Saturday, December 30, 2006

John Edwards Goes to New Hampshire And Proves He Is A Terrific Candidate For President - But What About Iraq?

John Edwards proved yesterday that he remains a popular politician in the state of New Hampshire.

More than 1,000 people showed up to see the former South Carolina Senator at a "Town Hall" meeting at the Little Harbor School in Portsmouth. So many people showed up that hundreds were turned away.

Not a bad Granite State turn-out considering that Edwards just declared his intention to make a second run for the White House. Not bad at all.

The New Hampshire Union Leader has the traditional print media story on the Edwards visit here:

The Edwards' campaign is known to have a robust and aggressive new media strategy (thank you Dr. Dean), which is why Edwards met privately before the Town Hall with twelve local Bloggers to chat about his candidacy.


I was invited to participate in the discussion.

Very smart.

Two things I noticed about the other Bloggers invited to the Edwards chat - 1. they were capable, 2. they were friendly.

I helped crack the ice a bit by telling the Massachusetts folks,, that my nickname for Governor Mitt Romney was "Governor Big Love". They responded by telling me that Mitt Romney's real first name isn't Mitt, it's Willard.

Daily Kos rocks stars this bunch.

One Blogger I met was active in Ned Lamont's upset victory over Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary, another worked with Deval Patrick's campaign in Massachusetts during the 06' cycle.

It's new media politics baby. It's here to stay. Rock on early primary states.

The Edwards campaign even streamed the Q&A ("Pod Tech" and "Rocket Boom") for their website and YouTube.

Which makes good sense. Senator Edwards is a gifted talker. He looks good on film. The Internet is a content delivery system limited only by a campaign's imagination. It is bargain basement cheap.

And, most importantly for our dear Republic, Senator Edwards seems to have a depth of knowledge about what afflicts our country and what he intends to do about it - "Tomorrow begins today".

One of the Bloggers asked what he (Edwards) would do to end poverty in America. Edwards answered that he would raise the minimum wage, make it easier for unions to organize, modify housing policies and increase access to higher education.

He stated that the growing wealth gap in this country is a disgrace.

I agree with that. By anyone's standard, what we pay our so called "top CEOs" is disgusting and dangerous to the common good. I don't care how many times you've read Adam Smith.

Speaking of his goal to get the public excited about public service Edwards said, "I want Americans to feel patriotic about something other than the war."

God bless you. I agree.

Too bad for us that at the beginning of 2007 all the oxygen in the public square is being consumed by the War in Iraq. Not even John Edward's baby smooth demeanor can escape that fact.

Tomorrow, it seems, still begins after we fix what Bush started yesterday.

To confess, my own question to Edwards was on the Iraq War. So was my follow-up question. I couldn't resist. I'm merely a simple columnist. I opine on the reality of the present in the reality of the present.

What the Democratic Party - the MAJORITY PARTY of the U.S. Congress - is going to do about Iraq is the political question of the moment.

The Democrats have nothing resembling a unified front on what to do. They've got bad, worse and "blown up" options for Iraq. And, their ponies are already heading into the 08' ring.


To be fair, what the Republican Party has for political options with the Iraq War is almost as bad. But hey, we're the wimpy minority party and when that crazy bastard George Bush "surges"(which I actually support) we still have that crazy bastard George Bush.

Get it?

But the Democrats asked for majority control in the last elections and the American public gave it to them. All that was asked in return was that Democrats "take the War in Iraq in a new direction."

Not that easy.

Three options. They are all terrible.

1.You can stay the course.

2.You can go along with Bush and "surge".

3. You pull the troops out starting tomorrow, which means that you vote against funding the war.

Doing anything other than 2 or 3 is 1. (And this is your war too Mr. Biden - Mr. CHAIRMAN - it's not just the President's anymore)

I wrote about the Democrats Iraq problem several weeks ago here:

and here:

So, I can't say I was surprised to see the following story in my local paper on Friday -
It seems that soon-to-be Chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, Patrick Leahy, is exploring ways to cut off funding for the President's expected troop surge and the Democratic leadership, and their candidates for President, aren't exactly pumped:

Wait, troop surge? But isn't just stopping the surge simply maintaining the status quo? That's not a new direction! Oh well, I guess Senator Pat had to start somewhere.

Which brings me all the way back to John Edwards and the fact that on Friday I was sitting less than 2 feet from him when it was my turn to ask him a question.

No problem. Enquiring minds want to know. I even have the audio tapes preserving my moment in the sun.

Here is a imperfect transcript of my question to Edwards:

Clacker: "Senator Edwards, soon-to-be Chairman Leahy is currently exploring ways to cut off funding for the Iraq War. Do you support Senator Leahy's efforts?

Edwards: (2 minutes of verbal dodging and weaving) "No, I'm running for President, how can I agree with that? All 3 options on the Iraq War are terrible and if I choose any one of the three definitively, I'm screwed. If I don't act definitively I'm screwed. What a mess."

Clacker's follow-up: Senator Edwards, do you think that disagreement on the Iraq War within your Party will be a problem in 08'?

Edwards: (Another minute of verbal dodging and weaving) "No."

Edwards and I didn't disagree on much over the course of our 20 minutes together, but we disagree on his answer to that question.

The Iraq War question is going to tear the Democratic Party apart in 2008. It will take smarts and political skill to avoid the wreckage.

Edwards has both. In bunches.

Stay tuned.