THE ARMCHAIR STRATEGIST | DAN PAYNE
John Edwards brings plenty to the party
CHOICE OF John Edwards for vice president pleased permanent Grouchy Class -- news media, DC Democrats, and Armchair Strategist. Edwards has got game. Great TV and retail campaigner. Says much about Kerry's self-confidence that he picked running mate who may outshine him.
Edwards's log cabin. "The son of a mill worker in Robbins, N.C., he bears the memory of his family going to a local restaurant after Sunday church, only to leave when his father realized they could not afford the prices on the menu," Sid Blumenthal writes in Salon.com.
This still gives me chills. From New York Times, Jan. 31, 2004: "In 1985, a 31-year-old North Carolina lawyer named John Edwards stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl. Referring to an hour-by-hour record of a fetal heartbeat monitor, he told the jury: She said at 3 o'clock, `I'm fine.' She said at 4, `I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing OK.' At 5, she said, `I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, `I need out.' "
But obstetrician waited 90 more minutes to perform breech delivery, rather than immediately doing Caesarean section. This delay, Edwards argued, permanently damaged girl's brain. In closing to jury, he said: "She speaks to you through me. And I have to tell you right now -- I didn't plan to talk about this -- right now I feel her. I feel her presence. She's inside me, and she's talking to you."
Jury came back with $6.5 million verdict. I want this guy on George W. Bush's case.
Trial lawyer. Edwards being trial lawyer is seen as asset by 67 percent, liability by only 27 percent (CNN poll). There goes greedy ambulance chaser argument.
Southern comfort. Edwards might make Louisiana and Virginia competitive. Could boost Democrats' morale in South. Force Bush to spend time, money there. And let US Senate candidates run openly as Democrats.
Meaningless polls. GOP-leaning Rasmussen poll has Kerry-Edwards up 48 to 43 percent in Florida. Rasmussen moves state to "Leans Kerry." One national poll shows Kerry gaining after Edwards, another has Bush regaining slight lead. But we don't hold national election. Besides, it's July.
Experience this. Since St. Ronald Reagan declared government was enemy, GOP has trashed political experience. Now it's good. Asked for difference between Edwards and Cheney, Bush said in exaggerated enunciation he uses when he wants to sound serious, "Dick Cheney can be pres-i-dent." Actually, he's already pres-i-dent, at least when Dubya is studying "My Pet Goat" after attack on World Trade Center. NBC found 45 percent think new guy Edwards would be better president than experienced Cheney, with 38 percent.
Cheney on hot seat. "Mr. Vice President," news comic Jon Stewart announced, "I have to inform you: Your pants are on fire." Cheney said he never claimed it was "pretty well confirmed" that meetings had taken place between Saddam's officials and Al Qaeda members. But Stewart's Daily Show dug up actual "Meet the Press" news footage from Dec. 9, 2001, with Cheney saying it was "pretty well confirmed."
Double Shrummy. Edwards and Kerry have both been clients of Kerry consultant Bob Shrum. Open secret that in 2000 Shrum lobbied for Edwards over Kerry when Al Gore was shopping for VP. Wall Street Journal and current Boston magazine looked at Shrum's presidential record. Let's just say Sox have won World Series more often.
Bush fatigue. GOP speechwriter Peggy Noonan says Kerry could win with nonmessage that says, in effect, Thanks, W, we'll take it from here. After 9/11, recession, fighting in Iraq, fighting with Europe, fighting with UN, US troops fighting and dying, Pat Tillman, and beheadings, Americans are exhausted. Analyst Mickey Kaus says Kerry could win without message because country needs break from Bush-Cheney-neocons bull-headedness of last few years.
Conventional disruptions. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge says has no specific threat that Al Qaeda will try to disrupt Democratic convention in Boston. Isn't that what Secret Service, police union, and Mitt Romney are doing?
Dan Payne is a Boston-based media consultant who worked on John Kerry's Senate campaigns and for Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential primaries. His column appears regularly in the Globe.
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