edwards is out

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.)

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26 Comments

  1. Edwards Fan
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Now that there’s no one on the left, Nader might get in.

    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/75509/

    Ralph Nader has formed a presidential exploratory committee and is considering another run for the White House. He says, quite rightly, that Clinton and Obama have failed “to advance aggressive plans to tax corporations more fairly, and to fight for a vastly higher minimum wage,” and wonders “who’s going to carry the torch of democratic populism against the relentless domination of powerful corporations of our government” now that both Edwards and Kucinich are out of the race.

  2. Posted January 31, 2008 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    thanks Mark, for everything. And to Rob. I’m starting up a West Michigan blog and would love to pick your brain for advise. Send me an email and I’ll call you if you’re willing. — Phil

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Well, Mark, you pretty much said it.

    I’m left hoping Obama can pull it off, and start talking more directly about issues rather than just giving motivational speeches, however eloquent and inspiring they are.

    Personally, I can’t bear the thought of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton…

    Speaking of Bill, how different is what Kwame did from Clinton’s own purgerous affair?

  4. Uhhhh
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Kwame had three police officers fired when he suspected they knew too much about what he was up to. That ended up costing the tax-payers of Detroit $9 million. It wasn’t just a bj and perjury. There’s a long trail of shit that leads to Kwame. He runs Detroit like a mobster.

  5. Chelsea
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I would urge all of you to check out the candidates’ records and policies on the environment:

    http://grist.org/candidate_chart_08.html

  6. Posted January 31, 2008 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I feel better that Kwame will never “quit” on Detroit and its treasury. How else to underwrite so much douchebaggery?

  7. oliva
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Are you on the fence re. Obama and Clinton or possibly upon a bridge (from and to the 21st century)? Well, I hereby drop to my knees and beseech you, Please come over to the Obama side, please! (I’ll offer convincing argument if a simple plea isn’t quite enough!)

    I hope people are urging their kin and friends and whomever to vote well next Tuesday. To me it looks like Obama-Bloomberg with Edwards as AG (sorry, Russ Feingold, you’d be amazing as AG but are needed desperately in the Senate).

  8. oliva
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I meant to add words of praise and gratitude to John Edwards. Brilliant, passionate, brave, good-hearted man.

  9. mark
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m leaning toward Obama. I’m trying to keep an open mind though.

  10. mark
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    And thank you, Phil, for all of your hard work on behalf of Edwards. And thank you, Chelsea, for the link. And thank you, everyone else, for your comments. I’ve got a lot more to say, but I’ve got a fire to attend to.

  11. John on Forest
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m leaning toward the Democrats.

    I say that because the Michigan farce of a primary is over and I have no more say as to whether Obama or Clinton will be the nominee. Who ever wins the nomination will be a good Democratic candidate. There was even an opening in tonight’s debate for both of them being on the ticket in the end.

  12. Ol' E Cross
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Uh: Clinton’s affair with a twenty-something intern and following scandal, thanks to his purgery, cost Gore the election to Bush, which led to, among other things, a billions dollar war and thousands of lost lives. (Yes, I blame Monica for the war in Iraq…I’m only half joking.)

    More seriously, as a former Detroiter, I share the city’s chip. Ideally, I think Kilpatrick should resign. But, I tire of hearing the suburbs say he’s a “thug” who should “go to prison” when Oakland County is led by a bully/criminal who gets a free, lifetime pass for DUI from his police force, including wrecking county-owned Cadillacs on railroad tracks. I tire of hearing suburbs talk about Detroit needing to elect a mayor who can “work with the suburbs” when Oakland County exec, L. Brooks Patterson, (who is more politically powerful than Kilpatrick) makes non-cooperation with Detroit, on issues including regional transit, a badge of honor. (When was the last suburban election, of any kind, where you heard “We need a leader who can work with Detroit”?)

    If we really cared about the integrity and future of our region, Patterson should be target number one. I’ll vote to send Kwame to prison the day that Brooks is his cell-mate.

    I don’t care much for race as a card, but imagine if Kwame had Brooks’ DUIs and coverups on his record. Do you think the media would let it slide?

    So yah, Kwame is a fuck-up. But there’s a whole lotta fuck-ups in surrounding jurisdictions, who, like Clinton, seem to get a wink and nod from media and voters.

