John Edwards, Phony

The editorial page editor for The State (South Carolina) writes that John Edwards is a big phony both on the editorial page and his blog. He provides three examples. They aren’t the three worst things about John Edwards, but they do go along with everything I’ve disliked about his type of slick politician.

Edwards’ campaign has been struggling so hopefully we avoid having him on yet another national ticket, but at this point in the race there is plenty of time for things to change. Edwards is a masterful politician who puts on a great act, arguing his case to the voters on the stump just as he argues before a jury. He almost has the Bill Clinton act down, but he is not as smooth and, unlike Bill Clinton, has no qualifications to justify placing him on a national ticket. As Bob Shrum has written, Edwards is a “Clinton who hadn’t read the books.”

Edwards’ smile and campaign style might win some votes, but we should take the advice of a Republican here. “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

John Edwards represents the reasons why people distrust and even dislike politicians, independent of ideology.

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11 Comments

  1. 1
    Pug says:

    So you are going to be a stenographer for right-wing talking points. Nice analysis.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    These descriptions of Edwards are hardly “right wing talking points” Dismissing facts you don’t like as “rignt wing talking points” is not a meaningful analysis.

    A problem with the right wing is that they back people like Bush and Cheney no matter how bad they are for the country. People who are unfit to be President or Vice President should not be defended just because they are members of the same party.

    At some point we must look at the interests of the country over party. John Edwards is not qualified to be President. He’s one of the worst political phonys of either party. This has nothing to do with ideology but about looking out for the interests of the country.

  3. 3
    Brett says:

    The owner of a blog called “liberal values” accused of being a right-wing “stenographer.”

    Wow. Sometimes the liberal activists are just as close-minded as their right-wing counterparts. Amazing.

    While at times, Ron, you seem to have an irrational hatred toward the man, this article proves your point beyond all reasonable doubt. The fact that Edwards can just turn on that famous smile like a light switch is just chilling. Also, the fact that he just blew off those receptionists because they held no sway over the newspaper’s endorsement–rather than saying hello and engaging them in conversation like any normal socialable human being–speaks loads about who he truly is as a person, and I hope that this is the article that will serve as the death knell for his campaign. We cannot afford another calculating phony in the Oval Office like our current occupant.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    “and I hope that this is the article that will serve as the death knell for his campaign.”

    Unlikley that this will happen. While these stories are consistent with my view of Edwards, there has been better evidence of his character already available. People who were not convinced by the other signs will similarly ignore thiese. Besides, the first clue about Edwards was the nature of how he got into Presidential politics and his total lack of qualifications. Those who don’t care about that are simply not looking at him objectively.

    While I don’t think this article will hurt him any more than all the other information on him, most likely he will continue to decline. Richardson already looks like he has passed Edwards in terms of who has a better shot of winning, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Dodd does the same . However, things are quite volatile in primary races, and he can’t be counted out as long as he still has a number of supporters in Iowa.

  5. 5
    Kevin Hayden says:

    Odd, I always felt that Clinton came across like a used car salesman. I don’t get that sense from Edwards at all. I’ve seen enough politicians who can go from rage to full blown Ken doll when walking into a crowd, that I consider it just part of the campaign sales job.

    I’m neither selling nor defending Edwards, but these ‘revelations’ seem awfully thin. Lawyers are actors. So are politicians. And taking the approach of appealing to the poor for votes has never been a winning gamble, so I feel there’s something genuine there.

    And then there’s Elizabeth. As genuine a spouse as I’ve ever seen. I don’t think she’s faking it. She exudes trust. Her husband may lack the auto-charisma that some possess, but his professional record, outside of politics, has never leaked any clients who didn’t have nice things to say about him.

    No, he’s not an RFK natural, but such an animal is rare. If experience alone is considered, Richardson & Dodd should be the ticket. But that’s not likely. I think Hilary is less convincing and Obama’s lack of federal experience or executive experience places Edwards a step above.

    I’m much less inclined to vote for Hilary or Biden than anyone else running. Are you sure you’re not just reacting viscerally because he’s got that pretty boy look that some are always offput by?

    Again, I don’t mean to defend. I just want to understand what it is that others see that I can’t.

  6. 6
    Pug says:

    Dismissing facts you don’t like as “rignt wing talking points” is not a meaningful analysis.

