John Edwards, Outsider


It would be no great feat of punditry to suggest that John Edwards is running as an outsider in this year’s campaign. Some thought that Edwards, who has held no office since the 2004 election, would struggle to stay relevant. Instead, he has used his absence from government to put the heat on those who still serve.
It’s been good to have him in this position. Edwards has pushed his party to stand up to President Bush on Iraq. He’s also tapped grassroots energy on climate change and poverty (both domestic and global) in ways that I think more candidates should. He’s also shown, contrary to conventional political wisdom, that acknowledging mistakes isn’t political suicide.
But I’ll admit I’m skeptical that he would do more to change the culture of Washington or stand up to special interests than other candidates – at least for now. The sitting senators who are running for president are reforming the way money leverages influence in the capital, even if the change is incremental and painfully slow.
Why am I bothering to write any of this? Because the Edwards Campaign just sent a 16-sentence e-appeal in which the word “Washington” appears 11 times.
The truth is that members of both parties use the “change Washington” talk year after year to challenge for seats in Congress and for the Presidency. Few of these candidates do much to change the way the process works.
I should add that the comment that has given Edwards this opening, made by Hillary Clinton, isn’t exactly wrong. Lobbyists do represent Americans and many of them do important work educating policymakers so they can make informed decisions. It’s the money that’s the problem, especially in elections.
I’m glad to see Edwards is pushing reform. He does support public financing of elections, which is hugely important. But if Edwards is going to hit us over the head this hard with anti-Washington rhetoric, I think we have the right to expect a little more in the way of specifics.
After all, only two years ago, John Edwards could have helped change the system as a U.S. Senator. We deserve to understand what sets him apart from the others running besides no longer having any responsibilities in government.
For effect, I’m copying the Edwards campaign e-mail below the fold.
— Scott Paul

On Saturday in Chicago at the YearlyKos convention, John Edwards challenged the entire Democratic Party to reform itself and end the practice of taking campaign money from Washington lobbyists.
“We don’t have to wait for a new law – the Democratic Party can end the game today – and from this day forward say to Washington lobbyists – your money is no good here anymore.”
“The system in Washington is broken – it’s rigged to serve the interests of those with the most money to throw around, rather than the best interest of the American people. The type of change America needs will never be achieved if we just replace the insiders from one party with the insiders from another party. That’s why the Democratic Party must lead the way in taking a bold step toward reform that will return the power in Washington back to where it belongs.”
But there are those in the Democratic Party who are unwilling to end their addiction to money from federal lobbyists – they do not understand that people like you will help fund a party that is truly a party of the people.
So reforming the Democratic Party begins with us – with John Edwards and you showing the way. Contribute what you can to the campaign today and prove to the Democratic Party that people will respond to a campaign that says “no” to Washington lobbyists.

The Republicans can keep taking money from all of the Washington lobbies – corporate lobbyists, insurance industry lobbyists, pharmaceutical industry lobbyists and oil industry lobbyists – because they’ve been doing the bidding of these lobbyists for far too long.
But the Democratic Party can reject all of the Washington lobbyists’ money and reform itself – solidifying our stature as the party of the people and forcing the Republican Party to either join us, or forever make clear to the American people who it is that the Republicans in Washington are working for.
And so your contribution today is more than a contribution to John Edwards — it’s more than a contribution to show the Democratic Party the path to reform. It’s a contribution towards making our government for, by and of the people.

Today in Iowa, John talked about how we need to stop writing and signing trade deals that benefit special interests at the expense of American workers. And he talked about how we can’t fix our trade policy as long as politicians take money from federal lobbyists and let them rig Washington against regular people.
If we are going to fix our trade policy, end the war in Iraq, win universal health care for every American, and end at game in Washington that rewards corporate greed at the expense of working people and our country’s future – we must be prepared to say not only that Washington is broken – but that real change will only happen if the Democratic Party truly becomes the party of the people once again.
Thank you for being part of the campaign to make it so.
Joe Trippi, Senior Advisor, John Edwards for President
August 6, 2007
PS – Watch the clip of John calling for reform at YearlyKos here:


