has become a transformational leader on Iraq, and Global Warming.   But if he enters the race -- will he stay transformational?  Or suddenly being back in the world where he has something to lose (the Presdiency) doees he become transactional again?

Of the current field the least likely candidate to run a transformational campaign is Hillary Clinton.   Obama and Edwards are capable of running transformational campaigns -- so too is Vilsack.   I think Edwards is trying to find his way to that kind of candidacy -- but the pressure to stay transactional are tremendous.  I hope one of the candidates will reject transactional politics in their run for the Presdiency.  The country needs true transformational leadership.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-24 01:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

This is precisely what the country... what I'm hungry for: transformational leadership.  More specifically, a progressive populist brand of transformational leadership.  I think that the field is so wide open that a Democratic candidate willing to aggressively and strongly advocate (and define) a progressive agenda, with no wishy-washy triangulation, would be immediately catapulted to top-tier status (of course, likeability and charisma are, for better or worse, pre-requisites).

by bedobe 2006-12-24 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

You're right about that last point. I don't see Kucinich at the top of many peoples lists.

by adamterando 2006-12-25 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Precisely, that's exactly who I had in mind when I wrote that last sentence.  In another world, all things being equal, Kucinich would be the top choice for many of us.  His rhetoric and agenda are clearly transformational, he's clearly against the war and has a definitive plan to get out... given a laundry list of progressive action items, Kucinich would -- I bet -- meet most, er, nearly all, of those items.  However, we're not there and the intangibles -- presence, charisma and likeability -- count for a lot.  What's that old adage about Lincoln, that he would never get elected now, given our image centric culture.

by bedobe 2006-12-25 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I hope this is taken in the spirit that it is given -- but Kucinich I fear is a transactional liberal.  What I mean by that is that he has come up (like all of them) in transactional politics.   DO NOT GET ME WRONG -- I like him a lot.   But Dennis knows that he can run for President and say the things that make the left swoon and still get out in time to run for re-election to his house seat.  Gore on the other hand has left the bounds of elective office and is transforming the nation's thinking on Global Warming (as just one example) without desperately needing or trying to hold on to public office. Gore has evolved and Dennis has not yet done so.   Which does not mean that he can't or won't.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-25 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

So, specific characteristic mark a "transformational" leader in your estimation?  Your response may be worth a long post/diary, so don't feel obligated to answer it fully here.  Just to comment further on this, do you believe that a candidate must have spent sometime in the wilderness, away from the DC centers of power, before a candidate can become 'truly' transformational?  

For what it's worth, I agree, candidates like Kucinich or even Sharpton, know that they are not likely to get the nomination, thus they see their role as raising certain issues that the marquee candidates must respond to.  And, if that's all they do, that's fine -- we need more of that, specially on the Left, I feel.  

by bedobe 2006-12-25 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

That first sentence should read: So, what specific characteristics mark a "transformational" leader in your estimation?

by bedobe 2006-12-25 01:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I don't think spending time in the wilderness away from Washington is mandatory -- but I do think it helps.   Your point at the end of your comment about Kucinich and Sharpton says much more clearly  and fairly what I was trying to state.  I like them and I think they help move the other candidates -- but their self knowledge about their own prospects hinders any real ability to be truly transformational.    

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-25 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Another reason articulated here to like Edwards - clearly he has started to look at politics as transformational in and of itself.  Or maybe started to look at articulating his vision for political action as transformational.  

He's looking to talk about class and economic issues and the bedrocks of American life and our American dream (and what that means) in a way that no viable Democratic candidate has in a long time.  And as you pointed out, we can't have candidates who take that view of politics losing that transformational edge when they become candidates for real (e.g. Gore).  So far, the all-but-declated Edwards is one of about 10 or fewer people within a campaign of being the most powerful and influential person in the world.  He's got a lot to lose (but also, nothing real to lose) and he's acting like it.  Talking about poverty pisses off a few multinationals that control 40-65% of the nation's economic output and activity?  Too bad, it's too important not to talk about or else we cease to be a country where it's worth it to be president anyway.  

And the years away from the Washington political wilderness is right on.  Edwards hasn't spent the years away from politics, int he wilderness quite like Gore did though.  He's spent the past two years (say he spent it running for president if you like, and I won't object, but I'll take a broader view of it) working on the issues near and dear to his heart in a way outside of being an elected official that afforded him the chance to get up close and personal in ways that today's politicans can't.  He's been on the frontlines working on issues, instead of in the DC circuit, and that has brought to him a renewed vitality of self and message that can resonate, inspire, and impassion.  

And that's where you get transformational politics.

by Peter from WI 2006-12-25 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Correct about this:

Of the current field the least likely candidate to run a transformational campaign is Hillary Clinton.

It's no wonder grassroots activists are lukewarm to Hillary's candidacy. She doesn't inspire confidence that transforms politics. It's politics as usual and not ruffling feathers or rocking the boat for her.

Take Iraq for instance - she turns me off completely by her until recently very go-along manner whilst soldiers are dying. Can anyone honestly say Hillary has something transformational to add to the debate about America's future?

At least Clark, Obama, Vilsack and Edwards are trying and you get the sense that they're truly trying.

by rosebowl 2006-12-24 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I'm not a HRC supporter; however, to answer your question, gender immediately jumps to mind.  If she were to make a serious run for the nomination, obtain it, and win or loose, by definition (ie, gender), this very act alone (at this time in US history), would have a "transformational" effect on one aspect of America's future.

In terms of having a positive effect on the advancement of "progressive populism," I think you're right.  Her nomination -- given her recent ideological track record -- would certainly not advance that agenda.

by bedobe 2006-12-24 02:16PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Keep pushing this, Joe.  It's exactly right.  

I'm saying the same thing but from the opposite end, which is that a transformational leader has to be willing to brawl.  Lacking that and they aren't transformational.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 02:16PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

What exactly do you want?

Maybe a few cuss words now and then in a debate, I wish you would put in plain words what you want.

You want him to scream, shout, call names at the other candidates.

I don't, I am tired of that kind of crap and it means nothing. It takes a stronger person to know who they are and stand for that. I personally wouldn't think much of him, if because you send an email and tell him to get tough, then he started acting totally different, And you know what, most of you if he did start acting that way - you would say exactly that is was an act, is it real? Can we trust him?  BLAH BLAH BLAH.

He has more steel about him, to stay his own person and say we are better than this, he doesn't need to do the politics of lying and implying, like many are doing about Lamont.

He went to Lamont, called him and campaigned, and unless you can tell me exactly who he supposedly told he would come back to, then You really shouldn't even be bringing it up.

Who is this mystery person. Several of you, Tim T, and others keep saying someone was told.  Who is this someone? DO they exist?  Who are they, can't they say "I was told" for themself?

by dk2 2006-12-24 04:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I find these discussions about these candidates incredibly frustrating because these people seem so mediocre and calculating. I remember seeing, hearing and feeling John F. Kennedy give speeches. I especially remember the way he said "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." It was thrilling because he both reflected the mood of the country and gave greater voice to it. He was in sync with us while lighting the way to a future we all hoped would come, in the U.S. and abroad.

It was the kind of leadership that we need, inspirational leadership of the highest order. It don't know whether it's transformational or transactional. But I know it when I see it or hear it or feel it. The only time since then that I have felt this way was when Al Gore gave his speeches for a few years ago about the wreckage Bush was making of our country and our constitution BEFORE anyone dared speak out. So far, no candidate waiting in the wings can hold a candle to Kennedy or Gore, in my book.

by Nancy Bordier 2006-12-24 04:54PM | 0 recs
I know and see it in John Edwards!

by dk2 2006-12-24 04:57PM | 0 recs
Re: I know and see it in John Edwards!

I'm glad you do and hope that I will catch on.

I do have enormous respect Edwards for espousing the issue of poverty because it does not have much of a constituency except for the poor themselves. Championing this issue also makes him persona non grata in most political circles except the progressive camp.

Possibly Edwards is going to grow and mature and really get to the root of the problem, which in my view is the way that economic predators have derailed the promise of the free enterprise system and corrupted democratic government in order to pull it off.

The issue is not just the poor but the way that that neo-liberal economic excesses unnecessarily create inequalities between the rich and everyone else, with the poor getting the really short end of the stick.

If Edwards can conceptualize and articulate a plan to resurrect the free enterprise system on a level playing field so that it works not just for the rich but for the middle class, the working poor and the impoverished, he will hit the jackpot.

Raising the minimum wage and providing universal health care as he proposes are just band aids for an economic system that has gone awry, aided and abetted by corrupted elected officials in the pocket of their corporate campaign contributors.

by Nancy Bordier 2006-12-24 06:00PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Matt -- I understand and agree in most instances.  The one thing you may want to consider is that an African-American candidate who indicates he is ready to brawl is unlikely to be elected President.  In other words the bar is set in at a different level for Obama.  That's why I cut him more slack than you I think.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-24 06:57PM | 0 recs
Is Obama ready to brawl?

I don't see much in his history to date that reflects a willingness to get down and dirty with the opposition.  He's a brilliant speaker, no shortage of charm and charisma, and that unnamed quality that inspires people at speeches, but seriously, his record in the senate thus far is trimmed sails at the wrong moments, backstabbing the progressive cause at crucial points, and using his clout only to bludgeon fellow Dems.  

Until he proves whose side he's on, I don't trust him.  These last 2 years have been pretty disappointing.

by hz 2006-12-27 07:31AM | 0 recs
Least amount of pain

Joe, you know, and I know, that no one has ever won whom the voters did not perceive as offering them less pain than the alternative. In your considerable experience, when did you ever see the voters voluntarily choose sacrifice?

One must transact before one transforms.

Not wishing to post all over this thread, let me make an additional point or two about Matt's point about the "awful" Hillary. She was more liberal than her husband until age 45 and few people change after that. Her health care plan, which we have no reason to believe she has abandoned, would the greatest liberal victory since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Yes, she has certainly lived in a bubble of Secret Service protection, wealth and power. But which candidate in history with the presumed requisite amount of experience has not?

I like Gore, Edwards, and Kerry (whom I haven't heard say he's quit) better than Hillary. But "awful"? Gimme a break.

To repeat, perhaps I didn't fully understand your point, but trading tax cuts, full employment, health care, student loans and every other imaginable goodie for votes makes shitloads of sense to me. FDR and LBJ were transformational, and that's what they did.

by stevehigh 2006-12-24 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Least amount of pain

Steve of course politics is transactional -- but lately that's all it is.   How many of the pols running for President in 2004 were for the war because they really thought it was the right thing to do?  And how many of them calculated that with 75% of the American people supporting going into Iraq it was the transactional move to boost their Presidential aspirations?     You can take transactional politics too far - and both parties have.   Its pretty easy to conduct poll after poll to find out exactly what the American people want and then promote your candidacy by being for those things.  There are times -- (the war being one of them) when challenging the American people is the better course.   I am looking for a candidate who will challenge the American people instead of kissing their ass.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-24 07:14PM | 0 recs
I agree--in principle

Gore, I think, is out in front of the people and taking more political risk than polls indicate because Chevron is not a good enemy to have if your main goal is to stay in office.

I haven't met many who would rather lose than do something wrong although I'd like to.

What we need are radicals. Without a radical movement American politics has spun crazily to the right, with honest-to-god no-hyperbole fascists on the airwaves and treated like statesmen, or as the case with Coulter, stateswomen.

Picket line violence, the Watts riots, the Isla Vista bank-burning--these things all had a positive effect.

Frankly, I think politicians always will be a bunch of marionettes looking wall-eyed at the polls, so what we have to do is, change the polls. Liberals like Bayard Rustin, the young Nader, Cesar Chavez, Dr. King, David Harris, the pre-politics John Kerry, and--I'll mention a one-term congressman--Allard Lowenstein were people who changed the environment. Then the politicians followed along like little trained pigs.

A politician who tries to lead the public winds up out of office, and if he's really lucky, dead. The aforementioned Lowenstein did more good and empowered more activism out of office than in--and he wound up dead at 51. Fortunately, he's the last congressman to have been murdered, but there were many, including some who are still serving, that we might have spared more readily.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I gotta quit before I get that those seasonal affective mid-winter feelin' sorry for myself, it's a dirty old world, it could make a man cry, petite klong blues.

by stevehigh 2006-12-24 08:44PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree--in principle

The lurch rightward can be traced to the constant pressure of right-wing institutions on our media, either through buying up, buying off, or scaring off possible critics of the Mammon Way.  It's already been shown that the entrance of FOX News into an area boosts the GOP vote in that area by around 5%.  And when you've got nothing on the radio where you live but Limbaugh and his ilk, it warps people.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-26 04:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Joe's comment brings to mind a moment from the townhall-style presidential debate between Bush and Gore. A woman in the audience wanted to know how Gore's economic ideas really benefited her. She described her own particular circumstances and asked something like "How does your economic plan help me?"

