“They” Are Out To Shut Up John Edwards


Conservatives aren’t the only ones who are becoming more acceptive of conspiracy theorists. John Edwards thinks “they” are out to shut him up, and after seeing this video, I’d like John Edwards to shut up too. If this was simply something said while campaigning I might over look it as a bit of hyperbole and not a definitive statement of his beliefs. What is disturbing is that Ben Smith reports that a staffer from his campaign posted this at MyDD. Does the campaign really think this is a message that will help them, and has the liberal blogosphere become such an echo chamber that many will see this as good?

Ben Smith provides a transcript:

This stuff’s not an accident. Nobody in this room should think this is an accident. You know, I’m out there speaking up for universal healthcare, ending this war in Iraq, speaking up for the poor. They want to shut me up. That’s what this is about. “Let’s distract from people who don’t have health care coverage. Let’s distract from people who can’t feed their children…. Let’s talk about this silly frivolous nothing stuff so that America won’t pay attention.”

They will never silence me. Never.

If we don’t stand up to these people, if we don’t fight em, if we don’t beat them, they’re going to continue to control this country. Thye’re going to control the media. They’re going to control what’s being said. They do not want to hear us talking about health care for everybody.

I wonder if Edwards thinks “they” are out to get specifically him, as opposed to all those other people who are also calling for ending the war and universal health care. For a while I thought that Edwards had become more polished (even if no more qualified) than he was in 2004. Now I’m not so sure. Contrasting this with the type of video Bill Richardson’s supporters prefer to distribute demonstrates why Richardson has pulled ahead of Edwards in New Hampshire.

Update: Shut Up John, Part 2

Update II: Dan Conley compares Edwards’ statement to Clinton’s promise that “if you stick with me, I’ll stick with you until the last dog dies.” In both cases, the candidate was speaking when they were under attack. Conley finds one major difference:

There’s one problem with the Edwards version of “last dog dies” — Clinton’s focus was on voters. They may be attacking me, but they’re doing this to you and I’m going to keep fighting for you. That’s clearly the line of thinking Edwards is trying to pursue, but he doesn’t deliver the message correctly. Edwards’ focus is on himself — they want to shut me up and the issues I care about. A more effective construction could have been to say “they’re trying to shut us up.” Then he could have a Clintonesque pledge to keep talking about the people’s issues — health care, ending the war, fighting poverty, etc. — no matter how hard they try to silence us.

Another problem is that Clinton was being hounded far more than Edwards, giving more credibility to his statement. In Edwards’ case much of the criticism i is well deserved, and even the haircut issue came about due to a errors made by Edwards and his campaign. When Edwards speaks of such unidentified enemies there is more of a sense that he is trying to find excuses for his own failings. It doesn’t sound credible that there is a conspiracy to shut up Edwards and not other Democratic candidates who are discussing the same issues. In Edwards’ case, he is the target because of being the lightweight of the race, not simply because of his message.

Ultimately the real difference between Clinton and Edwards is a matter of substance. Clinton overcame the attacks due to both his political abilities and his detailed understanding of government policy. As Bob Shrum wrote, Edwards is a “Clinton who hadn’t read the books.” He might try to imitate some of Bill Clinton’s lines, but John Edwards is no Bill Clinton.

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