16 comments on “John Edwards, Outsider

  1. MP says:

    POA writes: “They simply cannot break through the blockades that are placed in their path by the media, and the Washington coprrupt, in order to maintain the status quo.”
    The MSM are mostly lazy and take to recycling information without always examining it critically. They aren’t “selling” anything, as you frequently put it, nor are Steve et al.
    The fact is that Richardson, Biden, and Dodd–all Washington insiders and well connected to whomever they need to be connected to–are WAY down in the polls. Is it your assertion that the MSM has put obstacles in their path–that their is some sort of media/political conspiracy against them? And if so, for what reason? None of those three threaten the establishment.
    Moreover, Kucinich, Gravel, and Paul have gotten tons of exposure. They are on all the debates. This morning Gravel was on Diane Rehm to be followed soon by Paul. I’m sure Kucinich has been on and will be again. Both Paul and Kucinich are in Congress…so it’s not as if they walked out of the hill country.
    The point that you keep missing is this: It’s the candidates who have to do the selling. The selling of their ideas. The selling of themselves to the public as leaders capable of taking the country forward. Yes, the MSM can be unfair. They were unfair to Gore, IMO.
    But that’s life, to be blunt. It’s up to the candidate to push through. Lots of good candidates get trounced: Adlai Stevenson to name one; Gene McCarthy to name another; Ed Muskie to name a third; George McGovern to name a fourth.
    But the more that you and they whine about conspiracies (something that, actually, DK doesn’t do; nor does Paul, as far as I know) the farther afield you get. And your comments about me and my so-called motivation are beyond ridiculous, as always.


  2. Sandy says:

    As has been said already, Edwards is talking tough:
    From in Feb.:
    “…Indeed, some leading Democrats and prominent TV pundits still try to talk as tough – or even tougher than Bush – about Iran.
    For instance, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, supposedly one of the more liberal Democratic presidential candidates, spoke via satellite to a security conference in Herzliya, Israel, in January telling senior Israeli government officials that he shared their view that Iran was the world’s preeminent threat.
    “At the top of these threats is Iran,” Edwards said. “Iran threatens the security of Israel and the entire world. Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons. …
    “We have muddled along for far too long. To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate – ALL options must remain on the table.”
    Edwards even chided Bush for not being aggressive enough in confronting Iran.
    “To a large extent, the U.S. abdicated its responsibility to the Europeans. This was a mistake,” Edwards said in a speech that contained not a single critical word about Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, its settlements on occupied territory or its own large and sophisticated nuclear arsenal.
    Typical of Democrats
    In many ways, Edwards’s speech was typical of how leading Democrats pander to Israel for political gain….”


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Your bullshit is so transparent, MP. They aren’t “inept” at the message, or the implementation. They simply cannot break through the blockades that are placed in their path by the media, and the Washington coprrupt, in order to maintain the status quo.
    In truth, MP, if anyone at this blog cannot see, by now, what you are about, they’re an idiot.


  4. Jim says:

    to paraphrase Governor Schwarzenneger John Edwards is such a “girly man.” He still thinks it is the 1930s all over again. He would not defend the USA. He is a tax and spend Democrat even though the best way to raise revenue is to reduce taxes. He believes that I should pay for someone else’s education, health insurance, housing, welfare, etc, etc. I would not vote for him for dog catcher in a small town.


  5. MP says:

    POA writes: “Here, Scott Paul lauds Edwards for advocating reforms that Kucinich and Ron Paul have advocated for years. So why hasn’t he lauded Kucinich or Ron Paul? Could it be that reform is not the goal?”
    Or, could it be that no reform happens if you can’t get elected or otherwise lay claim to some power? Since these two seem pretty inept at that task–fortunately so in the case of Paul–lauding them for ideas which, by virtue of their own ineptness, they will never implement seems a waste of time. Oh sure, give them a credit in a footnote, if you must.


  6. R.K.Tirman says:

    “As special as John Kerry changing party tickets and taking his shot for 2008; all else has gone to the conjoining of Anthrological Society dialog in North America and,and a further reluctanse to hold on to a national adoption of the State of Texas Education policies.”
    >Mr. John Edwards would be well advised to leave polotics and find a nice English home in the United Kingdom, before a Global collapse leaves us here in the states holding our ankles.–“Die 143”


  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Nobody has mentioned Edwards’ collusion with Hillary to exclude other democratic candidates from the debates, overheard on an open microphone.
    In addition, here is a comment from Edwards, made in the 2006 American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference.
    “For years I have argued that the United States has not been doing enough to deal with the growing threat in Iran,” Edwards said. “While we’ve talked about the dangers of nuclear terrorism, we’ve largely stood on the sidelines as the problems got worse. I believe that for far too long, we’ve abdicated our responsibility to deal with the Iranian threat to the Europeans. That is not the way to deal with an unacceptable threat to America and an unacceptable threat to Israel.”
    What “unacceptable threat”? The IAEA hasn’t found one. Does Edwards know something they don’t, or is he reading from the same script these other posturing frauds are?
    Why is it we are being asked to accept the the candidacy of people that regularly distort reality in their campaign rhetoric? Can’t any of these bastards just speak truth?
    Here, Scott Paul lauds Edwards for advocating reforms that Kucinich and Ron Paul have advocated for years. So why hasn’t he lauded Kucinich or Ron Paul? Could it be that reform is not the goal? That the true goal is placing people in power that will maintain the status quo, no matter what their rhetoric is? If it is truly the idea that is laudable, why would you ignore the people that have given voice to that idea throughout their political careers?