Gore's answer didn't seem to satisfy her, because the policies he was pitching (e.g. protecting social security and making it easier for people to afford a college education), while logical and good for the commonweal, didn't specifically address her immediate needs.  I remember my brother, watching the debate with me, said it was too bad Gore just didn't say something like "Ma'am, you're right. Some of these policies really do not address your specific needs. But the reason I'm supporting them is because they are good for our country as a whole - they will give us a stronger future as a nation."    

by Rob in Vermont 2006-12-24 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I agree that your explaination is exactly right.

by bruh21 2006-12-24 09:21PM | 0 recs

I agree with your propositions regarding transactional vs transformational campaigns. Here are some further thoughts.

Only a truly people-powered campaign can be exclusively transformational. And even there, at a certain point scope for compromises enters the picture.

Therefore, we not only need a people-powered campaign, but also the following:

  1. a leader with deep conviction
  2. someone with the wherewithal to overcome the dependence on and hence the influence of the institutional agents.

In other words, we need all three of: the right rubber, the  right road, and the right horsepower. I think that Al Gore fits the bill almost perfectly. In 2000, the title of being party's defacto nominee evidently and expectedly came with certain obligations. But, by running a grassroots campaign, he'd be relatively shackle-free. He himself said a few years back that he'd wage a grassroots-based campaign, should he run again.

by NuevoLiberal 2006-12-24 11:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Personally, I think Edwards is a serial panderer. One moment he's railing against Walmart, the next moment he's rushing to buy a Playstation 3 from where, Walmart! What gives?

Matt is right about Edwards not having a central set of convictions that defines him. All his talk about poverty rings hollow to me - its more like a way for him to drum up support for his presidential campaign, not so much for the issues at hand.

It was just only recently that Edwards was a DLC type candidate, lets not forget that.  

by rosebowl 2006-12-24 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I'd like to see a little evidence about him (you said "him") going to Wal Mart for the PS3.  As I recall it was an overzealous staffer who used Edwards' name.  Get your facts straight.

by Vox Populi 2006-12-24 01:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Yeah, that is a bullshit comment.

by Robert P 2006-12-24 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Call it what you want, but Edwards certainly doesn't inspire me for all his talk about poverty. He just doesn't.

Until he attacks the structural elties who favor desttructive policies that cause poverty in this country and elsewhere as Matt put it succinctly, all this is cheap talk from Edwards.

Edwards is yet to make that leap. He surely has the potential to do so.

by rosebowl 2006-12-24 02:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

rosebowl: Who is your candidate? And where does s/he stand on the poverty issue?  It's an important issue to me!

Also, you left out a lot of details of that Walmart non-event, which was cleared up immediately by the Edwards family.

Unfortunately, factless opinions to attack any candidate, yours, mine or whoevers...hurts the blogger community more than the candidate.

We are better than this :)

by catchawave 2006-12-24 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

So your only issue is poverty right? Poverty is nothing but rhetoric coming from Edwards.

As Matt clearly states, Edwards almost never attacks the institutional elites or system that are the root cause of poverty in this country. Yeah, its ok to talk about poverty, but Edwards in the same vein is cozying up with DLC elites like Wynn to fight poverty? What kind of two-faced mantra is this?

Until Edwards demonstrates a consistent drive to make his "friends" very uncomfortable, he's no progressive. Talk is cheap.

by rosebowl 2006-12-24 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Dude, he started at think tank called the "Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity"  They write policies to fight poverty, help the middle class and make college affordable. To fight poverty he teamed up with Habitat for Humanity, Ted Kennedy, The International Rescue Committee... for fuck's sake, the guy won the PAUL WELLSTONE AWARD! (link)

[yes, I know, facts are stupid things]

Rosebowl: San Diego is German for Whale's Vagina.
us: No it's not.
Rosebowl: Yes it is.
us: No, actually it's Spanish, isn't it? For Saint Diego?
Rosebowl: Hm. Nope. I think it's... no.
us: Actually, I'm pretty sure - founded by missionaries.
Rosebowl: We'll agree to disagree, then.

by Shank 2006-12-24 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

So what? Typical condescending attacks from you guys. Is poverty the only issue Americans care about in this day and age? Gosh, sometimes it seems Edwards people/supporters think his "poverty" issue is the beginning and end to all that matters in America. A get-out-of-jail trump card. Hello, what world are you living in?

Where is Edwards consistent voice on Iraq? I think I know- "poverty" cures all the ills in this country.

by rosebowl 2006-12-24 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Freed from fear of holding on to his Senate seat, Edwards moved towards honesty and took up the "Two Americas" theme.

Freed from Kerry's inner circle of fear, Edwards began saying plainly that there were musts.  Universal Health Care is a must.  Honesty about how much financial trouble we're in is a prerequisite for any policy changes.  Withdrawal from Iraq is a must.  Now.  Scraping the Bankruptcy bill is a must, and more.

After seeing the need for transformational change across the entire country when running for the White House, he had the good fortune of not going back into the DC bubble.  

When he left Washington, he realized that the pace of change is not enough to fix what is breaking and already broken. He's fed up and we're going to see him fighting - because if he won't fight, we won't win and he knows it.

by dereau 2006-12-24 01:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I think dereau may be right about Edwards seeing the need for transformational change == that's why I am think he has a real chance in the race and may indeed break the bonds of transactional politics.  Time will tell.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-24 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run
Shakespeare's Sister seems to think so. SS calls Edwards the antidote to Dubya - she quotes Political Wire:
The subtext of the Edwards campaign will be that it's not enough to represent Americans who have been locked behind walls of power, you need to tear down those walls and deal head-on with issues of poverty, job creation and health care accessibility, the three prime impediments to expanding and strengthening the middle class. While others will try to craft the perfect Iraq policy, Edwards will take the more emotionally satisfying approach of bringing 40,000 troops home immediately and the rest as soon as possible.
by dereau 2006-12-24 02:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Once again. He's not a Progressive. He's an Economic Populist which I love but I think we are lying to ourselves by calling him a Progressive. Progressive are Socially Liberal and Pro-Equality. Just because he takes photos with Blacks doesn't mean he cares about them as a race. For him it's all economic.Blacks just happen to be there.

We will end up pissed off if we keep lying to ourselves by calling him a Progressive when he's not.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Well, I'm a moderate, so I can give JRE a lot of wiggle room :)  So far, he is the ONLY candidate I can score a 100% agreement with the issues important to me.  Also, the DLC and DNC don't bother me as much as others because I know there bigger evildoers than them, namely the GOP and RNC!

by catchawave 2006-12-24 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run


I really like Edwards. He is my second choice this time around as opposed to my first in 2004. I just don't like it when we lable someone something they are not and then demand that he deliver on what we lable him which is why it's dangerous to call him a Progressive when he's not.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 01:45PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

That's a troll-like comment, my friend.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 02:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Transactional politics breeds serial panderers.  They are all serail panderers.  

When Bush was taking us to war and something like 75% of the American people supported going into Iraq -- transactional politics kicked in -- it was an easy choice for a transactional politician seeking the Presidency to be for the war.    Transformational leadership looked at the 75% in support of the war -- and decided "hell no"  I am going to say its wrong and try to lead the country back on the right path -- EVEN IF IT MEANS I MAY LOSE.

On that note let me point out the Howard Dean was seen as a pragmatic DLC type before he ran for President and opposed the War.  

Poverty is a transformational issue -- no transaction with the voters will solve it.  

Edwards is touching an issue that demands transformational leadership -- it does not mean he's the guy -- but its a start.

As for the WalMart thing.   More likely it went something like this.   Edwards comes out strong against Wal-Mart.   He turns to one of his aides one day and says -- "oh man, I got to get my kid a Playstation 3 -- can you someone to go out and get one for me while I am on the road this week"   Followed by "YOU GOT IT AT WAL-MART?  ARE YOU CRAZY?!

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-24 01:35PM | 0 recs
And note that because the media likes him... didn't turn into a week-long story. In fact, Edwards' explanation -- a volunteer did so by mistake -- was right in the lead of the AP's story from the start.

by MeanBoneII 2006-12-24 03:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Let me separate myself from those who oppose Edwards as a vialble candidate.

I like him. I think he would make a great President or Vice President. I am supporting a real Progressive named Barack Obama in the Primaries if he announces a bid. If he doesn't, I will support the regular Democrat John Edwards like I did in 2004. I just don't think we should be calling him a Progressive because we will be highly dissapointed when he does not deliver on Progressive Issues.

As for the Walmart crap. That's so not going to work. If that's all people have against him, ha ha ha .........

Let the balloons drop today because The Democrats Win in 2008!

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 01:43PM | 0 recs

Barack Obama is an excellent performer, but I distrust him for the top job.

Why? Because he's a cypher, in his own words "a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." What leads to my distrust is not that he's unwilling to take a stand on any issue of substance, or that he has a habit of reiterating right-wing stereotypes about Democrats -- although those are annoying -- it's that he's deliberately and consciously crafting himself as a vessel for unfulfilled political desire, a non-reciprocating repository for the Public's most heartfelt hopes. I find it impossible to believe that this is not a matter of calculation, and I find it to be quite a turn-off.

In essence, his position amounts to "I'm Barak Obama, and I endorse my popularity, and want to support your belief in me to do Good Things."

It's a smart, risk-averse tactic to take for now, and he's perhaps a convincing enough player to pull it off through most of the pre-primary heat. An Obama for President campaign would be a sure hummdinger, but I find this makes me nervous and pessimistic about his potential as a leader. I don't want yet another actor president.

And I don't want another Dem President who goes into a debate proposing a compromise in the name of civility, and then facing obstinate conservatives, agrees to a further compromise to his proposed compromise because he's already wearing the "civil debate" bipartisan cape worn by cowards.

by dereau 2006-12-24 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Proof? Yeah, Proof?

You're entire response was birthed out of your own imagination. You literally made up your own comment as if he has said it.

That speaks worlds to me.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 02:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Proof? Yeah, Proof?

No. That quote is in his new book.  
Have you read it?
Do you google? Try. Try reading this.
You literally ignore ignore inconvenient facts.

That speaks worlds to me.

by dereau 2006-12-24 05:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Proof? Yeah, Proof?

No. That quote about him being a blank screen is in his new book.  
Have you read it?
Do you google? Try.
Try reading this.
You literally ignore ignore inconvenient facts.

That speaks worlds to me.

by dereau 2006-12-24 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Picking up where JoeTrippi left off, I found this blog post by Edwards about taking on power centers like Sallie Mae and Credit Card companies.

He's naming names

Just like with the bankruptcy bill, we aren't seeing action on Capitol Hill because financial companies are huge campaign contributors. In 2000, one of George Bush's biggest donors was credit card giant MBNA. In 2004, it was the owner of Ameriquest's turn.

I have a hunch that when Delaware Joe goes down in flames he's going to be asked by his paymasters and try to take Edwards out with him.

by dereau 2006-12-24 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Naming names = balls

by Peter from WI 2006-12-25 07:44PM | 0 recs
The emergence of a progressive champion

I can relate to this post; I might have written something similiar a few years ago, when I was a Dean guy. But I've been watching Edwards closely for the past year, and I'm heartened by his evolution. Some of the comments above mine are absurd: (Edwards a DLCer? Must be news to the unions that are rallying around him.) Other comments reflect an unfamiliarity with his evolution over the few years.

Out of a combination of conviction and shewdness, he has taken a solid left turn. His move to the left has at times been cautious, but it has been unmistakable and sustained. It had it roots in his 04 campaign, when he became the first major candidate since Jesse Jackson to make economic justice his signature issue. He was a populist before populism was cool. (Stoller wants risk? I think making ending poverty your central goal in this political climate would qualify.) Then came his disavowal of his vote for the IWR; before him no political figure of his stature had said simply, "I was wrong." And today on Iraq he wants to begin withdrawing troops immediately. Obama doesn't, Clinton doesn't, Clark doesn't (or does he? It's not clear.) The best way to leave, Edwards says, is to leave. The media might not be making much of Edwards's leave-now position, but they will be, in about four days.

But a presidential campaign isn't all about substance, is it? It's about tone, style, tenor. Stoller questions his killer instinct. I've seen criticism like this elswhere on the web. He's too nice, people say. But it's that niceness that partly accounts for amazing high approval ratings (and low disapproval ratings.) Who else has been through a national campaign and emerged with negative in the twenties?  People like the guy. For someone taking on Big Money, a happy populist persona (which happens to be genuine) is perfect. Edwards is well-suited to defend and deflect the inevitable charges of class-warfare. Stoller wants Edwards to call out the "bad actors." Well, he's been calling out on criminal and concentrated wealth and its patrons in Congress for years now. I worry that too many people on the sphere fetishize name-calling and pugilism. Believe me, conservatives would rather face an angry-seeming, frothing-at-the-mouth name-caller than Edwards. I think they'd rather face anyone than Edwards.