    Oh, and I’m a little drunk tonight.

  13. Chelsea
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I’ve concluded that no one can be president. What I mean is:
    I went to the Dem candidate Web sites to look up issue positions. Each candidate lists about 20, and swears that he or she is *THE ONE* who can solve all these problems. Yeh.

    Oliva: Please: Offer your argument. I’m listening. Same goes for any Clinton supporters.

    Thanks,
    C

  14. oliva
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    final sentence of nice Krugman op-ed in today’s NYT:

    “If Democrats manage to get the focus on their substantive differences with the Republicans . . . polls on the issues suggest that they’ll have a big advantage. And they’ll have Mr. Edwards to thank.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/01/opinion/01krugman.html?hp

    * * *

    Thanks, Chelsea, for the nudge to articulate concrete thoughts–beseeching is an easy impulse! I also appreciate your call to Clinton supporters to say why–I could really use some understanding. Today again, following last night’s debate, I find myself fending off ideas about why Clinton isn’t a good choice, but I mean to focus differently and present a case in support of Obama, and I will when I have some time to be thoughtful later today–when, it seems, some of us will be snowed in.

    My brother-in-law, who’ll be voting next Tues., asked for a bulleted list of points in support of Obama, and I gave it to him, and he said it convinced him, but I think he was leaning that way and just needed to feel that tipping point.

  15. Posted February 1, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Ol’ E Cross – I completely agree with you re: L. Brooks Patterson.

    I was seriously bummed when I heard Edwards had pulled out. I’m leaning toward Obama, mostly because I don’t think Hillary has a chance in hell. People hate her too much (I’m not quite sure why). *sigh*

  16. Lisa
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I found this really good list of 12 reason why Edwards supporters should support Obama, and thought of this thread:

    http://agonist.org/sean_paul_kelley/20080131/why_this_edwards_voter_is_now_backing_obama
    Probably better than I could have said it!

    (And yes, L. Brooks Patterson is not only one of the people most unhelpful to Detroit, but people I know who regularly deal with the Oakland County government and Courts system affirm that he is corrupt to the core…)

  17. mark
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all for the links. They’re much appreciated.

  18. oliva
    Posted February 2, 2008 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I’m leaning on the NYT from last July to support my views about Obama as the best candidate:

    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2007/07/29/us/politics/20070730_OBAMA_GRAPHIC.html

    My own arguments tend to sound more squishy, less fact-based–such things as rhetoric and lofty ambitions can really work together powerfully, as they have for moral leaders such as MLK and JFK. Obama has great intelligence, also humility to remind him that it’s important to take in many varied views toward a fuller picture (talking to our “enemies,” reaching across the aisle, etc.). He also has great ambitions for our country and considers the role of president to lead, inspire, guide (not dictate, run, terrify). He is a dreamer yet grounded in reality.

    My main squishy reason for supporting Obama is because he has been able to articulate perfectly something I’ve wanted to hear and believe in my whole life–that hope means having the courage to believe in dreams for a better future and country and to do the work necessary to make the dreams become reality. It’s an idealistic notion absolutely, but he argues that idealism is worth having–not only that, is necessary (not foolish, not ludicrous). There’s that wonderful phenomenon that happens when enough people join together to make things better–it’s a true thing, but we just need to believe it’s worth it.

  19. oliva
    Posted February 2, 2008 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I was going to avoid offering up negative readings of Clinton and just speak about why Obama, but I want to add one thought or two. Seeing Clinton’s demeanor after Iowa showed a person who is exceedingly competitive who had been beaten, and she was rocked, really shook up. And then at the debate the other night she spoke of the remarkable response she and Obama, the individuals, had engendered, blah blah, not the campaigns or the messages. When Obama speaks, he speaks of running for a reason bigger than himself and about humility and also uses “we” a lot. Clinton speaks of herself, winning. Maybe it’s just offputting to see so much raw political ambition and hard to believe it’s not Clinton’s main driving force, as opposed to concern for the country.

