It’s about twenty degrees below zero outside, and, according to the weather forecast, there’s a blizzard headed our way. Clementine’s in bed, and I’m getting ready to light a fire in the fireplace. The wine’s already open and Mildred Pierce is all cued up… So, if you haven’t guessed, there’s not going to be a post tonight. You’re on your own. The comments section is wide open. Have at it.
Edwards dropped out of the race today.
I never thought that he had a chance to go all the way. Sure, I had my hopes. Early on, I hoped that he could win Iowa. I thought that if he could just do that, the press wouldn’t have any choice but to take his candidacy seriously. That didn’t happen though. He came in second, which you would think might have caused the media to reframe the way they talked about the primary, but it didn’t. They kept talking about it being a “two-person” race. And, eventually, the real world gave in and made it so.
A lot of folks out there think that Edwards was ignored by the national media because of his principled stand against insatiable corporate greed. I don’t know that it was all that calculated. I just think he didn’t fit the narrative that they’d decided on. The story of the first viable black candidate against the first viable woman candidate was just too compelling. There wasn’t room in the mix, in my opinion, for a white guy muddying the water with substantive talk of poverty, morality, and America’s place in the world.
So, I knew in my heart that he wouldn’t go all the way, but I kept writing about him here, and donating when I could. I wanted for his message to be heard this campaign season. I wanted his voice to influence the national conversation. And, at least on some level, it would seem as though it worked. Over the course of the past few months, both Obama and Clinton have moved to the left in response to the Edwards message and the way it was resonating with people. I think that’s a good thing, and I’m glad that Edwards and his supporters played a small part in shifting the national conversation, even if it was just a few degrees.
According to his farewell announcement, both Obama and Clinton have agreed to make poverty a central theme in their campaigns from this point forward. Here’s a clip from his speech earlier tonight in New Orleans:
…Now, I’ve spoken to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. They have both pledged to me and more importantly through me to America, that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency.
And more importantly, they have pledged to me that as President of the United States they will make ending poverty and economic inequality central to their Presidency. This is the cause of my life and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause…
According to MSNBC, indications are that Edwards will endorse Obama. Obama, when asked, said that he would “love” Edwards’ support… I can only hope that the rumors are true and that Obama, if elected, will name Edwards his Attorney General. I cannot think of a better, more passionate person to fill the position. I said it in an earlier post, but that alone, if it’s true, would be enough for me to support Obama over Clinton. (Right now, I’m still on the fence.)
So, what was the logic behind leaving the race now? I’m not sure. Maybe he wasn’t expecting to do well on Super Tuesday. If he thought he was going to pick up any significant number of delegates, I suspect he would have stayed in. I think the last straw was coming in third in South Carolina. That, I think, was his last shot to turn things around. So, he got out now, before Hillary and Obama really pulled away from the pack in terms of accumulated delegates. Now, he can endorse Obama, and share in some of the glory when he beats Clinton come Tuesday. Edwards has been pretty consistently taking about 15% of the votes, so, assuming his supporters listen to him when he gives his recommendation, it’s not hard to imagine that he could determine the outcome of the race.
So, does it suck that the only real progressive is out of the race? Yes. I don’t think, however, that it was all for nothing, and I do believe that he will continue to play a significant role in American politics. God knows that we as a nation need reminding that “we can do better.”
And, here, in conclusion, is a clip from the letter he just sent out to his supporters:
…And we do this — we do this for each other in America. We don’t turn away from a neighbor in their time of need. Because every one of us knows that what — but for the grace of God, there goes us. The American people have never stopped doing this, even when their government walked away, and walked away it has from hardworking people, and, yes, from the poor, those who live in poverty in this country.
For decades, we stopped focusing on those struggles. They didn’t register in political polls, they didn’t get us votes and so we stopped talking about it. I don’t know how it started. I don’t know when our party began to turn away from the cause of working people, from the fathers who were working three jobs literally just to pay the rent, mothers sending their kids to bed wrapped up in their clothes and in coats because they couldn’t afford to pay for heat.
We know that our brothers and sisters have been bullied into believing that they can’t organize and can’t put a union in the workplace. Well, in this campaign, we didn’t turn our heads. We looked them square in the eye and we said, “We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. And we will never forget you.” And I have a feeling that if the leaders of our great Democratic Party continue to hear the voices of working people, a proud progressive will occupy the White House…
It wasn’t all bad news today, though. Thankfully, that other great American leader, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit, decided to do the heroic thing tonight and stay in office despite the public outcry. My heart truly couldn’t have taken it if both of these great men had given up on the same day. (And, I am, of course, kidding about Kwame… The guy should be in prison for what he’s done to the city of Detroit.)