Don't get me wrong, Edwards is no messiah; he's merely the man best suited to lead a progressive revival.

by david mizner 2006-12-24 02:16PM | 0 recs
Re: The emergence of a progressive champion

I'm open-minded.  I've seen a lot from Edwards, but it was shocking to have that staffer tell me that one of his main allies in the House was Al Wynn.  It's awfully difficult to take someone seriously when that's the response you get on their signature issue.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The emergence of a progressive champion

I too cannot stand Al Wynn-D MD-04. Was this a statement by a Wynn or Edwards staffer?
I would venture to say that Edwards National Journal ratings were well to the left of Wynn.

Whatever the case, I firmly believe that John Edwards is a Progressive and I have followed him/his voting record/his Progressive platform statements via e-mail since 2003.

I doubt that I will change my mind that Edwards is the most Progressive and most electable candidate of the current group of candidates.

by Predictor 2006-12-24 02:45PM | 0 recs
An Edwards staffer

I was there.  Pretty jarring experience.

by Pachacutec 2006-12-24 03:54PM | 0 recs
Re: An Edwards staffer

Did anyone call the staffer out on this?

Like saying "Are you serious?" And then take them to task?

by adamterando 2006-12-25 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: An Edwards staffer

Matt voiced his objections and concerns at the time.  Ezra Klein had an alternate take that he introduced with some comments I candidly had trouble connecting to Matt's previous points, but that was just my experience.  

The meeting was relatively brief and not geared toward having this kind of strategic conversation, from Mrs. Edwards' point of view, and we got as far as we could, with statements of intent all around to follow up.  For reasons I don't quite understand yet, Mrs. Edwards people did not do any follow up as they stated they would, though for my part, I did call back to thank them for their hospitality.

All of this recollection is subject to the filter of my own experience and the passing of time.  But Matt did try to get his ideas and concerns across during the meeting.

by Pachacutec 2006-12-25 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Edwards a Progressive?  Why does he have to be labeled because he has a true concern for the poverty in this nation?

He knows that even with the massive trade deficits and limited employment, this country still has huge potential and is still one of most the resourceful nations in the world, but has an entire segment of the population of this country living on less than $10,000 a year or at Third World status.  Katrina laid tht naked fact open to the world.

Edwards isn't a Progressive, he's a human being that cares about his fellow man regardless of his position in life.

by Jumelkay 2006-12-24 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I like this post.  I worked for Edwards in Raleigh from March 2003 through March 2004, and I readily concede to being really, really biased.  But Matt raises interesting issues and I'm always glad to see my guy get the attention.

Still, I want to discuss and clarify a few points.

First, we shouldn't worry about Nick Baldick's opinions on the issues.  Besides my personal experience with him, he came up and spoke at NYU Law last fall, and he said two things that I think are on point.  One, he said he thinks the time is over for incremental improvements, and that we need to think big.  (I'm assuming it's not news that this will be the style of the Edwards 2008 campaign.)  Two, he said that he has really only three main issues: he's pro-choice, he supports universal health care, and  he supports energy independence for both environmental and security reasons.  I don't know what he did at Dewey Square and I don't know how much an advisor's political opinions are relevant, but we're just not dealing with Joe Lieberman here.  On a personal level, I've always found him to be much more involved in campaign mechanics than policy, though he and I didn't work together unbelievably closely and I shouldn't be taken as gospel here.  I know it's fun to attack Democratic operatives who do corporate work, but with Nick Baldick the concerns are misplaced.

Next, I don't see how his actions on behalf of Wake Up Wal-Mart don't count as political risks.  I know plenty of moderate Republicans who think he's absolutely crazy to oppose Wal-Mart, and I'm genuinely concerned this could get him into trouble in the general election.  (Though I do think we'll win.)  What else does he need to do?  I ask this as a serious question: I have no idea what Matt's looking for here.

Finally, I really, really hope John Edwards' political opponents underestimate his operation.  To cast his staff's competence in doubt based on a one-on-one off-the-cuff comment is an unnecessary cheap shot.  John Edwards has one hell of a political staff.

by terry312 2006-12-24 02:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

To cast his staff's competence in doubt based on a one-on-one off-the-cuff comment is an unnecessary cheap shot.  John Edwards has one hell of a political staff.

Staff member was just being truthful.

Wynn went out to IA and OK in '04 to campaign for Edwards, and invited him to Largo MD in MD-04 to rally support. While he hasn't endorsed Edwards yet for '08, Wynn is already on record as very supportive of Edwards' efforts to date.

"His prospects are very good. It remains to be seen if he will run, but he would make an excellent candidate. He has been talking about a lot of issues, looking at Africa, AIDS and poverty, that would make him a good candidate," Wynn said.

U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, D-12th, also declined to endorse Edwards outright. He said, however, that the themes Edwards has highlighted since leaving office - particularly poverty - make for a good platform for any Democrat running for higher office.

by dblhelix 2006-12-25 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Here's an example of transactional versus tranformational: video of the speech

"There's a difference between politicians who come before you and say, "I'm in the right place on your issue, you should support me" and those like Paul Wellstone who believed, right here, that everything you do, every single day... (applause)
At the risk of insulting every single politician in America, I want to say something, if a politician can't stand there and say the word "Union" you shouldn't support him."

That's from Edwards accepting the Paul Wellstone Award from the AFL-CIO.

by Shank 2006-12-24 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Of course he should run... anyone that can get some viability and make the race last beyond 2 weeks should run... The longer the nomination takes place, the better off the eventual winner will be as far as battle tested is concern.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-24 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Ok, I'm confused, because I was under the assumption that Matt was big time for Edwards...

So, Matt, please tell us... of the likely candidates, who do you support.  If it is Gore, who do you support if he doesn't run?

Just curious.

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-24 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

If I recall, Matt does "like" Edwards, but Matt finds Clark more compelling...

In Matt's "bar fight" test, I think that he liked Clark just a hair better than Edwards.

by bedobe 2006-12-24 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Interesting as my favorite pick would be Edwards/Clark.

by Predictor 2006-12-24 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I vote for Edwards in the dkos straw polls, but I'm not big time for anyone.  I want a progressive candidate.

I could go with Clark again but I'd have to be persuaded that he understands where he went wrong last time.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Well Clark said he got into the race too late last time. And yet he's just done the same thing again this time around - no staff, no money, nowhere in the polls. So he well and truly failed that competency test.

by kundalini 2006-12-24 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Last time he didn't enter the race until what, September?  It's not quite January yet, we'll see what happens in the next few months.

by Vox Populi 2006-12-24 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

To me, other than Gore, if a candidate does NOT get into the race within 4 weeks of Obama, HRC and Edwards declaring, they might as well not enter... Edwards is way far ahead in organization, HRC and Obama have the media spotlight and all 3 are going to be tapped into fundraising.... Any candidate needs to get in quick after those 3 declare or they probably won't be able to make that much of a dent.

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-25 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

What do you feel he did wrong last time?  I know what I think, i am curious to hear your thoughts.

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-25 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

As a candidate Edwards is good viable one.  Has what it takes, no skeletons, knows the ropes and has a good grasp of the issues and what the country needs.

by Jumelkay 2006-12-24 02:35PM | 0 recs
Joe Trippi

Why don't you stop holding forth (however eloquently) and go to work for Edwards?

by david mizner 2006-12-24 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Trippi

First I am not sure I have another Presidential in me -- second if I do, I don't want to work for a transactional politics as usual campaign -- even if you showed me in a crystal ball that it was going to win -- what's the point?    I count no one out at this point -- no one -- not even Vilsack.   I got in my car and drove to Burlington, VT about this time in the 2004 cycle to go work for a guy named Howard Dean. We did not win -- but we helped transform things -- I am proud of that.   Hillary is much more formidable than many here believe she is.   But Obama, Edwards and/or one or two others could get by her.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-24 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

There's a great moment in Stephen King's novel, IT, where the children realize that nobody in the town is going to help them, not any of the adults, not even when they see a child being beaten to death in the middle of the street.  The adults yell for it to stop, just for a moment, and then they blush and lose their nerve and quietly go back in doors.  It's unnerving, the sudden realization that the whole town is wrong.

That's how I felt back in 2002 during the run-up to the Iraq War.  The adults, the Democrats that should have spoken out about what a stupid, deadly wild goose chase we were about to undertake, just turned away.  Or cheered it on.

It was more shocking to see that from Democrats than it was to watch the headlong rush into insanity by Republicans, because, really, it was a Republican idea.  So many powerful Democrats, however, couldn't even find the nerve to raise the necessary questions.  The few who did were left out to dry.

I really just don't know what people are talking about when they talk about "progressive values."  I used to be really gung-ho about universal health care, but now, when I hear a Dem talking about that, I just want to scream, "BUT WHY AREN'T YOU DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THIS GODAWFUL MESS IN IRAQ!"  To even address issues like that, now, seems like a red herring, something to distract us from the real horror.  I resent it when Democrats shirk from their responsibility on this.

So, whoever wants my support in 2008 better be the guy ready to hyper-ventilate just a little bit, enough anyway to shout, "Enough is enough!"  Those Democrats that try to find safety in the herd mentality of the entrenched Democratic machine are fools if they can't identify this.  

We need adults who can take responsibility.  There is something terribly wrong with our country right now.  We have been afraid too long.  We need somebody with the balls to speak truth to power.

I'm willing to give Edwards the benefit of a doubt, depending on how he comes out of the starting gate.  If he turns into just another Hillary clone, well, I'll wait for a better candidate.  Right now, the pickings are very, very slim.

by Dumbo 2006-12-24 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I am with milzner and aldon on this. Edwards is still evolving, aren't we all, but he is the only one talking about economic inequality.

This is the issue in our nation. It's overwhelming importance is hidden by the War in Iraq but...

The cracks and fissures in our society's economic stratification are going to break through to the surface, just as they did in FDR's time, and Edwards appears to be working towards preparing for that.

As to Matt's 'Put the boot in' attitude...

I'm down with that. It's been my meme for quite some time.

But there are many ways to fight. I will be watching Edwards closely re this. I'd really like to see Gore/Edwards or even Edwards/Obama.

No Hillary.

No Obama at the top of the ticket. He cannot win and in this all my black progressive friends agree.

As Matt has pointed out we need to win this time. The stakes are too high to take a chance on the racism in this nation being an illusion.

It's not.

by Pericles 2006-12-24 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

"he is the only one talking about economic inequality. This is the issue in our nation."

No it's not.  Nice to shoot for but not a survival issue. We have some actual survival issues to deal with.

1. Iraq - terrorism - national security. Edwards loses here since he voted for Iraq war and is kind of wishy washy now about what to do. Obama was against it and has called for US to start withdrawing now.

2. Energy/oil - root of Iraq and terrorism.  With US loss in Iraq and Afghanistan, next president has to be big on cutting US oil imports to zero. Obama voted for 40 mpg which is key.

3. National health care - has to be for national health care, it's eating US economy alive, 16% vs. Europe 8%.

4. National Debt/Trade deficit - tied to oil (50% of trade deficit) and war (50% of national debt).

by BrionLutz 2006-12-24 03:20PM | 0 recs
40,000 troops out now - is what you call

wishy washy?

June 23 2006 Wash Post:
"On a day when the Senate defeated two Democratic amendments aimed at forcing President Bush to begin pulling out of Iraq, Edwards told a National Press Club audience the administration has made a mess in Iraq. He said he favors an immediate withdrawal of 40,000 troops and called for all combat forces to be gone in the next 12 to 18 months."

"We desperately need to restore the moral core of leadership," he said. "It is absolutely no secret that our credibility in the world has been enormously damaged and tarnished over the last six years. . . . It is absolutely essential, if we are going to defeat these global jihadists, that we restore America's credibility in the world."

"The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee had sharp words for his party, saying Democrats must stand for big ideas, backbone and leadership. "I do not believe in a party obsessed with incrementalism, half-measures, positions based on yesterday's polls," he said." tent/article/2006/06/22/AR2006062201672. html

by dk2 2006-12-24 04:23PM | 0 recs
Edwards "outnow" vs "inthen"

Edwards is "wishy washy" because he voted for Iraq before he spoke out against it...four years later.

Even Republicans like Gordon Smith are on the "get out of Iraq" bandwagon now. I give Edwards as much credibility for his Iraq stand as I do Republican Gordon Smith...hint...not much.

Edwards will get whipsawed by McCain on Iraq.

Obama on the other hand can counter McCain by saying he (Obama) was right on Iraq and McCain was wrong and whatever "experience" McCain can claim in Vietnam or in Washington still lead McCain to backing the worst mistake in US foreign and military policy in the last 50 years.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-24 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards "outnow"

No, actually, Edwards versus McCain on Iraq would go like this:

Edwards: I was wrong to have trusted this Republican Administration and this war. I regret voting for this Republican war.  I regret my mistake but I learned from my mistake... unlike my opponent.