    And it’s true what people are saying about her explanation for her yes-vote on the Iraq War resolution. So many people I know remember being on the edge of our seats waiting for Clinton’s vote that day back in October 2002–we were sure she would vote no because by then everybody knew the Bush administration was hellbent on attacking Iraq. But she broke all sorts of hearts by voting yes and built into her argument that day that she trusted that Bush et al. would tell the truth. So one could fault her in all sorts of ways, but the main thing was people across the country and world were hanging on her very important vote. Now she’s pretending that we’re simply forgetting, saying that we’re misremembering and that back then we had no idea a yes-vote would make getting us into war much simpler, and it did. Is there any way to look at this–what people call the most important vote of her career–as anything other than a grievous error in judgment (was probably less judgment than political strategy)? If so, I would love to hear–

  20. Robert
    Posted February 2, 2008 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    The truth with the Edwards campaign is that we knew we needed to win Iowa to have any real chance at anything later. It was almost an absolute necessity to have that “spark” to start something for Edwards nationwide. The proximity of the Chicago machine was the single reason we were beat there in Iowa. (I’ll argue that point if anyone is missing my obnoxious combative attitude.) However, even with a win there, our challenges beyond that would have been huge. Iowa would have just gotten our foot in the door.

    I must admit, I fully expected the Obama “boom” to have gone bust long before now. He and his supporters deserve credit and encouragement. Their campaign has really been doing something incredible, which I saw first hand in Iowa. I think I owe Cousins Vinyl a sincere apology for the rotten way I dismissed Obama early on, citing similarities I saw in his campaign to that of Dean’s in 2004, and the racism which I feel is still frightfully strong in our country. I’ll admit now that Obama actually shows indications of being able to transcend a lot that nonsense.

    From the beginning of this thing I was an Edwards fan all the way. Now that he is out, I’ll say again that I am very happy with the field of candidates on the Democratic side (and not completely disgusted with one or two on the Republican side.)

    All I am concerned about is that we have an actual president once again, and not just some bad speech reading goon who serves only as a front man for the most self-serving and destructive interests in our country. We’ve had that for the past several years now and look at the incredible damage it’s done. I think even some of the assholes that pulled it off have to be a little bothered by where they’ve put us. I’m bracing myself for a next phase in their engineered disaster. But at the same time I’d like to hold out hope that our country might go through a period of renewed cooperation, hope and optimism.

    I think my motto has always been “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”

  21. egpenet
    Posted February 2, 2008 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Kudos, Robert, for your enthusiasm, spirit and hard work. You and the Edwards campaign should be proud.

  22. oliva
    Posted February 2, 2008 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Gail Collins wrote a funny but also pretty astute op-ed called “A Voter’s Guide” in today’s NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/02/opinion/02collins.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    For example:

    I am an independent and looking for a president with integrity. Should I vote for John McCain or Barack Obama?

    Didn’t we all swear to stop picking the candidate who would be most fun to go on a picnic with? You’re torn between the guy who’s been against the war from the beginning and the guy who’s willing to stay in Iraq for 100 years? Between the guy who wants to pay for a $50 billion-a-year health care program by eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy, and the guy who wants to keep the tax cuts and pay for them by cutting the budget? Get a grip.

  23. Dick Cheney's Taint
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Just read this and I thought of you Mark:

    http://nymag.com/news/politics/63045/

  24. Posted January 10, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Taint. I think you’ve just ruined my night.

  25. Robert
    Posted January 11, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad DCT didn’t think of me when he read it. It makes me sick just to think about the Edwards mess.

    Recently I’ve been wondering who on the campaign staff knew what and when they knew it. The moment anyone knew something had happened between Edwards and Hunter they should have immediately torpedoed the campaign. I know I would have, and without experiencing the least bit of guilt about it.

    People are now claiming they knew and were waiting to sabotage the campaign from inside when and if the time came that they would have to. That’s that slimy political bullshitting that makes me hate so many people in politics.

    We were so lucky Obama was able to beat us in Iowa. Things would have gotten horribly insane had we won there.

  26. More
    Posted January 11, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Check out Glen Greenwald’s take on the book here:

    …the book is filled with the type of petty, catty, gossipy, trashy sniping that is the staple of sleazy tabloids and reality TV shows, and it has been assembled through anonymous gossip, accountability-free attributions, and contrived melodramatic dialogue masquerading as “reporting.”

    http://www.salon.com/news/media_criticism/index.html?story=/opinion/greenwald/2010/01/11/halperin

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