We’ve talked about it here before – the Board of Ypsilanti’s Riverside Arts Center wants to install an elevator so that the building’s upper floors can be accessible to the handicapped. It’s an admirable goal, but one that, I’ve been told, will cost between $600,000 and $700,000. As it was explained to me, of that cost, $336,500 would come from a State of Michigan grant (that had been redirected from the Water Street project when it stalled). The other half was to be raised by the Riverside Arts Center Board. Now, however, I see it being reported on Steve Pierce’s site that Ypsilanti City Council and DDA have committed “over $505,000 in taxpayer funding” to see the job carried out. My guess is that $336,500 of that is the State of Michigan grant mentioned above, but I’m curious as to where the other $168,500 in “taxpayer funding” is coming from. Could it be that the RAC Board has cut their fundraising goal, looking to the City to cover the remainder? And, if that’s the case, doesn’t that make the alternative we discussed last October even more attractive? Before we sink even one dollar of Ypsi’s all-too-scarce money into the project, shouldn’t we first make absolutely sure that the State’s money couldn’t be moved again, to another local project, like the rehabilitation of the Freighthouse, where no additional investment would be required?
Rudy Giuliani hasn’t placed in any of the previous Republican primaries. He says he hasn’t been trying. His strategy all along, he claims, has been to focus on the upcoming contest in Florida. When I first heard that, I was inclined to think, “Why would anyone seriously contending for the presidency bet everything they had on one primary?” Then I remembered that we were talking about Florida, a Bush-run state with a proud tradition of election-fixing. If that were the plan, it would only make sense not to try in the earlier primaries, where, in spite of your effort, you might do dismally. Better to lay low, not establish a track record of being a second-tier candidate, and then win big in Florida. Now I’m just waiting for Giuliani to “come from nowhere” and “win big” in the sunshine state, even though the last poll I read showed him a distant third… For what it’s worth, Rudy really seems to be trying in Florida though. He just sent a new mailing out to Florida Republicans this weekend, stressing his religious fervor. Here’s an image of the piece, which ran in today’s “New York Daily News,” and a clip from the article:
…The difference between Giuliani-the-mayor and Giuliani-the-presidential-candidate has been written about quite a bit. But not a few New Yorkers are still scratching their heads over the transformation of the twice-divorced, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, tough-talking Hizzoner who slammed then-state Sen. George Pataki for his over-ambitious tax cut proposals, into the man promising the biggest tax cut in modern history and touting his conservative credentials in this campaign lit…
Has anyone else heard this theory that Hillary threw the South Carolina primary on purpose, knowing that Obama’s success there would brand him the “black candidate”? If true, it’s reprehensible. More importantly, however, I think it might also be effective. Here’s a clip from “Mother Jones”:
The true legacy of this election cycle’s South Carolina slimefest remains to be seen.
In 2000, John McCain faced a do-or-die contest in South Carolina and got slashed by allegations that he had fathered an illegitimate black child and abandoned his fellow POWs in Vietnam. McCain lost in South Carolina by 11 points and his campaign never recovered.
This time around, the mudslinging occurred on the Democratic side. Clinton attacked Obama for supporting the policies of Ronald Reagan, a false claim, and many Clinton surrogates found ways to mention Obama’s religion or past drug use. And Bill Clinton called Obama’s record on Iraq a fairy tale, compared him to Jesse Jackson, and repeatedly brought up race, all while chastising the press for trivializing the campaign. Obama was baited into responding with his own nasty ads.
The result, even the Clinton campaign admits, is that the candidate who was once transcendent and post-racial is now very clearly “the black candidate”…
I don’t think that Clinton would have done this consciously, but I suspect that Obama’s winning South Carolina could very well work to her advantage. The good news is, it might not matter though. Today, Obama was officially handed the mantle of JFK. Hillary may be one of the most cunning political animals of our generation, and America may at its heart still be a racist nation, but I don’t see how she can possibly find a way around this newly discovered heir to the Kennedy dynasty. When Caroline Kennedy came out today and said that Obama “offer(ed) that same sense of hope and inspiration” that her father did, I think the campaign was over. America wants something to be optimistic about again, and now they’ve got it. They’ve been handed a new JFK.
And I don’t know if it’s true, or if it’s just something that John Edwards would like to see happen, but Robert Novak is reporting today that, if elected, Obama would make Edwards Attorney General. Right now, I’m still on the fence between Hillary and Obama, but, if this were true, it would be enough to sway me… The only thing I’d like better than Edwards as Attorney General is Gore as our Secretary of Energy. (I might even settle for seeing him as our Ambassador to the United Nations.)