He favored escalation, he didn't just NOT learn from his mistake, he, he wanted more of George Bush's war.  It's insanity. He must think we're stupid.

McCain:  I don't think America is stupid.

Edwards: And that's why we won't make the same mistake twice.

by dereau 2006-12-24 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards "outnow"

"Edwards: I was wrong to have trusted this Republican Administration and this war. I regret voting for this Republican war.  I regret my mistake but I learned from my mistake... unlike my opponent."

A presidential candidate admitting he was "wrong" and made "mistakes" and has "regrets" on Iraq is not likely to win an election...why should he?

A candidate who can say he was right about Iraq is much stronger...and...frankly...going to make a better president.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-24 06:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards "outnow"

Disagree.  Edwards is squarely in the mainstream.  His journey is felt by the voters we need most to identify with the democrats enough to vote for us.  He was in favor of the war in the beginning but lost confidence in the rationale, the management, the adminstration, and now sees that it can only end badly or badly after more dead kids. People identify with that.

by dereau 2006-12-30 09:55PM | 0 recs
I disagree with you totally

MC Cain - I don't think so. John Edwards isn't going to let McCain or anyone else back him in any direction much less "whipsaw" saw him. You are way off base in that thought. But, you can dream if you want to.

Anyway, so are you saying any change in someones view is - wishy washy.  If so you may not have a candidate to go with. There isn't a human being alive that hasn't changed a view at sometime or another. So keep that in mind when you choose who you are for, because someone maybe able to remind you that your candidate changed his mind on something, somewhere, sometime. (cause remember it only takes one time and you become wishy-washy).

And on top of that I am glad for the person that can look at something, even though they may have had a strong position on it, and after (in this case 4 years you say)  they realize a mistake and have the guts and courage to say so and change the direction of the position.

After all isn't "STAY THE COURSE" whats wrong with most politicians anyway. THey aren't big enough to re-evaluate and change when necessary.

I personally am tired of the old ways, some days the bloggers are implying he is out dated and the new generation is wanting Obama, a change from old politics. Then when Edwards has an educated change of heart he is wrong.

Which is it, the old way or the new way?

More over: many Americans were for the war, for fighting any thing preceived as terroism off shore, not at home. Many Americans still feel that way, they would rather fight there then here, many Americans don't have a problem with giving the commander in chief the power to go to war as it was preceived as a necessary thing to do to keep violence off shore.

Many Americans have a problem of how the war was handled after the vote given to have the power.

So the outcome is for the war effort but not for the outcome at the Bush Admins handling of it.

SO try if you will to shove that down John Edwards throat, but most Americans won't see it that way. They will see through another candidates effort to sling mess, when they know all along even though Bush was given a go ahead, that in the real world he didn't have to go just because the vote said yes, he could have chosen not to go to Iraq regardless.

SO the blame is in the handling of the war and not in the authority to go.

by dk2 2006-12-24 05:49PM | 0 recs
Edwards vs. McCain

"John Edwards isn't going to let McCain or anyone else back him in any direction much less "whipsaw" saw him."

McCain will run him through the "shredda" on Iraq.  Edwards voted for it and, four years later, when it blows up, he's against it. That is identical to Republican Senator Gordon Smith.

McCain will accurately point out that Edwards position does not seem based on intelligent analysis but upon the poll numbers.

Edwards will be a deja vu of "first I was for it, then I was against it"...and that's a losing position.

"SO the blame is in the handling of the war and not in the authority to go.'

Nope...the blame goes to those who voted to go. Even if WMD, 911/Iraq and Iraq clear and present danger were true (they were not), going into Iraq before finishing the real job of getting Bin Laden/al-Queda in Afghanistan was an obvious strategic and tactical mistake.

Kerry and Edwards got creamed on their Iraq positions in 2004 and nothing has really changed that vulnerability for them...or Hillary for that matter.

I see a lot of the netrooters making a distinction over Lamont-Leiberman, attacking Obama for not campaigning for Lamont.  Yet they oppose Obama who was against invading Iraq before the war which was the basis of their support of Lamont.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-24 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards vs. McCain

Your strident support for Sen Obama and persistent attack of our other Democratic hopefuls is not doing your candidate any credit.  As for your constant pushing of the fact that now Sen Obama was against the Iraq invasion when he was a state legislator, I think that was an easy call for him at that point, since: there were no political consequences for him at that time.  The real test and a fairer comparison on your part would've been if Sen Obama had had to cast a vote in the US Senate at that time.  Please allow for a differing point of view about the 2008 Dem candidates from your fellow progressives -- here and elsewhere -- without your caricaturing and attempts at brow beating them to your view.  

by bedobe 2006-12-24 06:58PM | 0 recs
Indeed, there are many ways to fight.

You can fight aggressively, but that's not always smart when the right-wing machine can distort it and make you look angry.

You can fight persuasively, and make it much harder for your opponents to label you.

by MeanBoneII 2006-12-24 03:22PM | 0 recs

If you never look to the general public liek you're willing to pick a fight with the risk of some skin, you're weak.  Period.

I like Edwards for all the reasons discussed, but I fear he's such the idealistic Southern gentleman that he can't and won't ever gut an opponent while smiling all the while.

Attacking does not require one to be shrill.  But it does require one to be ruthless and indefatigable.  The rest is posturing, and at worst, old school liberal dilettantism.  

by Pachacutec 2006-12-24 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: No

I really don't think you can say Edwards won't fight. The comment in his acceptance speech for the AFL-CIO award sure sounds like fighting words to me. I am prepared to wait and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Economic stratification is the survival issue. For the nation and progressives both.

It's the issue which people feel.

It's the wedge issue which allows us address:

The Iraq War and the reason it was started.



People of all classes except the Upper Tenth, in Teddy Rooseveldt's era that meant those in the top 10% of income today it means those in the top .1 of 1%, are being ground down by the same forces who put Bush in power to cut their taxes, to start the war in Iraq, to allow the MI complex to loot the Treasury.

The social contract is breaking down before your very eyes and everyone pretends all is well.

It's not.

Is Edwards the one to begin the push back on this?

Early to say but, again, he's the only one who brings it up.

That makes him worth working with at this stage.

by Pericles 2006-12-24 04:25PM | 0 recs
He'll fight ideas

But will he fight people.  

Politics at this level is very personal.  If he won't get his hair a little mussed while sticking the knife in the other guy, while smiling all the while, he's not ready or he's not serious.

Reagan could do it, and did.  I have not seen any evidence Edwards can or will do it.  And I'm quite wishful that he can and will.

But the evidence is not there.  At least, not yet.

by Pachacutec 2006-12-24 04:28PM | 0 recs
Re: World-transformers

  Reagan DID do that very well,  because he was an actor invested in the figurehead role- and not much more. So is that what people are ultimately looking for here?
  I.e.. a progressive Reagan  who can- first and foremost- make you feel an aura of invincibilty, (because he's not too worried about the actual details involved.)

Is it possible Gore became more relevant in part because WE stopped asking him to play that "bar-fighter" role for us? And he could finally just focus on the wonky stuff that he's always done really, really well?

   Dunno- these are rhetorical questions. It's so rare that you get to interrogate Incan conquerers...

by sb 2006-12-25 11:27AM | 0 recs
Economic inequality...survival issue? No.

Important but not a US survival issue.

Iraq/Terrorism/National Security, Energy/Oil, National Health Care and Deficit/Debt are survival issues.

Edwards emphasis on economic inequality puts his main theme way down on the priority list of issues the next president must deal with.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-24 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Economic inequality...survival issue? No.

This issue threatens our nation as none of the others do for it is an internal issue that will prevent us from coming together to deal with the other problems which face us.

.1 of 1% of the populace control 80% of the assets of the nation. Edwards recognises this for what it is: A deadly threat.

The fact that you and millions of other Americans don't doesn't make it less of a threat to the social order.

Current economic 'prosperity' masks this problem but when the next serious downturn occurs millions will find themselves in real trouble and this issue will instantly become what it truly is.

The formost issue of the day.

by Pericles 2006-12-24 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Economic inequality...survival issue? No.

"This issue threatens our nation as none of the others do for it is an internal issue that will prevent us from coming together to deal with the other problems which face us."

Economic inequality does not threaten US survival. Trillion+ dollar oil wars, trillion+ dollar oil trade deficits, trillion+ dollar national deficits/debt, trillion+ dollar health care costs do threaten US survival.

Lack of economic equality did not prevent US from dealing with previous survival issues of Great Depression and WWII.

Money in politics is a bigger threat than income inequality.

Dealing with the problems comes first and those are the reasons for the economic inequality.  Universal health care alone does a lot to restore economic equality.

However, first and foremost, fix the problems which threaten the nation.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-24 10:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Econ. inequality...survival issue? Hell, yes!

Why do you think those threatening conditions exist, my friend?  Trillion+ dollar oil wars are fought so that those who are powerful and comfortable now will continue to maintain their comfort and power, at the expense of everyone else.  Same with the Great Depression, and (in part) WWII -- Hitler was a charismatic evil genius, to be sure, but he and his Reich had key financial backing from German and American monied interests bankrolling his rise to power.

You're right when you talk about the threat of "Money in politics" but wrong when you say it "is a bigger threat than income inequality."  The money is in politics because those with it want to perpetuate the inequalities that favor them.

Level the battlefield and you'll find the fight much easier to win.

by Califlander 2006-12-25 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Econ. inequality...survival issue? Hell, yes!

That is all.  

If we agree on nothing else, we need to support these folks.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-26 04:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Economic inequality...survival issue? No.

The underlying significance of economic inequality is the concentration of economic and political power that engenders it.

I do not know how much of a grasp Edwards has of what it is going to take to dispel this concentration democratically. It is the next stage of democracy and capitalism, figuring out how to reinvent representative government so that it can do what must be done to retain the primacy and promise of the free enterprise system while curbing its excesses.

Grassroots progressives are figuring it out, if you judge by the choices of voters who voted into office people like Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown and Jim Webb. David Sirota better than anyone else on the scene, in my view, has grasped the internal combustion that is driving what I believe is an incipient progressive revolution that is bringing such folks into government. If you read their speeches and policy pronouncements, you can see the core components of the progressive agenda coming into focus.

Edwards is far less grounded than they are in the dynamics of this internal combustion, at least from my reading of his stances. But his instincts and formative experiences are all driving him in the right direction, if he just keeps at it.

by Nancy Bordier 2006-12-25 12:22PM | 0 recs
Re: No

I'd agree with much of that comment. The democratic candidates in 2000 and 2004 got bullied. And given the calibre of the men involved, that was frankly ridiculous.

by kundalini 2006-12-25 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

By the Way,

Merry Christmas! post/deeannaroberts/C3Rn

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

No Obama at the top of the ticket. He cannot win and in this all my black progressive friends agree.

Both of them? Really?



by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run


...all of them.

And I don't start the conversation.

by Pericles 2006-12-24 04:27PM | 0 recs
Should he drop out is the real question.

'Cause he's already running like a whippet with a lit sparkler up his ass.

by stevehigh 2006-12-24 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Polls, LOT'S of them.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Here's another one. sc


It's not very good news for those of you in denial, who keep pushing candidates who have dropped out or are only polling at 1%.

But for the rest of us in Reality Land, these are very helpful.


by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Polls at this point are ridiculous.  Anything can happen between now and the primaries -- candidates can and do come out of nowhere.  And sometimes even if they don't win, they do change the nature of the debate, which can be very helpful overall.  

by Maven 2006-12-25 08:12AM | 0 recs
Edwards did not lose Cheney debate

Can we retire this revisionist-history nonsense?  I just checked back .... almost every poll had Edwards winning that debate; well-known Dem "lovers" like Candy Crowley and Ceci Connolly agreed as did many other MSM scum.  As long as were on the debate subject, Matt, I would assume given your constant "reminders" of Edwards' "loss" to Cheney that Al Gore is disqualified for 2008 as well.  Recall the second debate with Bush ... as Gore uttered "I agree with the Governor" about 200 times, when he was awake enough to actually speak.  The problem with Edwards-Cheney was that for some reason, too many people figured Edwards would wipe the floor with the old man, despite Cheney's long experience as an accomplished liar.  

by tangerine 2006-12-24 03:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards did not lose Cheney debate

I didn't write that he lost.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 03:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards did not lose Cheney debate

Good point. Debates are really all about public perception in these days, and historical revisionism is dangerous to Democrats on this front. I think polls had Gore ahead in opinion of who won the debates (or maybe an individual one, can't completely recall) before the media spin took over and he suddenly lost.

by Mullibok 2006-12-24 04:01PM | 0 recs

Gore won 2 out of three debates in these polls, which were all taken 2-3 days after the debates, i.e. part of the post-debate spin had ensued:

Debate 1: Bush (21.7%), Gore (29.3%)
Debate 2: Bush (39.4%), Gore (21.5%)
Debate 3: Bush (24.5%), Gore (28.2%)

The net impact of the debates was about even in the exit polls:

"Which of these things, if any, had a major influence on your vote for president today?..."   Up to three responses accepted.

