Edwards in Portland: at least one convert

I've been mostly on the fence with regards to the primary contenders. I like Obama's biography and his overarching campaign narrative, but John Edwards has been saying the right things. Today, in the ILWU hall in Northwest Portland, John Edwards won me over.

One of my reservations about Edwards has been that when I've seen him on TV he doesn't seem to be comfortable. He can come across as slick, a little condescending, and all around "too lawyery". But today he was none of those things. Aside from a few moments where he seemed to get tongue tied, he was personable, comfortable, and real.

More than anything, what impressed me today was his willingness to not just take a strong stand on issues (which he did a number of times), but to ask his supporters to stand with him and to build a lasting movement for good in this country and around the world.

The single moment, among many powerful ones, which cemented my support for Edwards was at the beginning of the Q and A session. He was asked (roughly): "Do you support corporations having the same constitutional rights as individuals?" to which he answered, simply, "no."

Maybe this was a matter of him misunderstanding the question, or at least not understanding the full import of the question, but I suspect that, as a lawyer, he knew very well what he was saying. This is a pretty big deal. Has any other candidate even addressed this issue? Would any other candidate even try to formulate an answer to that question, much less answer it so unequivocably?

The other very powerful moment was when he directly addressed the "Global War Of On Terror" question from the debate. He explicitly stated, I'm sure to the delight of the Netroots bigwigs in attendance (shout outs to Kari Chisholm and Jesse Cornett of Blue Oregon), that the term "Global War On Terror" is a right wing political frame used to justify their military adventures and torture camps. Then he said one of his best lines of the night:

Raw power alone will not make you a leader. You need to have moral authority

and went on to discuss America's role in the world with regards to Sudan, AIDS, and global warming.

That's one other strong point I want to address: his global warming policy proposals, while stopping short of the carbon tax Dodd has called for, are very strong. He is very vocal about a 25% rps and reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

The one moment which gave me pause was the only question he seemed to evade. A man asked if shutting down Guantanamo meant that he was going to push for a repeal of the Military Commissions Act and try the alleged terrorists in civil courts. He stammered a little, and changed the subject briefly to address torture, before saying that they should be given "a hearing of some sort". Hmm.

Anyways, all around, a spectacular performance. I'm on board and am about to make a (very small by virtue of my very small means) contribution.

Was anyone else there? What did you think?

Tags: 2008 elections, John Edwards (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

Welcome aboard

I agree that TV is not his best venue; people who get in the same room with him are generally swayed--which bodes well for his chances in the early states. I'm sorry he didn't have a better answer on the MCA--next time he will, I suspect.

by david mizner 2007-05-02 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Welcome aboard

I don't really want a better answer from him, if by better you mean a clearer way of saying the same thing. Because it really just seemed to be an elaborate way of not answering the question, which to me means he probably supports leaving the MCA in place. A better answer would be, "We should absolutely repeal the Military Commissions Act and restore Habeus Corpus, and I will work as president to do so."

by hubbird 2007-05-02 07:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards in Portland: at least one convert

Hello fellow Portlander, I didn't get a chance to see the event.  Sounds like JE was very impressive.  

I'm curious, however, at why you are saying he "won you over".  I can see why you would be impressed, but why not wait till you have a chance to see Obama in person?  From what you describe, I think Obama would be right there on the issue of extending free speech rights to corporations. He was after all a con law Professor. JE'position is pretty widely accepted in progressive legal circles.

I just posted a long Diary comparing Obama to Edwards.  
"Obama vs. Edwards: Measuring Progressiveness" http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/5/2/13545 1/4786#commenttop  I hope you will check it out.

by upper left 2007-05-02 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards in Portland: at least one convert

I say he "won me over" because he did. I've been pretty fed up with Obama's campaign for a little while now, from their stammering telemarketers calling about house parties, to their clumsy, moveon style money asks (give us moneyblah blah blah give us money blah blah blah give us money). But especially I'm disgusted with his support for the McCain-Lieberman global warming bill. I mean, seriously, WTF?

I understand the point you're making in your diary, and I think it's an important one. Obama does face some pretty significant challenges, and moving to the center is certainly one response to the challenges he faces. But I don't think it's the right response. Moving to the center is what weakened the Democratic party throughout the 90s, and standing up and fighting is what's brought us back in the 00s. Let's not forget that.

I agree, though, that both are quite progressive. I have no doubt in my mind that either man would make a tremendous candidate, and a terrific president. But Obama's tactic of surrounding himself with DLC people and framing his positions (what few clear positions he has) as "compromise" and "bipartisanship" really doesn't do much to win me over. Especially since this is him in the Democratic primary. Imagine how wishy washy he'll have to be in the general...

But I really didn't want to make this an Obama vs. Edwards diary, mostly just wanted to hear from other people who were there or had seen him.

Regarding the corporate personhood statement: you might be right. Obama might very well be right there with Edwards on this one. I just haven't ever heard him, or any other prominent politician, address the issue. It may very well be the widely accepted position in progressive legal circles, the question is, will he say it?

by hubbird 2007-05-02 07:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards in Portland: at least one convert

I was there with a couple friends.  I liked a lot of it and thought Edwards was very persuasive.  I loved his commitment to tackling global warming, though I do wish he would incorporate a carbon tax into his approach.  One of the moments I liked best was when he started to talk about climate change, he seemed to be really intent on trying to get people to understand the seriousness of the issue.  It was almost as if he was pleading with the audience to realize that this is just as big an issue--and bigger, really--than universal health care or the Iraq War.

He does come across as very genuine and committed in person.  I have a lot of trust in him and in what he says he would do as president.

The answer on corporations having the same rights as individuals is interesting.  The woman who asked it framed it in a pretty inflammatory manner, which you left out.  She said something along the lines of, "Do you think corporations should be able to have the same constitutional rights as individuals so that they can trample the rights of people?"  I can't remember the quote exactly, unfortunately, but it was close to that.

Edwards then just looked at her and said, in an emphatic and funny way, "No."

However, he didn't elaborate, and I wish he would have.  I assume he knew the question was related to the Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the rights of citizens, but he wasn't explicit about it.  My guess is that the answer means he doesn't support that, but it really wasn't clear, so I would be cautious about claiming that.  Does anyone know for sure whether or not Edwards supports that decision?

Also loved the GWOT smackdown.  That was one of the best moments for me, to see him come out strongly for that stance he took and to back it up with talking points.

by aimlessmind 2007-05-02 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards in Portland: at least one convert

Does anyone know for sure about the corporate personhood thing? It's not the kind of thing you're going to find on campaign websites, I'm sure, but are there any groups asking these questions to all the candidates and tracking responses?

by hubbird 2007-05-02 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards in Portland: at least one convert

This is why when people want clear answers from politicians they need to leave the bombastic language out of it. If the woman had left out the last part of the sentence, then we'd no for sure where he stands.

Oh well. Maybe someone in Iowa will ask.

by adamterando 2007-05-03 04:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards in Portland: at least one convert

I couldn't make it, but I sure wish I did.  I've only heard good things about his visit.

by jallen 2007-05-02 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards in Portland: at least one convert

Welcome to the fold. As a fellow Edwards supporter I couldn't be more thrilled to have you aboard.

by RDemocrat 2007-05-02 05:53PM | 0 recs

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