First Thoughts on the Edwards Affair

This guy made his committment to his wife the centerpiece of his campaign and his political identity when he was having an affair.  That fucker.

We have a society where any mistake at all is torn wide open and we all watch in bleed on national television.  No wonder no one good wants to run.  Because no one good is perfect.  Stuff like this strikes the throat of empowerment and sends a very clear message to most Americans: You’ll never be good enough to run.

The difference between Edward’s affair and McCain’s divorce is timing and distance.

Speaking of timing, great timing having this come out now.  Thanks John Edwards for hiding in that bathroom from the reporters and letting the convention get closer before coming clean.

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Farewell Edwards

thankyouedwards.jpg

Your run for President had its moments of frustration and triumph, and ultimately, some despair.

You’ve dropped out, and left the race without a fully liberal candidate anywhere near the top.  Its no wonder Nader is making noises again.

Newsweek has already hit the floor with an awkward and sweaty eulogy.  They use the word “crazy” about 500 times in a 500 word article.  Subtle.  But John Edwards wasn’t remotely crazy.  He was a sane man running on the platform he should have run on in 2004, and saying things this country needs to hear.

I truly hope this is not the end for Edwards in public life.  Both he and his wife share a remarkable courage and will to fight, and the world is better off for their efforts.  I wish the Edwards family well, and send my warmest thanks and positive energy their way.

Now the task turns, painfully, to figuring out who to support.  I am already leaning towards Obama (as anyone who reads this space already knows).  In the coming days I’ll dig a bit deeper to see what I do and do not like about the candidate.

The graphic is from Obama’s campaign site, and although Hillary also had some nice parting words, it was good to see that Barack’s site admin featured the farewell prominently on the page.

Democrats United: Pre-Existing Conditions

Right now, you can be as hard working as you like. Got a pre-existing condition? Health Care denied.

One thing all of the Democrats share in common, from Obama to Clinton to Edwards, is the desire to pass a law outlawing discrimination based on previous conditions. (Edwards is the only candidate to support universal health care coverage).

Neither McCain, Romney, Ron Paul, Giuliani or Huckabee have a plan to deal with this. The Republicans as a whole are loathe to regulate the insurance industry on this vital matter.

This is a practical issue that effects many of us. It is an issue on which the Democrats present a united front, and stand firmly on the side of ethics.

Will Edwards Drop Out?

Edwards is the only thunderous progressive left in the race with even a hope of scraping a victory, and it looks like he might drop out.  He’s making brave noises to the contrary, but if he loses badly in SC, how will he gather enough delegates to win?  Where is Edwards leading in the polls?  Where does he have a superior ground game to the other Democrats?

I don’t know where this will leave me exactly, but I’ll have to support someone in the general election, right?  Am I doomed to take a couple shots of Jack Daniels before going in to vote Hillary Clinton into office?  To some degree the problem is with an election system and a media that heavily favors the status quo.  I mean look at the top dogs.  Hillary and Obama, Romney and McCain.  Does any of them really scream “change”?  Oh, Obama does, and on closer inspection I might be tempted to go along with him.  After all, most of the negative “Obama has no substance” coverage is coming from a decidedly conservative press corps desperate to sling anything at all slimy onto a rising star.

But most of the problem is with us, the American people.  People my age and younger are sharp, and going for the Obama brand of change.  But far too many Republicans and Democrats are buying into the cynical ploys of Clinton, McCain, Huckabee, and Romney.  Think about that for a moment.  A large chunk of this country wants to turn us into a Christian theocratic empire.   And they either want it directly, or they are willing to vote for the same people who have stood by for years and allowed our country to become something awful.  They call that experience.

The Media’s Soft Censorship of Edwards

Ignoring is a practical way to censor without the messy legal issues, and usually allows one to avoid inviting ethical criticism.  But the media’s censorship of Edwards is unmistakable (The Crone Speaks):

The Edwards campaign is coming close to drowning in a media black-out. Greg Sargent has the breakdown and analysis here.

Comes now some statistical evidence of this fact. The Project for Excellence in Journalism has released its latest campaign coverage index for January 6-11, a study that does its damndest to try to quantify which political figures are sucking up the most media oxygen and why.