"The broadcast debates"      All (11%), Gore(11%),Bush(10%)

a slight edge to Gore.

What do I think? Gore easily won all the debates on substance. On style, he made mistakes. By the third debate, he found his stride on both style and substance. Because of the substance of his debate remarks and statements, I personally went from being a  soft supporter of Gore to a strong supporter.


For the 2004 VP debates, there were two polls taken (each with caveats of its own) as you can read here: Polls declare different victors in VP debate.

According to an ABC poll, 43 percent of registered voters said Cheney won, 35 percent gave the win to Edwards, and 19 percent called it a tie. Thirty-eight percent of the viewers were Republicans, 31 percent Democrats, the rest independents. The phone survey was conducted among a random sample of 509 registered voters who watched the debate.

CBS News' poll specifically focused on uncommitted voters and found 41 percent deemed Edwards the winner, 28 percent chose Cheney, and 31 percent said it was a tie. CBS based its poll on a "nationally representative sample of 178 debate watchers ... who are either undecided about who to vote for or who have a preference but say they could still change their minds."

The CBS poll that Edwards won had too small a sample size (198) which gives a large margin of error. Te ABC poll that Cheney won oversampled Republicans. Overall, I give a slight edge to Edwards.

My personal opinion? Edwards should have hit Cheney hard on the war, the failing economy, balooning national debt, falling dollar, you name it. He didn't. On the war, the probable reason being that Edwards himself had supported and promoted the invasion aggressively. That's why, in 2008, we'll be better off going for a ticket (both top and bottom) that opposed the war from the beginning. Russ Feingold said he'd prefer someone that opposed the war in the first place as well, and named Obama and Gore as two that he'd like to see run.

For a VP nominee, a lot rides on the debate because other than the convention (which tends to be mostly pomp and glory) that's the time that most people get to see and judge them. Edwards played it safe perhaps to improve his chances for 2008, in my opinion.

by NuevoLiberal 2006-12-24 10:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Well

"Edwards was equally aggressive, accusing President Bush and Cheney of misleading the country about Iraq, first by suggesting that Iraq was linked to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and then by trying to suggest that conditions there are better than they are. He repeatedly accused Cheney of distorting the facts to mislead the public." [Kansas City Star, 10/5/04]

"Probably for John Edwards the best moment was when he turned to Cheney and said, you know Mr. Cheney, I don't--Mr. Vice President, I don't think Americans can take another four years of this administration. Sort of a rendition of Ronald Reagan's famous line of are you better off. That clearly was one that he had been waiting to deliver. Obviously an effective line." [CNN, 10/5/04, 10:51]

"Mr. Edwards is normally known for his wide grin and boyish appearance, but he was serious and tough last night. If his main task was to show that he could stand up to the older and more experienced vice president, he did everything he needed to do, especially during the discussion of foreign policy." [Editorial, New York Times, 5/6/04]

by bedobe 2006-12-25 08:47AM | 0 recs
Good excerpts

Hence recommended your comment. But, I don't think it was tough enough. As I said, I think that the polls gave a slight edge to Edwards, and I personally thought he eked out a slight edge as well when I watched it, but I felt that he should have hit a lot harder (as, for example, Howard Dean would have if he were debating Bush or Cheney).

by NuevoLiberal 2006-12-25 10:53AM | 0 recs
Edwards failure to win Cheney debate...

points to problems.

"Te ABC poll that Cheney won oversampled Republicans." commissioned a real poll that sampled those who actually watched the debate which was slightly more Republicans.

CBS was not a scientific random poll, it was a very small pre-selected focus group.

No matter how you slice it, the results are problematic which is a problem for Edwards.  If a skilled courtroom lawyer cannot clearly win a debate with someone as issue challenged as Cheyney, Edwards' chances of winning a debate with McCain are slim to none.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-27 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I support John Edwards. Say what you will, but since leaving the Senate, he's actually put his money and his actions where his mouth is. Is it good politics? YES! But if we're going to win in 2008, don't we want a good politician?

Besides, in listening to him in various venues, he speaks the same message and avoids pandering to crowds by telling them only what they want to hear. I have seen growth in Edwards in the past two years; a sense that he is finally comfortable in his own skin and will tell us what we NEED to hear, not only what we WANT to hear! That's what I'm hungry for - whether I agree with absolutely everything he says/does or not - just TELL ME THE TRUTH AS TO WHAT YOU BELIEVE AND WHAT YOU'LL DO!

I firmly believe that the Dems best hope for '08 is Edwards/Clark. I know, it's two more white guys, but they are two competent, intelligent, articulate white guys who can WIN! That's not a bad start, eh?

by randron 2006-12-24 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Who is pushing for Clark? Seriously. I'm not trying to be mean, but his name pops up by one person once in a million posts like he's a serious contender. Can all the Clark supporters tell me where you are from so I can understand why you think he has a shot in hell to get the Democratic nod?

Please. Not trying to be a bitch. I just don't know how else to communicate.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 04:15PM | 0 recs

Those pushing the General are fighting the wrong election. He is seen as unassailable on national security. The problem with this theory is that national security credentials (no matter how stellar) will not keep you from being attacked by the GOP.

I want to like Clark and in a way I do. He just doesn't set me on fire to vote for him. He would probably make a great cabinet member.

Disclosure: I lean strongly towards Edwards- if Al Gore were to get in...

BTW it looks like Chris Dodd just came out for withdrawal.

by molly bloom 2006-12-24 04:27PM | 0 recs
HIs handling of Kosovo did for me.

I did like Clark until I really started reading everything I could find on him.

by dk2 2006-12-24 04:35PM | 0 recs
Re: HIs handling of Kosovo did for me.

DK2 Is that you?


by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 04:59PM | 0 recs
Re: HIs handling of Kosovo did for me.

Hey FOS, yea it is me, hows it going, happy holidays to you.

by dk2 2006-12-24 05:13PM | 0 recs
Re: HIs handling of Kosovo did for me.

Holidays are going good. I'm going to send you an e-mail later okay?


by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Clark

I think he should be Secretary of Defense or , yeah. I think that's the hightest. Or, National Security Advisor to Barack Obama. That would be great.


by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 05:01PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Your point about which Edwards will show up to run for president is well-taken. The country is at a much different place politically now (and will be in 2007 and 2008) then it was in 2003 and 2004. I'm not sold on Edwards for a couple of reasons: first, the experience issue (which may be somewhat relevant this election, given that the current occupant at the White House had very little experience - and look where it got us); and second, as many have pointed out above, whether Edwards has the fire in his belly to take the fight to the opposition. I do think Edwards has clearly shifted to the left since 2004. But will he be able to convey that same message throughout the primary season, and if he's successful, the general election? I would hope so, but we'll see.

by PsiFighter37 2006-12-24 04:23PM | 0 recs
Re: It wasn't inexperience alone that did it .....

It was the "Gawd told me to go to war" and the unwillingness to listen to "Sound Council" that caused all of these problems.It was Bush stubborness that caused him to make all the mistakes he made.Also, a lust for War and revenge on Sadaam.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: It wasn't inexperience alone that did it .....

Well, Bush's inexperience was the source of all of this crap. Without the necessary background, he was forced to rely on what little knowledge he had, along with his neoconservative advisors, and that's how you get a massive fuck-up of a presidency.

I know that Edwards wouldn't be anywhere near as halfway incompetent, but the general public will probably have some concerns about it.

by PsiFighter37 2006-12-24 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: It wasn't inexperience alone that did it .....


I think we are harder on our choice than the Republicans. I know some people think it's wishful thinking but there are a lot of Republicans that are already planning on voting Democrat this time around and they seem to like our candidates more than we do. The so called  "Liberal" ones too.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: It wasn't inexperience alone that did it .....

Bush was never going to have the necessary background, because he never gave a sh*t.  This is a man seriously adverse to study, to learning, and to new ideas.  So no matter what his "experience" was, it was never going to be enough.  On the other hand, a different man with the same "experience" on paper -- the several businesses he "ran," the governorship, the education at good schools -- could have had enough real world experience to be a good president.  I'm just saying . . . if the man had ever cared a bit about any endeavor he's undertaken, he might not have been such a disaster.

by Maven 2006-12-25 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Obviously the 'experience' factor puts Obama in the driver's seat then...

And of course The Hill has lots of experience...

And Joey the Liarmann...another 'experienced' dude.

'Experience'...what's that when it's at home?

Matt's opening of this topic was to the point.

Is Edwards Progressive?

Is he a fighter?

These are the first questions Edwards must answer, and strongly, to have the netroots support inj 2008.

The Hill ain't gettin' it.

Obama is a gift to the ReThugs...I will never support this guy. He's an empty suit to boot.

And the netroots will play a roll in 2008.

I believe it will be a big one. that we've driven the ReThugs into the sea...let's hold 'em under until they drown.

by Pericles 2006-12-24 04:37PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

So you support Obama?  Ok then.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 05:36PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

No, I don't. The only candidate, potential or otherwise, that I'm completely sold on at this juncture is Al Gore.

by PsiFighter37 2006-12-24 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

he's not running.

by bruh21 2006-12-24 09:13PM | 0 recs
... just yet.

by NuevoLiberal 2006-12-24 10:06PM | 0 recs
Re: ... just yet.

Hey Neuvo... if Gore doesn't run... you'll be ok right?  I don't want to see news stories of a blogger who commits hari kari  because Gore doesn't run ;-)

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-26 05:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I think Edwards should run for Senate in '08 against Liddy Dole.

by pennquaker08 2006-12-24 05:00PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Yes, Edwards should run. I am impressed whenever he speaks. Clark should run too because he has a very progressive platform.

by nonwhiteperson 2006-12-24 05:04PM | 0 recs
Schwartzenegger had no experience........

and yet this big overgrown duffis who can't speak English, a mutterring rich fool with "STAR POWER" is the Governor of the FIFTH largest ECONOMY in the WORLD.

Yeah, that's right. California is the 5th largest ecomomy in the WORLD being governed by a retard from Austria. (Where HITLER) was born.

I just made several points in that post if you're smart, you'll get it.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Schwartzenegger had no experience........

Please try to be less condescending.  I know you mean well, but it does hurt the tone of the community.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Schwartzenegger had no experience........

Okay, Just for you.


by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Schwartzenegger had no experience........


I think not.

And I live there; always have.

Ahnuld is another puppet for the ReichWing who increasingly realise that they are bound to lose.


Because they are unable to actually do anything within the structure of our society.




and claim it's OK 'cause God told them to do it.

He won because the Democrat Party in CA are are really the 'Money Party' in disguise and did not in fact want Angelides to win as he would have...


The Horror!

Raised taxes on the Rich. Not the average guy; just rich folks.

And we all now how evil and un-American that is don't we?

But fear ye not!

Us folks that brought you Jerry McNerney and Barbara Lee and Deborah Bowen are gonna lend a hand.

And start throwing the members of 'The Money Party' under the bus.

Starting with Ellen 'Kabuki' Tauscher. And movin' on til only real progressive are elected in CA.

How does Governor Jerry Brown sound to ya?

by Pericles 2006-12-24 05:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Schwartzenegger had no experience........

I was talking about the first time he ran. I am from California. I was there. We had just kicked out our Democratic governor because he did'nt do the job and the real reason why we voted for Arnold was because (Okay, how can I keep this clean? ) Okay, the people who were running up against him were, a failed actor who was very small in stature, a female adult entertainer and some people literally off the street. I hope that was nice enough. Schwarzenegger semed like the best option. Plus, once everyone realized he was married into the Kennedy Family,we figured, if they can trust him, so can we.

That is the real reason why he won.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Schwartzenegger had no experience........

We kicked out Gray Davis because a bunch of ReichWing money convinced the public he wasn't doing the job when the Bush administration allowed Enron to loot the state with their energy market manipulations.

Admittedly he didn't send in the National Guard to take over the power plants as he should have but no Republican would have either.

The voting public out here is composed of a lot of low information voters.

The fact that Ahnuld won has less to do with him that the abysmal ignorance of the citizenry here.

by Pericles 2006-12-24 08:04PM | 0 recs
A trial lawyer with no killer instinct?

Hard to believe.

Let's just say Edwards hasn't found a way to harness that instinct for politics.

NOTE Nice point on Hillary in the Davos bubble. Captures my problems with Hillary perfectly.

Although, along the lines of "Bennifer" and "Brangelina," perhaps I should "Clintama" ...

by lambert 2006-12-24 05:19PM | 0 recs
Re: A trial lawyer with no killer instinct?


by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: A trial lawyer with no killer instinct?

exactly my point, made below.

by joyful alternative 2006-12-25 06:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run



I just ate. Shoe some mercy will ya?

I prefer an Obamedwards.


by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 05:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

How about 'Barrackary' or 'Hussham'?


