So it is John Edwards, Sen. Lightweight. Kerry’s slippage in the polls dictated that he pick someone with flash and energy, but this choice won’t wear well because the country knows it is wartime, and it knows that John Edwards is no more prepared to run a war than he is to run a small state or a large corporation. He spent four years in the Senate positioning himself to run for president and two years running. That’s it. Aside from a talent for persuading juries to award money to injured people, John Edwards brings nothing to the debate except an ability to debate.
This is a pre-9/11 choice by a presidential nominee running away from 9/11. Kerry’s strategy is now fixed: Ignore the war unless asked, and downplay it when asked.
Mike Erlandson is the chair of the Democratic Farm-Labor Party in Minnesota. He’s very excited. He compares Edwards to Elvis. Great. Another serious American focusing on what it takes to be president when tens of thousands of Islamist fascists want to blow up the Americans they can’t behead. Read John Mintz’s assessment of the terror targets that the conventions provide in Monday’s Washington Post after reading the stories on Edwards’ selection. The anti-terror professionals have to be shaking their head. John Kerry could have picked anyone with any smattering of national-security credentials – even Hillary has more than Edwards – and there would be an argument that the veep was ready to step into the office if necessary.
So Kerry botches his first big decision by putting the major need – competence if disaster strikes – in a lower priority than political needs.
But did he even win there? Sure, the Democratic pros were in a swoon over Edwards, but all he won was South Carolina, and Tim Russert made him look like soft cheese last summer. Edwards is used to talking at people who can’t ask questions back. Perhaps he’ll hold his own, but he won’t even carry Carolina for Kerry. It does give Hillary even more reason to sit back though, as Edwards now has a lead in 2008 as presumptive nominee.
Don’t allow the hoopla surrounding Edwards to obscure the Time Magazine article on John Kerry’s childhood. Spooky stuff: “The Making of John Kerry.” This has the feel of a cover story, but Michael Moore’s on the cover in another blow to Democrats stuck with the largest albatross in American history hung around their collective necks. The Nancy Gibbs and James Carney piece must have folks inside the Kerry camp screaming at Time, as this article seems like it began as a make-up for an earlier Time article that described Kerry as the “Swiss-educated son of a foreign service officer.” Kerry gave an interview for it, as did many others close to him.
“Two years when you’re 11 or 12 does not a ‘Swiss education’ make,” huffs sister Diana Kerry. Well, yes it does. And the Kerry camp would have been better off leaving the childhood issue alone, because John Kerry’s was one very odd upbringing.
Read the piece carefully. I didn’t know that John Kerry was half Jewish, because I didn’t know that both of his paternal grandparents were Jewish, and apparently neither did Kerry until recently. I did know that his grandfather committed suicide – he shot himself, and Kerry says he thought it had been an overdose – but I didn’t know that John Kerry was born in Colorado because his father had been sent there on account of tuberculosis.
“He may be the senator from Massachusetts, but he is not from Massachusetts,” concludes Time. “He’s not really from anywhere.”
So the man from nowhere selects a trial lawyer with no experience to assist him in the hunt for the world’s most powerful job in the middle of a global conflict.
I just don’t see it happening. But I do foresee a campaign in which John Kerry will try anything to get elected in an extension of a career that has been about filling a pretty big void in his own psyche. Today that means picking a guy he doesn’t really like for a job he cannot fill, and tomorrow it will means whatever his advisers say he’s got to do to stay competitive.
The Dems are stuck with an odd man in an urgent time. Bush’s pollster Matthew Dowd says Kerry will establish a 15 point lead by the close of the convention only to watch it diminish in the weeks thereafter. Kerry’s not known for graciousness when the going gets tough. August will be interesting.