February 27, 2006

Why the Dems Need John Edwards Against John McCain

I don't think Neil the Ethical Werewolf is as clear on this point as he could be, but I think that there's more than a little bit of smart analysis in his argument. If the Democrats are going to successfully explode the rather ridiculous "bipartisan" and "moderate" reputation that John McCain and his fawning media have created, having someone with working-class roots, a great smile and an aw-shucks manner as their nominee in 2008 would be a great help to their cause. For better or for worse we are stuck with a political system in which style counts for a great deal - and John Edwards can probably much more easily make the case that he's the candidate of the middle strata of the country, not the candidate of elite interests and partisans, than someone like John Kerry or Hillary Clinton can.

Posted by armand at February 27, 2006 03:35 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Politics


You are remembering that Edwards made zillions as a class-action hack, aren't you? I think he's unelectable without significantly more distance between here and there.

Posted by: jacflash at February 27, 2006 04:10 PM | PERMALINK

Don't the common folk love that? Isn't it like the second biggest dream after winning the lotto?

[tongue in cheek, tongue in cheek]

Posted by: binky at February 27, 2006 04:19 PM | PERMALINK

as opposed to all the lawyers in congress (dems and repubs to be fair) who made a fortune defending corporations against the maimed and just generally screwed people who were just statistics to corporate profiteers? that whole personal injury smear against edwards had no traction last time, and won't have much traction this time; he was very careful to take on a bunch of very sympathetic high profile plaintiffs (and unless i'm mistaken, i don't think edwards did a whole lot of class action work). that is to say, he wasn't a class action hack, he was a personal injury lawyer, and one with an impeccable reputation for integrity. bear in mind, he was up against the same "hacks" who brought us swift boat veterans for truth; if they couldn't muster any case to paint edwards as an unethical ambulance chaser, i'm pretty sure it's not there.

just as there are many scuzzy white-shoe hacks defending insurance companies, there surely are unscrupulous plaintiffs' attorneys. there are also positive examples of each.

just remember -- your world would be unbelievably more risk-filled and those with more power than you would be considerably less accountable for actuarializing your life and health were there not "class action hacks" and their ilk profiting by pursuing corporate malfeasance. there are white hats and black hats in every profession. whatever you do, jacflash, i'm sure you'd be offended if i held up the worst examples of your profession as representative of the whole.

"plaintiffs' bar = bad" is a meme beneath anyone with a knowledge of how our system works. i'm not saying the system couldn't benefit from some tweaking, but of what system isn't that true?

Posted by: moon at February 27, 2006 07:38 PM | PERMALINK


Thanks for the tirade. Too bad it's off topic. The actual virtues (or lack thereof) of the plaintiffs' bar are irrelevant here. The public image is what matters, especially in primaries. Surely you understand the game by now. Fact: Edwards made a fortune off of class action work. Fact: plaintiffs' lawyerrs in general, and class action lawyers in particular, are widely disliked, even if you and Consumers Union think they're the white knights of our age. Go poll it if you don't believe me, but before you do ask yourself why "ambulance chaser" is a pejorative. It isn't Halliburton's fault. Fact: you can howl all you like about weak minds and memes, but you won't change those perceptions any time soon. Reasonable conclusions: Karl Rove or his successors will crush him, and will do so in no small part by working the class action thing. Edwards needs more gravitas before he can be considered a contender, and the soundest way for him to acquire that gravitas is by holding more elected offices -- ideally, if he's serious about this president thing, by getting himself elected governor somewhere.

Posted by: jacflash at February 27, 2006 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

jacflash, they've tested that attack on Edwards endlessly. And you know what? It never works. Gets completely killed. Because John Edwards had the most cuddly clients imaginable. His biggest case involves this poor little girl who got her intestines sucked out by an ill-designed swimming pool drain, and is crippled for life. If you try to run against Edwards with some businessman who's telling a sob story about how Edwards sued him, Edwards gets to go on TV with poor little Valerie Lakey and her family, talking about how that mean old man destroyed her intestines. At the end of the day, John Edwards comes across as the guy who protects your children's intestines. It's the kind of thing that has a certain visceral appeal.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf at February 28, 2006 01:51 AM | PERMALINK

Edwards did not make a single penny in class action cases. He was a personal injury lawyer representing single clients. I don't know where you get your so called "facts".

And, the polls have already been taken in'04... a majority of people said that they saw Edwards' experience as a lawyer as a positive and not a liability.

And, Edwards has the highest favorability ratings out of any national democrat, and even within the party he topples Bill Clinton as the most favorable. That tells me people obviously don't have any such perception of him as jacflash is trying to create. He is absolutely more electable than most dems in the field now. And, he'll win against any republican other than McCain.

Posted by: Jane at February 28, 2006 03:56 AM | PERMALINK

Gravitas has nothing to do with winning the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. - look who lives there now. As Neil's post notes, the candidates with less experience win national elections with some frequency.

As to Edwards himself (who wasn't my guy last time out - I'm just posting this b/c I think he would indeed make a good contrast with McCain), he can run noting the following: he's not a child of privilege; he worked hard to get where he is (son of a mill worker); he's stood up for the little guy (or shall we say the parents who've children have died and though corporate America was partially responsible); and he can do it all with a smile, a drawl and a good head of hair.

If you poll "ambulance chaser", sure that'll look bad - but if you poll "successful guy who devotes his life to the causes of greiving parents whose kids have been taken by THE MAN cutting corners", that'll poll much better.

Posted by: Armand at February 28, 2006 08:39 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: binky at February 28, 2006 12:57 PM | PERMALINK
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