Just a minute I gotta hit the w/c or the turkey will be all over the carpet.

by Pericles 2006-12-24 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run


I'm right behind you.


by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I read his book, "Four Trials," and came away thinking, "This is a wonderful man, a real fighter." So why don't we see the fight now? Or, when will we see the fight in him, like his clients saw?

I've picked my man for president and it isn't John Edwards. The times cry out for a hard-headed leader who has governing experience, and no fear when it comes to liars and cheats.

by mrobinsong 2006-12-24 06:01PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I think he was being overly causious about not coming off as that Tom Cruise "I want the truth!" type of lawyer. He did'nt realize that was want America wanted from him. Instead, he softened it up and came accross as a sweet Southern Baptist Preacher who just wants to be all nice. This time, I bet we will see he real John Edwards. No more Mr. Nice Guy! He will be sharp, angry and a lot more serious. I've seen some of his Post-2004 Elections speeches and if that's just a taste, this is gonna be one interesting Primary.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I hope so. We need that kind of tough on the left. I was disappointed in his debate performance where I was like- this is a guy who won multi milion dollar law suits?

by bruh21 2006-12-24 09:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I have to leave now.



by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-24 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Merry Christmas

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-24 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run
Edwards should run if just for himself. To get it out of his system.
I don't think he would be a good president and don't see him really going for the distance.
His poverty thing is nice but, it misses the larger picture.  We have a country where the middle class is fast disappearing and they must be addressed as well.  We have economic problems on multiple levels.  The poverty is nice for a slogan but, it is one of many layers.
I feel he is doesn't have the depth.  He is somewhat a fluff peice.  A nice person but, not thedepth and I don't think he can give this country what is needed.
Everyone says Obama doesn't have the experience or resume but, I do point out it is twice what Edwards is.  His time in the state puts his political time at twice of Edwards
And then all the years as a community laywer and activist.
by vwcat 2006-12-24 06:26PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I'm not sold on Sen Obama because of what I perceive as a proclivity to say what people want to hear... pander if you will.  Also, I don't appreciate that too often, for my taste, he relies on liberal strawmen to contrast his approach against.  Thus far, I'm not enthusiastic about Sen Obama and see him, given the hoopla surrounding him, as embodying the very characteristics that you used against Sen Edwards.

by bedobe 2006-12-24 07:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

John Edwards has established progressive bona fides in a number of ways the most important of which is his singular focus on poverty and the Two Americas. This discussion also includes the erosion of the middle class and the Class War that the GOP and big business have been waging on this country for decades.  I believe he is the right progressive at the right time. He will of course need to spend political capital fighting entrenched interests but this will occur as the campaign progresses. In a recent interview on Hardball he said that he had shifted his focus as a candidate from wanting to just look good to really articulating his intentions as president. Obama is still in the beauty contest mode. He is also capable of articulating a populist message but I think is even less inclined than Edwards to call out the economic and political thugs who sponsor and benefit from our rising inequality.

I willl be looking eagerly for an Edwards who takes the gloves off and take on the "class warriors". It's not about being liked by everyone-Clinton did way too much of that. I believe John knows that he will have to piss a lot of people off but in doing so will strike the right cord with a realigned Democratic base.

This isn't a damn beauty contest-this is about American ideals- I would love to see Edwards walk that talk.

Look for him to scout out the territory that Dean took in '04 then extend to the "center".

by Kevster 2006-12-25 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

The question I have a hard time answering with Edwards is what does he actually want to DO to fight poverty?  I've heard some general goals and a few specific ideas, but what is the overarching strategy of an Edwards administration and what makes it different than any other Democratic candidate?

I agree that the rhetorical choice to prioritize poverty is important, but I think to a very large extent the proof is in the pudding.  

I will say that I might be coming at this from a slightly different perspective because while I strongly agree that fighting poverty should be essential, I'm also skeptical of a number of the strategies for doing so.  Basically, I often fear that progressive politicians will cross the line between economic populism and kneejerk protectionism.

Is that what Edwards is going to do?  Impose antidumping duties, join the China-bashers?  I'm not trying to start a fight - I'm genuinely curious and I don't know enough about Edwards.  What does he think about agricultural subsidies?  Doha?  Intellectual property issues (especially pharmaceuticals)?

Someone who knows more than me?

by Baldrick 2006-12-24 06:59PM | 0 recs
edwards should run

because the very process of running has a habit of stoking fires in the belly, and getting candidates out into the great unwashed masses, who are simmering for real change and a good fight.

like with obama, like with gore, i am waiting to see if edwards has enough fight in him to really run hard as an unabashed democrat, and openly engage the failed ideas of the right. i think all three of them are capable of doing so, but i'll back the one who actually does it. until then, i'll be watching.

by wu ming 2006-12-24 07:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

of course he should run. so should obama, and whoever else wants to run. it's a part of the democratic process, and the only question is do they want to run, not whether we should say no to them running before they have even tried.

by bruh21 2006-12-24 09:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Thanks a lot for this long and thoughtful post, Matt.  I have an extended response here at Ezra Klein's blog explaining why Edwards' rhetoric is the way it is.  

by Neil the Ethical Werewolf 2006-12-24 11:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Goog Morning!

Merry Christmas. We still on Edwards ey?


He's going to let us on on the 28th I think. That's this Thursday in New Orleans so, I'm a little excited.

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-25 04:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

1. Reform media use of public airwave. Roll back the laws permitting media consolidation.

2. Focus scientific efforts on energy independence

3. Find some way for insurance companies to shrink their involvement in health care, and...

4. Get congress to formally separate church and state [again!].

4A. Remove tax exempt status for churches involved with politics (that would be most of them).

4B. Get a right to privacy into the consitution.

5. Tax the bejeezus out of companies outsourcing their work, so it is no longer so profitable.

6. Consider the 25% flat tax to people and to corporate profit. Except: startups less than 5 people pay no taxes (including social security and un-employment taxes). People below the poverty line pay no taxes.

7. Get rid of DHS. Force other agencies to use a shared database.

8. Irrigate Afganistan.

9. Sit down with Iran and Saudi Arabia.

by pwax 2006-12-25 05:00AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Edwards earned many millions as a trial lawyer. Ergo, he must have a really vicious killer instinct.

by joyful alternative 2006-12-25 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run


To: Governor Howard Dean
From: [Joe Trippi and Pat Caddell]
Re: Definitional Moment
Date: June 11, 2003

The campaign has gotten to a place no one thought it could get to.

A confluence of your passion, events of the country, the mood of the voters, and the conjunction of history have produced yet another moment that is with precedence in American history -- the transformation of American politics.

It began with Andrew Jackson who transformed America into at Democratic Republic, then to Lincoln who saved it, and to the populist/progressive movement of Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson and then to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.

This is another one of those moments -- the place where the future happens.

You have felt this -- you know that something bigger is happening here beyond conventional politics.  It is what happens every time you tell people that the future of the country rests in their hands and not in yours.  The room goes silent and you feel the hunger in them and the frustration within yourself to explain something that you have yet to find the words to express.

It is the need to throw our all that is transactional and embrace the hunger to transform our country.

Thr rest of this memorandum can be found here:

The hunger and need for transformational leadership is real -- the question is will Obama, Edwards, Gore, Vilsack, or even Hillary recognize the void and step boldly into it?  Will anyone?

For the sake of the country -- I hope so.  

I've learned that the mistake is to think you can teach a candidate transformation.   It comes from within, from seeing wrong and trying to right it (as Bobby Kennedy said) -- its an evolution from transactioanl to transformational that most politicians don't have the vision to even attempt.

It takes something really rare in today's governing class - an abiding faith in the American people.   Believing in us instead of fearing us.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-25 05:56AM | 0 recs
Is it really "transformational"?

Did the Dean campaign really transform US politics?  I think it's hard to make that argument.

Dean tapped into internet grass roots fundraising but is that any more transformational than Richard Vigeurie and mass mailing for the Republican right wing in the 1960's?

"The hunger and need for transformational leadership is real.."

I think that's correct but it means that we are still dependent on the untransformed political system to produce "transformed" leaders we can vote for.  That kind of tells us not much transformation has taken place...some but not a whole lot.

Personally I'm looking for a smart, straight talking leader who focuses on the main problems affecting US and proposes real solutions.

I see two.  McCain (campaign finance reform, energy/oil, deficit/debt) and Obama (energy/oil, Iraq, deficit/debt, environment, health care).

If we get those two facing off in 2008, we can say that the political system put up the two best candidates from each party and each was focused on the real issues of the nation.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-25 06:42AM | 0 recs
That crazy right-wing fuck Richard Viguerie

He was transformational, pointing the way for small contributors to really transform Campaigns, unlike the stupid McCain- Feingold bill that rewards big campaigns that can afford hotshot CPAs and fucks up genuine grass-roots efforts where the treasurer can't fucking figure the fucking thing out.

Also, IMHO, McCain is a turd whose only excuse is that he finished fifth from the bottom in his Academy class and is too stupid to poor piss out of boot with the instructions written on the heel.

Wes Clark: First in his class at West Point. If you're looking for a military man, how about one who is a). a Democrat, and b). can read without moving his lips?

by stevehigh 2006-12-25 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: That crazy right-wing fuck Richard Viguerie

I'm sure Republicans have an equally intelligent comment on Dean.

Point was that the "transformation" that Dean highlighted was the ability of new technology, internet forums and online donations, to amass a lot of support and funding.

That was the same "transformation" that Richard Viguerie highlighted with his use the direct mail database technology in the 1960's.

I don't see either one really "transforming" US politics.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-25 09:14AM | 0 recs
I gotcher intelligence n/t

by stevehigh 2006-12-25 09:42AM | 0 recs
Re: That crazy right-wing fuck Richard Viguerie

The "transformative" affect of mass mailing and of the tools of the online age are not on the same scale, say, of a mass movement -- the kind that propelled the Civil Rights era, for example.  But as communication tools to reach "new," or more targeted audiences, and -- in the case of online tools -- to allow the audience to communicate back with the professional pols, I think that Viguerie and the Dean campaign did, indeed, transform grassroots politics.

by bedobe 2006-12-25 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

The point in posting the memo was to point out that the attempt was made -- but that the candidacy and campaign had failed at transforming the country and that the hunger still was unsated.

I doubt very much that McCain will fill the void -- he becomes more transactional every day.

Gore, Obama and Edwards may wage transformational campaigns -- but like I said I learned that you can't teach it - a candidate has to evolve and get there on their own.

Gore BTW has completed the evolution -- the only issue is will he run?  And if he does run will he revert to the careful, calculating, over consulted transactional Gore?  Or will he lead a transformational campaign that challenges the American people.

Edwards in my view is trying to get there.   Obama can get there -- but will he?   Time will tell.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-25 07:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

"...the hunger still was unsated."

The "tranformational hunger" that lead me to support Dean was a desire to have a candidate who addressed the big issues.

As far as Dean transforming politics, as someone who supported Dean early and often via internet donations (a "transformer"?), I was just looking for someone who would address the issues starting with Iraq.  When I met Dean, I asked him about his view on energy/oil policy since that is key to Iraq, to terrorism, to trade and budget deficits, to environment.  He didn't seem to view it as a keystone issue. He wasn't very "transformational" in his response.

The transformation US politics needs is to provide real solutions to the real issues that are killing the US (oil, oil wars, healthcare, deficits/debt) vs. non-issues like abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration.

If that is labled "transactional" or "tranformational", I don't care.  I'm looking for leadership that clearly sees the problems and has the ability to lead the nation to solve those problems.

Edwards website doesn't highlight any of the big issues. His themes are "poverty" and "minimum wage".  Pretty slim pickings.

I think McCain and Obama are the only real "transformational" candidates. By that I mean they speak to the big issues directly and articulate to the public why they are the core issues and the urgency required in addressing them.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-25 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

Edwards' current website is not focused on a Democratic primary or a general election.  In stead, his website is dedicated to his "off season" issue, and as a one stop center for those interested on working on poverty in America.  Once Edwards declares I'm sure that another website will be developed and rolled out to address all the issues that primary and general election voters care about.  That said, if you're interested in finding out about what Edwards has said on the issue that you care about, then just do a search on his current website.  See here:

Iraq: ode=perform_search&keywords=iraq& ;x=22&y=4

Health Care: ode=perform_search&keywords=health+c are&x=13&y=7

Middle East: ode=perform_search&keywords=middle+e ast&x=21&y=7

by bedobe 2006-12-25 09:16AM | 0 recs
Edwards website

"Edwards' current website is not focused on a Democratic primary or a general election."

That's all Edward's and his website are focused on...running for president. Nothing wrong with that other than denying it.

Edwards pitch is a vague anti-poverty message that simply misses the real issues facing America.

