Edwards Claims to be More Electable

John Edwards is trying to use John Kerry’s 2004 Iowa play book, but there’s a problem. While hoping to repeat Kerry’s path of taking a solid lead in the race with a win in Iowa, Edwards is trying to run on electability. The role of electability in Kerry’s campaign has been exaggerated, but to the degree it existed there was substance behind it. When people spoke about Kerry being electable it was because of his experience and knowledge of the issues. Kerry’s main argument in Iowa was not simply that he was “electable” but that he was the candidate best qualified to be President.

John Edwards can make no such claim. He has a single term in the Senate, much of which was spent seeking the 2004 nomination. There was nothing in his Senate career to justify his position as leader of a progressive movement. For Edwards electability does not mean that he has the qualifications to be President. It means simply that he claims he can win in swing states which presumably means parts of the south.

So far Edwards has done nothing to justify this claim. Not only couldn’t he win his own state when running for Vice President in 2004, but it was widely believed he could not win reelection to his Senate seat.

Of course Edwards isn’t the only Southerner with problems in the south. Al Gore couldn’t win his own state either. The problem may not be with the candidates but with the region. Rather than going for doubtful electability in the South, Democrats might improve their chances in the electoral college by looking for candidates who can do better in the battleground states of the midwest, or even bring in new states in the west.

Bill Richardson has a far stronger argument based upon electability than John Edwards if he can bring in western states. Electablility is hard to predict, and arguments could also be made that Barack Obama would be more electable than Edwards for mobilizing voters who want a change, or that Hillary Clinton would be more electable based upon her dominance in the debates and near flawless campaign.

If we desire a flawless campaign, Edwards has already shown one of his weaknesses. Yesterday Kos pointed out that all the talk over his $400 haircut was not totally absurd:

Some of you will shoot me for this, but the more time passes, the more his “haircut” deal pisses me off. Why? I see it as a stategic, tactical, and personal failure, and one that was so easy to avoid that it makes me question his judgment in a long, tough, presidential battle.

Strategic: There are two narratives Edwards’ opponents are building against him — one, that he’s a “pretty boy”, and two, that he’s so rich he’s out of touch with “regular” people. And in one fell swoop, Edwards reinforced both negative narratives!

Tactical: The only reason anyone knew about that haircut was because it was in campaign finance disclosures. Why was it in those disclosures? Because he used campaign funds to pay for the haircut! If he wants his pimp haircuts, I couldn’t care less. But why do it in such a way that it’s easy for your enemies to use against you?

Personal: I don’t know Edwards’ net worth, nor care. But he has a lot of money. I’m willing to bet that most of the small dollar donors Edwards has solicited don’t have that much. For them, that $20 or $50 or even $100 contribution is a big sacrifice. Yet given the choice between taking out his own checkbook or having his campaign pay for the $400 the haircut cost, someone made the choice to put this on the contributors. More than anything, it’s this that offends me about this incident. People expect their money to be well spent by campaigns, not used as personal slush funds for whatever luxuries they may want.

So as stupid and media-driven as that whole “haircut” mess may have been, it really was a disaster on way too many levels to completely ignore and shrug off.

Be Sociable, Share!

No Comments

1 Trackbacks

Leave a comment