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Edwards is making a very aggressive sales pitch – and that’s not bad. But before I buy, I want details.”
    Posted by Scott Paul
    Oh bullshit. You aren’t buying, you’re selling.


  9. jason says:

    I can’t find any specifics at the moment from his days as a senator, gq, but for 2 years after he lost in 2004 Edwards was the Director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity. I guess if you want to be a cynic, you can consider that political opportunism, but at least he was putting in the time. Scott is right to want to see specifics of Edwards’ plans to change Washington, but I wouldn’t use Edwards’ work on poverty as a comparable situation.


  10. gq says:

    I know exactly what you’re talking about, Scott. I haven’t been following politics all that long but every race has the same story line that you point out. It’s not even specific to Federal offices. It’s there even in the state level.
    I’ve heard it so much in just the last few years on every level that it means nothing to me anymore. And I share your skepticism of Edwards as well. Poverty is my biggest issue and I don’t remember Edwards being this champion of the poor while he had the means in which to at least try to combat it. I love what he’s saying, but he has yet to convince me that he has the political will and insight into how to make a genuine change.
    Talk is cheap. Especially when it’s made during a campaign.


  11. Scott Paul says:

    I’m all for reforming the way money influences politics. But I’m sick of hearing the rhetoric during every election cycle from outsiders who then come to DC and take a back seat on the issue.
    Everyone who runs against a sitting officeholder runs against Washington. Ironically, the winners then “become” Washington and have to fend off the same attacks. I think it’s one of the more silly features of the U.S. electoral system.
    It’s easy to promise to change the system. It’s hard to deliver – and those that do deliver, even by taking baby steps, ought to be commended.
    Edwards is making a very aggressive sales pitch – and that’s not bad. But before I buy, I want details.


  12. Carroll says:

    “But I’ll admit I’m skeptical that he would do more to change the culture of Washington or stand up to special interests than other candidates.”
    This post makes no sense.
    Your convoluted non-specific itself case for the virtues of “sitting senators” or the “establishment” vrs Edwards on political money reform is ridiculous.
    Do you think the “anti-Washington attitude, as you call it, of Edwards would take longer to affect some change in political money than the “painfully slow” Washington establishment you obviously are embracing in this post has taken?
    Or are you trying to say he is lying about his intentions and the other candidates aren’t simply because they aren’t for money reform at all and therefore have nothing to prove and this somehow means it all washes out as Edwards will do no better than the rest on it?


  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ah yes, lets laud the billboarders for suddenly acquiring the positions Kucinich and Ron Paul have held for years.
    Oops, did I mention Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich??? Damn!
    Sorry, Scott, I hope I didn’t cut into your sales commission.


  14. drsteveb says:

    Of the big three (Clinton, Obama, Edwards), one could make an argument that Obama or Edwards is the most liberal/progressive. Clinton is clearly the most conservative of those three.
    Since the inside the beltway mainstream coventional wisdomers are clearly going after Edwards much much more than Obama, it is clear that he is the one they fear. So, with all the right enemies, I would suggest he is the most progressive/liberal/reforming.


  15. Scott Paul says:

    I’m not suggesting Edwards’s plans on a number of issues aren’t ambitious – they are. In his e-mail, though, Edwards is spending a lot of time knocking “Washington culture,” lobbying, and the influence of money in politics. And to my knowledge, he hasn’t laid out much in the way of concrete plans to deal with these problems.
    Yes – I am cynical when it comes to campaign rhetoric. I don’t think Edwards would do less than the others. But since he’s promised more, the burden of proof is on him. I hope he meets it.


  16. Eric the Political Hack says:

    But I’ll admit I’m skeptical that he would do more to change the culture of Washington or stand up to special interests than other candidates
    You go on to mention Edwards coming out in favor of public financed elections, then assert that Edwards should give us “a little more in the way of specifics.” Your comments have surprised me a bit as I think it is pretty clear that Edwards has been the most specific with his plans for change when compared to the other candidates (certainly the top tier).
    His health care plan is certainly the most transformational, and while Hillary hasn’t laid out a plan with a bunch of specifics, she certainly has nabbed a ton of money from big pharma. That, coupled with her statements about bringing universal health care “by the end of my second term” could certainly make on wonder is perhaps she is not taking meaningful health care reform seriously.
    Clinton has been raising dough from interestes more conservative and entrenched than Edwards. Edwards has also been quicker to attack these interests. What makes you “skeptical that he would do more to change the culture of Washington or stand up to special interests than other candidates” besides come inherent cynicism.


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