Based on his website's "message" there is no reason to vote for Edwards when one is looking for someone who will deal with energy/oil, deficit/debt, national health care, Middle East.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-25 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards website

There's nothing to deny.  I'm just being objective and factual, in pointing out that the current Edwards' website is not an official campaign website, hence it has not been developed to highlight the particular issues that primary and general election voters may care about.  Why don't you hold your criticism till after Edwards announces, and till he rolls out his official campaign website -- then you may have some factual ground to stand on.

by bedobe 2006-12-25 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards website

"I'm just being objective and factual, in pointing out that the current Edwards' website is not an official campaign website."

Puleeze...Edwards is running for president...has been since 2004 and his website is part of his campaign.

It fails to address a single major issue facing the US.

What's with that?

What's the point in running president if you can't identify the challenges facing the nation, if you don't have a plan and vision for solving those problems?

by BrionLutz 2006-12-25 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards website

Again, the fact -- in spite of your protestations -- is that his current website is not a campaign website, period.  Its primary focus is a single issue, poverty in America -- whether you like it or not.  As for your point about running for president, clearly all men and women running for president think that they, in fact, have the answers facing our nation -- that's why they choose to run.  Again, if you want to be objective and more factual in your criticism, wait till the Edwards campaign rolls out its official campaign website, then you can go to town.

by bedobe 2006-12-25 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards website

Poverty is not only a "real issue that faces America" - it is one that faces our whole world. It is as important as any of the "real" issues you mention (and in some ways indirectly and in some ways very directly related to them.)  

Moreover, the quest to eradicate poverty is quite simply a bedrock principle of the Democratic Party.  

It is as relevant today as it was when FDR said this in his 1944 State of the Union:

[E]ssential to peace is a decent standard of living for all individual men and women and children in all nations. Freedom from fear is eternally linked with freedom from want...

We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people, whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. ...

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ...

People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

Or when John Kennedy said this in his inauguration speech:

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required - not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right.

by Rob in Vermont 2006-12-25 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

Dean was transformational beyond any doubt because he had the courage to stand up in a crowded hall in California in early 2003 and blow everyone's mind by loudly voicing his opposition to the invasion of Iraq when the whole country was supporting it.

He took a huge risk personally and politically to get out on a limb and swim upstream on THE MAJOR ISSUE OF THE DAY.

What could be more transformational?

He showed that a lone voice could take aim against all the powers that be AND then get 500,000 people to rally behind an insurgent presidential primary campaign AND then get them to break records contributing $53,000,000 through small repetitive online donations in a matter of months.

He transformed American politics forever in the best way possible by showing that a courageous unknown candidate taking a stand on a momentous issue of deep concern to the American people can run an effective and potentially winning presidential primary campaign for office as an insurgent in one of the major political parties.

Yes, he had the rising netroots behind him, but this just goes to show that anyone with Dean's passion, courage and political resonance in the 21st century has the potential to win an insurgent bid for office even in our deeply corrupted electoral system awash in money.

What more do we want?

by Nancy Bordier 2006-12-25 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

That speech was among the toughest moments in the caampaign -- and the fight for and against giving it left deep scars among the staff involved.

It was a tetonic fight -- a miracle that transformation won out -- even temporarily.

Howard Dean gave that speech twice -- once at the DNC winter meeting and once at the California Party Convention then he never gave it again.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-25 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

I can imagine the pushing and pulling that was going on inside the campaign. The main thing is that Dean gave the speech and it transformed him into a transformational leader.

What happened next is history. His campaign began an Internet-mediated dialectic between him and his supporters that has transformed the American electoral process forever. It has opened it up to populist insurgents like himself who now know they can rely on their online supporters rather than their political parties for their campaign war chests and even their GOTV operations.

Per your link, Joe, the quote from James MacGregor Burns is insightful as to the dynamic: "A transformational leader stands on the shoulders of his followers, expressing coherently those ideas which lie inchoate in the hearts of the followers - and in the process makes his followers into new leaders".

Dean's campaign was powered by an unprecedented online dialectic between him and his supporters which was mostly about the war but also about the power of big money interests in Washington. (I'll never forget the way he talked truth to power when he alluded to "Kenny Boy" and the complicity of energy interests with White House energy policy.)

He gave us the power to give him the power to get into the big leagues in the primaries. Sometimes he led and we followed. Other times we led and he followed. The main thing is that we funded his campaign from our computers, moving the line up the hockey stick with our online donations to fund his exploits so that he and we could thumb our noses at our adversaries inside and outside the Democratic Party.

Dean may have lost the battle in Iowa but he won the war of transforming electoral politics. That he went on to take over the DNC and implement his 50 state strategy that helped turn the tide in the 2006 elections was the clarion call to the end of business as usual inside the Democratic Party.

Things will never be the same.

by Nancy Bordier 2006-12-25 06:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

Nancy, it is an interesting circumstance that I read James MacGregor Burns book over the summer of 2002 along with Richard Goodwin's book "Promises to Keep".  "A transformational leader stands on the shoulders of his followers...."   I had not yet been contacted by Howard Dean -- In fact I am not even sure he had made the decission to run when I read those two books.     At the time I did not realize it but most of the founding ideas of the Dean campaign contained in the memo stem from the insights gleaned from Burns' and Goodwin's writings.

I am proud of the transformational nature of the campaign -- it was one of the only reasons I decided to work "in just one more Presidential campaign".

What I am trying to say though is that a transformational campaign is almost diabolically tough to produce -- even by people who set out knowingly to produce one.   Transactional politics is so baked into the cake with the press, the pundents, the people, the staff, and even the candidate -- and yes including me and Howard -- its like trying to escape earth's gravity -- and in politics its very hard to reach escape velocity.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-26 03:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

"The main thing is that we funded his campaign from our computers"

So far so good.

"...moving the line up the hockey stick with our online donations to fund his exploits"

Not sure about "exploits", fer shure we were funding a candidate who opposed Iraq war.

" that he and we could thumb our noses at our adversaries inside and outside the Democratic Party." the rails there.  Maybe that is what you were doing.  That's not what this online Dean contributor was doing.

That's not what several other online contributors in our area were doing, per their comments at Meetup's (remember that "ancient" transformational technology) or Dean appearances.

Basic grass roots political response...not sure why some folks need to give such a time honored political phenomenon new names such as "transformational" or "transactional".  

It reminds me of Al Gore's attempt via "National Partnerships for Reinventing Government" to substitute understandable English for the incomprehensible jargon in government documents.

And here we are trying to cook up more jargon and self-defined terms.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-27 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

Howard Dean gave that speech twice -- once at the DNC winter meeting and once at the California Party Convention then he never gave it again.

He didn't need to give it again, once everyone in America had heard it.  He could go on to other issues and show that he wasn't a one-note candidate.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-26 04:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

The idea of transformational politics sounds interesting, but what will it take to get our politicians to actually engage in it?

by MadProfessah 2006-12-25 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

The transformation of politics and public affairs was not going to happen in one campaign.  I think the transformational part of the Dean campaign was the germination of the people-powered-ness of the campaign that can truly transform politics, be at the base of building a progressive movement, and bring more and more people into our fold by making politics accessible to and exciting for them.  

It wasn't just small-dollar donors or using that newfangled interweb to communicate - those and other things were major parts of it - it was starting a campaign essentially around that and around a message of taking positions that were to appeal to people not because they were poll-tested but because they appealed to the best instincts of people and their sense of respect for someone who stands on his or her convictions.  

Dean's candidacy never could be transformational, because it is part of a larger movement-building action and one campaign certainly wasn't enough time.  To this day, going from that as a convenient jumping-off point, the 3 to 4 years hasn't been enough to see a transformational nature of political engagement, but we are within a coupld of cycles from the tipping point - maybe just the one presidential campaign will be enough - if the 'right' things transpire, like getting a candidate toward the front who is at least running partly to build a progressive movement with the democratic nature of it fully at the front of their success in both the avenue of building a movement and winning the presidency.  

by Peter from WI 2006-12-25 08:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

McCain?  The man who has sold out his principles to cosy up to Bush?  That torture bill was absolutely a sell-out.  I lost a lot of respect for him: I think he blows whichever way the wind blows.  I think McCain may be able to win a Republican primary -- depending on who his opponents are -- but I doubt he can win a general right now: he's lost the respect of too many independents and Democrats.

And yes, Dean's race was "transformational."  I know too many people who became active in politics for the first time because of Dean, and who have stayed active, for it not to have been "transformational." Some of those are just your average campaign volunteers -- like more of those aren't needed desparately -- and some of those are running for office.  Why? "Because Dean told me to."  And those offices may start out at the Congressional level, or they may be school board or library board or city council or dogcatcher -- but the more progressives in the "farm" system the better off we are down the road.  So yes, I think transformational is not to strong a word for the Dean campaign, even if it didn't win and even if the results are not seen nationally for years.  

by Maven 2006-12-25 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it really "transformational"?

McCain a "straight talker"!?  Are you kidding!  You must be talking about the McCain that the media puffed up circa 2000, and which no longer exists -- if it ever did.  That the danger of buying into media hype about any one candidate, including Democratic candidates.

by bedobe 2006-12-25 08:51AM | 0 recs

Joe, in every posting like this, you've included Vilsack -- but not Richardson, Clark or Dodd -- among those with transformational potential.  Why is that?  What is it that we should see in him?

by Adam B 2006-12-25 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Vilsack

I saw him on TV recently -- I had a very low opinion of him before that -- but I heard him talking about his adoption and his parents and their lives and how he got in to politics and suddenly I got why the guy is a Democrat.  So . . . I'm willing to buy why he has potential.

by Maven 2006-12-25 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Vilsack

Adam -- I got an opportunity to watch Vilsack closely over last year's Renaissance Weekend.  He really wowed me. He wasn't talking the usual platitudes -- he clearly understood that you don't run for president unless you have something real and authentic to say -- and he struck me as the only other candidate (besides Edwards) who is trying to get to a transformational candidacy.    Gore as I have said has really made the evolution already -- but I am not sure he is running.  Obama clearly has the ability to wage a transformational campaign -- I just have not seen him move in that direction yet.    The reason I fail to mention the other candidates such as Biden or Dodd is that I have not heard enough yet from them to offer an opinion.  Though I am certain that one of the other candidates may be forced to run a bold transformational campaign as the only means to emerge from the pack.    It was about this time in the last cycle that Dean began to shake the party up at the DNC Winter Meeting of 2002.   Man does that feel like a century ago to this old hand.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-25 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Vilsack

Thanks.  No doubt, we'll be hearing about Vilsack's origins as much as we heard "son of a mill worker" in 2003; the question is where he takes it from there.

I still think Richardson can be that candidate as well, but he's got to lead on energy policy or something like that.

by Adam B 2006-12-25 10:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Vilsack

I like Richardson a lot -- I think he may be a very strong candidate -- but I have just not heard much from him yet to help evaluate what kind of campaign he would run.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-25 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Vilsack

Obama hasn't gone transformational.  But he hasn't really gone transactional either.  Rather, he's trying to be both a dry policy wonk and an uncontroversial platitudinous inspirational speaker.  Neither of which is going to be anywhere near enough to survive a 2 year presidential campaign.  He's exactly where he needs to be if he wants to launch a real campaign -- whether it be tranformational or transaction -- but he hasn;t launched it yet.  And there's very little way to tell what kind of campaign it would be, exactly  

by pontificator 2006-12-25 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Vilsack

agree completely -- but a guy can hope he goes transformational -- assuming he goes at all.

by JoeTrippi 2006-12-25 11:53AM | 0 recs
This is NOT a Binary Proposition

First off, let me say that I believe the Dean campaign changed American politics forever.  It energized thousands of people (many of them political neophytes) to become politically engaged and active.  Their political energies continue to be applied in many successful progressive political campaigns around the country.  Many recent progressive victories would literally not have happened had there NOT been a Dean campaign.  

The Dean campaign was also the first national campaign to spark a passionate, national interest in fusing politics with the power of the internet.  His campaign created an internet and politics wildfire that shows no signs of abating.  Politics will never be the same.  

And of course, on the money front, the Dean campaign demonstrated to an astonished country, that a presidential campaign could actually be FULLY funded by the grass roots, AND raise more money than all the other presidential candidates funded by the "powers that be."  The Dean campaign thus shattered all fund-raising precedents.  It stood the conventional wisdom on its head:  appparently, the grass roots can be more financially powerful in Presidential elections than the "powers that be."  Most people are still in denial about that change.

And so...a tip of the hat to Joe for all his great work on the Dean campaign.  You have my respect and admiration.  (I only wish you had stayed with the campaign longer.)

Now...moving on to Joe's proposition that a candidate is either transformational OR transactional...well...I think this paradigm is a bit too simplistic.  It wrongly suggests a simple binary proposition.  In reality, most candidates/campaigns have both of these in them, some transformational aspects and some transactional aspects.   What we are left to argue about then are the proportions.  I realize that such an argument is not as sexy as arguing an either/or proposition, but it does have one advantage.  It comports with reality.  

