Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

July 8, 2004

Kerry's Choice

Choosing John Edwards as his vice presidential running mate was the smartest decision John Kerry could have made. Edwards is the best choice for the job and this decision confirms that Kerry has a lot of class. He wasn't afraid to choose the man whom he may not be comfortable hanging out with or who might possibly upstage him. In Kerry's words:

"I have chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America, a man who has shown courage and conviction as a champion of middle-class Americans, and for those struggling to reach the middle class. A man who has shown guts and determination and political skill in his own race for the presidency of the United States. A man whose life has prepared him for leadership and whose character brings him to exercise it."

There is no denying that John Edwards has vision. He believes in one America where everyone has the opportunity to build and live a better life, as opposed to the "two Americas" under Bush who broke his promise to be a uniter, not a divider:

"Today, under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America - middle-class America - whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America - narrow-interest America - whose every wish is Washington's command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a president."

He is charismatic and persuasive, the best person to help John Kerry convince the nation to make America whole once again, not divided along party and economic lines. His integrity, conviction and faith in our core values inspire optimism and the hope that in spite of the last four years, all is not lost.

Of course, the attack dogs were ready with their negative criticism of John Edwards even before they knew he was chosen. Let's examine their theme song, which I'm sure will be played repeatedly on every "fair and balanced" news outlet near you:

1. Edwards was not Kerry's first choice. The Republican National Committee already started running ads on cable called "First Choice", boasting that John McCain and not Edwards was Kerry's first pick for vice president. They conveniently ignored the statement from McCain's chief of staff Mark Salter ["Senator McCain categorically states that he has not been offered the vice presidency by anyone"] as reported by the Associated Press last June.

Kerry toying with the idea of running with John McCain, at the very least, shows that he is openminded enough to consider a bipartisan ticket; I don't know how that reflects poorly on John Edwards. Cheney himself was Bush's second choice as well. Who was his first choice? You guessed it, John McCain.

2. Edwards is inexperienced. They ignored the fact that Edwards and Bush had the same amount of experience coming in to their respective initial nominations. If it's good enough for president, why not for vice president? The Washington Post [registration required] provides this 1999 quote from Republican Senator Orrin Hatch:

"You've been a great governor," Hatch declared of his rival for the Republican presidential nomination. "My only problem with you, governor, is that you've only had four and going into your fifth year of governorship... Frankly, I really believe that you need more experience before you become president of the United States. That's why I'm thinking of you as a vice presidential candidate.

Which is exactly what Edwards was chosen for yesterday.

3. Edwards is a personal injury lawyer. This is a manipulative line of reasoning, using the public's distaste for lawyers. The bigger question is not whether Edwards is a lawyer--after all, most of our legislators and officials in government in both parties are lawyers--but whether he represented frivolous lawsuits.

The RNC should learn from the experience of North Carolina Senator Lauch Faircloth who lost his reelection bid to Edwards in 1998. He wanted to paint Edwards as a sleazy, greedy lawyer; instead, he only managed to paint himself as a champion of big corporations because Edwards specialized in representing average people against corporations and professionals who committed gross negligence or malpractice. The Washington Monthly describes his biggest case as follows:

The defining case in Edwards' legal career wrapped up that same year. In 1993, a five-year-old girl named Valerie Lakey had been playing in a Wake County, N.C., wading pool when she became caught in an uncovered drain so forcefully that the suction pulled out most of her intestines. She survived but for the rest of her life will need to be hooked up to feeding tubes for 12 hours each night. Edwards filed suit on the Lakeys' behalf against Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin corporation that manufactured the drain. Attorneys describe his handling of the case as a virtuoso example of a trial lawyer bringing a negligent corporation to heel...Before trial, he discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drains..On January 10, 1997, lawyers from across the state packed the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing argument...Three days later, the jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages (by state law, punitive damages could have tripled that amount). The company immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history. For their part, Edwards and Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.

4. Edwards is a liberal. A blatant attempt to divide the voters into party lines, between right and left as opposed to who's the best for the country. And exactly how liberal is Edwards? The Charlotte Observer [registration required] summed up the findings of the National Journal:

"He was more conservative than all but 10 of the Senate's 50 Democrats. Over his four years, the magazine said, Edwards fell into the 'moderage to conservative range' of Democrats. Edwards voted with his party 84 percent of the time last year and 90 over the four years, according to Congressional Quarterly Magazine. He supported President Bush 76 percent of the time last year and 80 percent overall."

Notice how the four talking points above are all about Edwards' personality and not the issues. I feel like banging a gavel and sternly admonishing, "stick to the issues, the issues, people!".

Really, is this the best they can do? I'll try to bite my tongue and not say bring it on.

posted at 9:55 PM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
(Dare to Know)
-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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