John Kerry won most of the delegates Tuesday night while John Edwards won most of the applause. His speech after winning South Carolina’s primary wowed MSNBC’s panel. Dee Dee Myers resurfaced as a panelist during its coverage, tearing up as Edwards spoke of two Americas, two economies, two legal systems, etc. Former GOP Rep. Joe Scarborough, who noted Myers’ welling up, was mightily impressed too, placing the speech high in the annals of Democratic party speechmaking. “It rivals Ted Kennedy’s speech in 1980,” he said.
What Edwards means by two Americas isn’t clear. But as a high-priced trial attorney, it is clear which one he inhabits. Still, his bald demagoguery was effectively delivered. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand with treacle about his son-of-a-mill-worker Carolina roots, the great distance he has traveled from his modest childhood home, and so on. Kerry’s wooden demagoguery can’t compete with this. Dee Dee Myers opined hopefully that if the “bottom” drops out of Kerry’s campaign Edwards could surge.
John F. Kerry once had the initials JFK monogrammed on his white shirts, according to an old profile in the Washington Post. “Eventually, the joke was that the JFK stood for Just For Kerry,” it reported. But Kerry is not the JFK in this race. It is Edwards, who has women swooning over his politics of uplift, according to Dee Dee Myers. “Are you in love with Edwards?” asked Chris Matthews.
Kerry did try and compete with Edwards in heavily black South Carolina. The “Lehrer NewsHour” noticed that he ran ads touting his record in Vietnam, using a black war buddy in his South Carolina ad while using a white one in his Arizona ad.
Thanks to “campaign finance reform,” most viewers now probably only notice the ludicrous, “I am candidate x and I approved this ad” at the conclusion of them. (This is premised on the apparent theory that if candidates state this they will run more “responsible” ads, one more example of how “campaign finance reform” blatantly regulates political speech. Dennis Kucinich, by the way, fulfills his statutory obligation in the form of a question, saying something like, Do I approve this ad? You bet I do.)
The strong showing of Kerry and Edwards suggests the two may form a ticket, a ticket of two immensely rich insiders from North and South campaigning on behalf of outsiders. It could be a happy reunion for establishment liberals. While Dee Dee Myers sung Edwards’s praises, Greg Craig, Bill Clinton’s and Fidel Castro’s lawyer, appeared on MSNBC as an official in the Kerry campaign, speaking generously about Edwards.
They are happy that Dean’s campaign is dead, feeling safe enough now to eulogize him for putting “spine” back into the party, as Myers put it. But Dean’s intemperate liberalism will remain long after he has gone. The extreme character of the party’s liberalism is seen in the blistering attacks on George Bush as a monstrous conservative even as he moves to the middle. The more Bush moves to the middle, the more the Democrats have to move to the radical left in order to sustain their description of him as a “radical.”
The party that championed an obvious draft-dodger like Clinton is even trying to cast Bush as a military deserter. As the head of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Kerry applauded those who resisted war, and as senator never scrutinized Clinton’s record. When Kerry entered politics, some Vietnam veterans organized against him, supporting another Democrat in a local Massachusetts primary. General Patton’s son, according to the Washington Post, made a special point of opposing Kerry’s political career.
But now he has organized Vietnam veterans for his campaign, and done so skillfully. John Edwards has the rhetoric. But Kerry has the record. And soon the nomination.
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