It found that Edwards only got 7% of political coverage during those days — less than one-fifth of what Hillary earned, and less than one-forth of that accorded to Obama. Edwards even got less attention than Mike Huckabee, even though he, like Edwards, finished third in the New Hampshire primary.

The media has been trumpeting this as a Clinton Obama campaign from day one, and that has sculpted the terms of engagement and the nature of the game.  Cautious political investors who only pick “safe” stocks chose to send their money to Clinton or Obama depending on how much risk (aka “change”) they were willing to take.  Of course you have to have some opposition, or even Obama wouldn’t have garnered as much attention as he did (although part of that is likely due to someone on his team, perhaps the Senator, being quite media savvy).

So as hard as Edwards runs, and as well as he does in the debates, none of it matters, because the press won’t cover it, and voters won’t hear about it.

Isn’t it funny, how a staunch anti-corporate oligarchy candidate gets so little coverage?  Voters may not hear about Edwards himself much, but we are plenty aware of the corporatist mediaopoly.

Sexual Violence: Candidates and the Media

Dear Presidential Candidates:

Why aren’t you talking about rape? (Bob Herbert in the NYTimes via Feministing):

The sexual mistreatment of women in the military is widespread. The Defense Department financed a study in 2003 of female veterans seeking health assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly a third of those surveyed said they had been the victim of a rape or attempted rape during their service.

That was in 2003.  You all support the troops, right?  Are you including Rape survivors when you say that?  How will you help?

Of note, only two candidates have a specific issues section dedicated to women.  Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.  Of the two, only Edwards’ mentions violence against women:

Ending Violence Against Women

Achieving full equal rights for women includes the right to be free of violence everywhere. Edwards supports efforts to fully fund the Violence Against Women Act, which provides resources for crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and continuing education to law enforcement and the courts. Edwards will also aggressively support political and economic rights for women where they do not exist and supports efforts to reduce violence against women and children around the world.

To our conglomerated media companies:

Why do you treat cases of Rape, Abuse and Murder as crime thrillers?  (Feministing):

What (shockingly) seems to be missing from the coverage of both of these cases is a discussion of violence against women. In Henry’s case, it’s been difficult to find a lot news coverage at all about her disappearance–wonder why that is. In the coverage of Lauterbach’s murder, we’ve heard nary a word on violence against pregnant women, sexual assault in the military or the silencing of rape survivors.

We have an important opportunity to make problem of gender based violence a top issue now, and one we commit to fight.  To do this we need awareness and we need fighters.  We need the media to step up to their social responsibility and take a clear eyed and hard look at their own reporting, and politicians who are willing to both talk about the issues, and take immediate action.  And both need to keep the other honest.  We need politicians who will take the media to task for their coverage, and news organizations that will bring this up at news conferences and debates.

And candidates, if you’re listening, you don’t need to be elected to start.  Start now.  In the debates, in your campaign stops: make this your fight.

Why Clinton’s NH Win Hurts

SFGate:

The homegrown, Granite State feel of the Clinton organization mimicked that of Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 win here.

And we all remember how well that worked out.

There are a host of reasons why people oppose Hillary. Some are pigs who can’t stand the idea of a woman in power. Some are Republicans with an irrational hatred of the man who spent 8 years proving how useless the Republican party was, and anyone associated with him. But some are liberals like me. So what’s our problem?

Part of it is obvious on the surface. Clinton is more than a mushy centrist. She is a full blown conservative on many issues. When the conservative media garishly paints her in liberal colors, they are being about as accurate as attempts to paint the theocrat Huckabee as moderate or even liberal. Not buying it.

But the big reason is that Hillary Clinton doesn’t listen. And once she has power there is no reason to believe she will start.

I’ll support Hillary in the general over whatever raving autocrat the Republicans finally settle on. But her win in the primaries hurts the Democratic party. It rewards the spineless politics of leaving principles at home in the rush to the center, and marginalizes the politics of courage and hope. We can be so much more as a party. We can be brave, we can be liberal.