Most good people who are aware of the state of affairs in this country and the world, rightfully argue that we need much more "transformational" and much less "transactional" in our politics.  I agree.   It is self-evident that we need to empower more good people to do good work.  We need to transform the country on many issues including war, poverty, energy, and the environment.  Count me in.

In the case of Senator John Edwards, those of us who worked on his campaign back in 2004 know that he has always had both transformational aspects AND transactional aspects to him.  He wants change, significant change for the better here in America.  He believes it is not in the American character to be content with the status quo.  He wants to empower people, and yes, he has been known to preach about good people doing good work on the campaign trail.  Many people find him (and his personal history) inspirational.  He has enough experience in Washington to know what needs to be changed, but not so much experience there that he has become corrupted by it.  So...he has transformational qualities that will transform America if he is elected.

But, in order to accomplish signficant change for the better, Senator John Edwards must actually be elected President.  In order for that to happen, thousands of small strategic decisions will have to be made, correctly, in the upcoming presidential campaign.  Some of those small decisions may, I suppose, appear to be transactional.  In addition, it is in his nature to want to reach out and work with all people.  He is not fond of giving up on anybody.  Everyone has good in them.  That, I suppose, will also appear to be transactional to some.

Bottom line...expect to see a little bit of transformational and a little bit of transactional in Senator John Edwards' upcoming campaign.  Personally, I think he needs a little of each to win the presidency.  We are left to argue about the proportions.  

by Demo37 2006-12-27 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I won't support him in the primary.  I'd love to see a progressive win, but his vote for the war powers was such a huge mistake.  It was the safe way at the time.  It does not speak for his moral courage.  

by jono 2006-12-25 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

John Edwards should run.  Whether he will win is a matter of debate: but the reason he should run is that a primary with Edwards in it will force everyone in the primary to talk about economic issues.  It will change the nature of the debates: we won't be talking about "morality" -- which seems to be Hillary's topic of choice (video games? please)or dancing around the Iraq War (though it ought to be interesting to hear the candidates actually debate that one too) -- I want to hear some substance from our candidates, and I think Edwards will push the debate into economic realms that the "centrist" Hillary doesn't want to go -- and that Obama hasn't thought out yet . . .

Frankly, my take on Obama is that he's got a solid core but he's cautious.  And oddly, that he hasn't given himself enough credit and so has taken more of a back seat than he needed to.  Which has led to some disappointment with him among Illinois progressives . . .

by Maven 2006-12-25 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run
No question he should run.  He has the message!  The populist two americas theme will put him over the top.  There are a number running who undoubtedly would be good as president, but none would be better.  Getting back to the message, one must win before he/she can govern, and Edwards has the right message at the right time.  He'll beat Clinton, because she turned away from her progressive base; the only base she had.  Obama looks good but still is too much of an unknown.  He'll beat McCain because he turned away from his moderate base (although he has never really been a moderate, he played one on TV).  Giuliani, a potentially strong general election candidate, will never get through the republican primaries.  I'd love it if the Reps ran Brownback, probably the easiest rep. to beat now except for W.  That's about it for now.   Someone will likely come from nowhere, but today Edwards is it, even though the premature polls don't show it yet.
by joetalarico 2006-12-25 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

I've been leaning Edwards but I will be watching carefully for another progressive to emerge.
Obama strikes me as overly cautious.
I don't know Vilsack.

I want Kucunich to pressure others to be more progressive. I thought someone [Trppi?] would have mentioned him by now.

I know Dodd very well, I won't be supporting him for president, he compromises too easily.

Someone has to step up.

by bmelz 2006-12-25 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Yes, Kucunich has been mentioned up thread.

by bedobe 2006-12-25 02:06PM | 0 recs
Edwards is Visionary/Transformational

and wicked smart.  Thom Hartmann's definition of progressive is someone who stands up to the power of capital.  He feels that Edwards is "the strongest of the populists" and  "would vote for him in a heartbeat" and "would work for him."  Thom Hartmann's booked "Screwed: The Undeclared War on the Middle Class" is an eloquent statement of how we got into the mess that we are in now.  How 26 years of conservative voodoo economics along with capitulation by the left in things like  doubling the payroll tax and then stealing the money has pushed this country into third world status. If we cannot break the power of the multi-nationals, this country is doomed.  It may already be too late.  Edwards is the only one with the guts to stand up to that power. As far as politics is concerned, he's also much smarter than any of us.  He's been working on those 50% of the population who don't vote.  He is forming a new coalition that won't need corporate money.  Young people, women and Hispanics will join with the Reagan Democrats aka middle class workers to take this country back.  I saw the look in his eye when he said he would fight for every vote in Ohio.  The guy has steely determination.  Don't let the youth and vigor fool you.  The guy was a killer in the courtroom.  They said "You didn't see him coming until it was too late."  He's a very serious man trapped in a boyish body.  He's one of us.

by Feral Cat 2006-12-25 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards is Visionary/Transformational

You said it all.

by joetalarico 2006-12-25 05:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards is Visionary/Transformational

"If we cannot break the power of the multi-nationals, this country is doomed. "

And what is Edward's proposal for doing this?

"The guy was a killer in the courtroom."

Cheney beat Edwards in the VP debates and he was not a standout in the Democratic candidate debates.

Edwards is a nice fellow but I don't see him actually addressing the real issues facing the US today...Iraq, oil/energy, deficit/debt, health care.

 He says he's for increasing minimum wage and against economic inequality and to send him money.  Seems short on substance for someone has been running for president for eight years.

Is that the extent of his pitch on why he should be president?

by BrionLutz 2006-12-27 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

We have to realize that fear helps Republicans.  Appealing to fear and hate, Republican strategists have been able to get the Archie Bunkers of the world to vote against their economic self-interest.

A soft spoken advocate with the ideas, conviction and the rhetorical skill to shift the agenda is a huge asset for our cause.  With respect to shifting the agenda to progressive ground, Edwards has developed the best message.

Besides, Matt, you are not giving him enough credit for his efforts in support of the minimum wage referenda.  If we get card recognition that will change American politics for generations.  Edwards carries a progressive agenda right into the heart of the Republican base.

by Hellmut 2006-12-25 03:42PM | 0 recs
Yes, Hope vs Despair and Optimism vs Cynicism
Opportunity not Ownership.  Edwards often says that "Optimists built America,not cynics."  Optimists are what Americans really want and crave.  FDR, JFK, Reagan, Clinton... Eisenhower ran on "Vote Peace. Vote Prosperity.  Vote Ike."  Ike ran on a Peace platform for Christ sake.  Hellmut is right.  The American people are sick and tired of fearmongering.
Most people are fearful of loss of a job, healthcare costs, global warming, crime connected with poverty, but they want somebody with a plan. And Edwards is a pragmatist, a get 'er done guy.  He figured out that everywhere that minimum wages were raised the community prospered.  He figured out early on that if we don't get our unions back, we are screwed.  And he started with card recognition and helping to sign up the women and men working in hotels.  
I don't get this whole diary.  Standing up to Wal-Mart is easy?  Standing up for Unions which are at their lowest ebb is easy?  Standing with women hotel workers who have to flip those 100 lb. dream mattresses is easy?  Then why aren't all the candidate out there doing these things?  
Because the rest of them are same old same old defenders of the status quo.
And Edwards has said to get 40,000 troops out now or rather last November.  And he is the ONLY one to really be brave and say that we need to get the contractors out of Iraq NOW!  100,000 contractors are doing jobs that Iraqis can do.  They are guarding the oil fields.  They are pouring cement.  
He's addressed global warming in his big picture thinking about the corporations getting away with the murder of our environment.  We should be getting behind this guy and watching his back and cut to the revolution.  Viva Zapata.  Viva Las Vegas.  
by Feral Cat 2006-12-25 04:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

...Besides, Matt, you are not giving him enough credit for his efforts in support of the minimum wage referenda....

"All I have to say is what the girl said when she stuck her foot into the stocking: It strikes me there's something in it."

I was surprised by how poorly the Stem Cell Initiative did in Missouri (it did pass - barely). I was very surprised by the Minimum Wage Initiative - it passed - big time.

Missouri, November 7, 2006

Proposition B - 2006        
Precincts Reporting 3734 of 3734
Raising Minimum Wage
    Yes     1,594,632      76.0%    
      No     504,294        24.0%    
Total Votes       2,098,926

There is something in it. The republicans don't (won't and can't) have it.   

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-25 05:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

On the one hand, John Edwards is my favourite of the pack currently with hats in the ring, or standing on the edge, hat in hand, considering the hat toss. I love his politics, love his work, just plain love him.

But this is tempered with: can he win? I want the democrats to stand united behind someone who can WIN. I don't believe Hillary can, I don't believe Barak can, but I am on the fence about whether John Edwards can.

by jess999 2006-12-26 02:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run

Yes, Edwards can win.  He will bring the Reagan Democrats back into the fold.  They suffered hardest under the Bush economy and Giving working people hope, Edwards can explain to them how the Republicans exploited them.

Every state in Appalachia and the entire midwest will be in play because Edwards will take away a Republican core constituency.

by Hellmut 2006-12-26 03:48AM | 0 recs
Yes he can.

John Edwards effectively and sincerely uses the kind of language -- "It is wrong for 37 million people to live in poverty in this country" -- that will win the votes of working people who have voted Republican in the past because they were guilted into believing that it was somehow the moral thing to do.

Many of these people are looking for someone who speaks to their increasingly tenuous economic situation, and who does so using the language of morals and values that will allow them to change the way they have voted in the past.

by MeanBoneII 2006-12-26 05:47AM | 0 recs
Re: he can win
Here in Montana, his Southerness gives him an authenticity and trustworthiness that works.  He's a rural boy that understands the evils of big hog factories and other food factories.  We are big anti CAFTA/NAFTA folks here who hate the meat packing monopolies.  But he has to show up.  We vote for people who show up.  Kucinich showed up and placed second to Kerry.  
He has the right message at the right time.  Women voted for Democrats in big percentages in November as did the young people and Edwards has appeal for them.  But most of all he can bring back the Reagan Democrats, the backbone of our nation.  I hate to take Jim Webb away from Virginia so soon, but he would make an awesome VP.  And I want to see Ned Lamont in an Edwards administration.  So exciting, the possibilities after our 26 years of eating conservative gruel with a dollop of Democratic capitulation.  
by Feral Cat 2006-12-26 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Conflict

Out of 246 comments by now, no one seems to have taken you up on the subject of conflict, so I will.
You wrote,

 I'm not saying that the tone must be confrontational, only that there must be conflict.

So let's talk John Edwards. . . .


John Edwards, despite all his signals towards progressive ideals over the last few years, confounds me. . . . he was a DLC-style politician in the Senate, he voted for the war, and he hasn't as far as I can tell put himself in a position to fight alongside progressives on some major battle.  . . .

I see in Edwards and his family a desire to be liked and a genuine respect for people.  They don't reflexively dislike dirty hippy liberals, which is a big plus since that's actually the main cleavage in the party in a lot of ways.  In fact Edwards admitted he was wrong on the war, which still distinguishes him positively. . . .

Now here's the problem, and it's a huge one.  I see in John Edwards an aversion to any sort of conflict and a lack of killer instinct - just look at his debate with Dick Cheney in 2004.

We have two kinds of conflict to deal with here.

One is how he handles conflict within the party. You refer to the "main cleavage in the party" as feelings towards "dirty hippy liberals," and give  the Edwards credit that they "don't reflexively dislike" them, meaning they can work with them, I suppose. That's good, because that represents what Joe Trippi calls transformational leadership. Dean got killed in 2004 by wedge politics practiced by what Trippi would call "transactional" leaders in that, in my opinion, they focused on themselves as candidates who could win, and dissing Dean as someone who could not.

The second is how he handles (or doesn't handle) conflict with his Republican opponent. It seems clear, at this point at least, that Edwards seems intent on offering a positive message rather than a negative one. The key will be how he will handle the intense personal attacks that are certain to come. Your point, alluding to Edwards' apparent lack of a "killer instinct," seems to be that Edwardes can't win as Mr. Nice Guy. As Kerry's running mate, and witness to the effects of the Swift Boat attacks, one must assume that Edwards was somewhat involved in how to deal with those attacks.

Your thesis that Edwards isn't up to the knife-wielding attack posture that you apparently want him to have is supported by the fact that during the 2004 campaign, Edwards seems to have refused to play the traditional V.P. candidate role of attack dog for Kerry. Whether this choice was Edwards' own, or Kerry's, I don't know. But it may be that in this regard Edwards is more like Obama than he is like Hillary Clinton. It may be that Obama and Edwards are both instinctively the kind of "transformational" leaders that Trippi talks about.

Is there a modern myth about the necessity of confrontational transactional (in Trippi's terms) leaders, against which transformational candidates cannot hope to stand?

Bob in HI

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Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run
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Re: The Progressive John Edwards Should Run
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