    I didn’t dismiss any facts because you didn’t present any. You presented your opinion, which you are entitled to, and supported it with few antectodes from some other guy’s opinion.

    The other guy just happened to be the editor of a conservative newspaper that will back whatever candidate runs as a Republican and you simply repeated what he said.

    Frankly, I don’t think most people would be surprised to learn of a politician who can turn on the smile before he enters the stage. Chilling? Phony? Hardly. I would be surprised to find out they don’t all do that.

    If you don’t like the guy, that’s fine, but it is a visceral reaction and your opinion.

  7. 7
    janet says:

    I like John Edwards. I do not think of him as “phony.” Trial attorneys who spend their lives fighting corporations and insurance companies on behalf of injured people are not phony. You tend to get quite passionate about how profits matter at the expense of little girls who get disemboweled. I am one of those people who shares his passions.

    And believe me, if you win money from an insurance company, after your client is taken care of, it is satisfying to spend it.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Janet,

    “Trial attorneys who spend their lives fighting corporations and insurance companies on behalf of injured people are not phony.”

    It’s his actions as a politician, as opposed to as a lawyer (other than when he based cases on junk science) which create the impression of Edwards as a phony.

    Kevin,

    “Odd, I always felt that Clinton came across like a used car salesman”

    Yes, but at least he also had the knowledge of the issues and was qualified for the position. Edwards comes across as both a more dishonest used car salseman as well as someone not qualified to be president.

    These stories reinforce my view of Edwards but, as I started out the post, “they aren’t the three worst things about John Edwards.” See my ohter posts on him and the material in Shrum’s book on him.

    Among the other things which make him look phony:

    He got into politics by using his money to run directly for the Senate, which he used purly as a stepping stone to run for the nomination. He didn’t even have any interest in remaining in the Senate, being concerned solely with being president. All candidates show ambition, as I’ve discussed in a recent post, but Edwards takes this to a whole new level.

    During the 2004 campaign he was clearly not ready for prime time, and put his interests in running in 2008 ahead of the 2004 campaign, to the detriment of the campaign.

    After the 2004 campaign he set up his Poverty Center as a means to skirt FEC rules to campaign.

    He decided upon a strategy based upon a combination of winning Iowa and attracting net roots support. In doing so he came up with a laundry list designed to appeal to populist voters in Iowa and to a large segment of bloggers which are quite different from his positions in the Senate. This comes across as someone who will say anything for votes.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Pug,

    You sure have a number of defenses ready to protect yourself from counter arguments.

    “I didn’t dismiss any facts because you didn’t present any.”

    The post links to three items. I mentioned that these aren’t the worst three about Edwards. This is why blogs have tags as they link to many additional facts.

    “The other guy just happened to be the editor of a conservative newspaper that will back whatever candidate runs as a Republican and you simply repeated what he said.”

    You are falling back on the bogus right wing talking points argument, assuming that someone who writes something critical of Edwards holds such views. Have you actually read his work? He is critical specifically of Edwards here for characteristics which have nothing to do with party politics.

    For example, compare his wrtings on Edwards to what he says about Obama, along with his support for Jimmy Carter:

    The 23-year-old who still gasps somewhere within me is convinced that Barack Obama is completely for real when he channels JFK via Jimmy Carter. Remember Jimmy Carter — not the old guy with the hammer who shakes his finger at us like Miz Lillian when we fail to be sweet to other nations, not the Grand Incompetent of Reagan Revolution lore, but the original, the one whose green bumper sticker I had on my orange 1972 Vega back when even I was 23?

    The 23-year-old who still gasps somewhere within me is convinced that Barack Obama is completely for real when he channels JFK via Jimmy Carter. Remember Jimmy Carter — not the old guy with the hammer who shakes his finger at us like Miz Lillian when we fail to be sweet to other nations, not the Grand Incompetent of Reagan Revolution lore, but the original, the one whose green bumper sticker I had on my orange 1972 Vega back when even I was 23?

    He is hardly writing as a partisan Republican as you claim. His entire column was very favorable to Obama. In other recent columns, considering the recent bridge collapse, he countered the conservative slogan of “no new taxes” with “no new collapses.”

    Opposing Edwards does not make someone a right winger or a Republican. It just might make them an honest liberal and an honest Democrat.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    Kevin,

    A couple additions since I posted my initial response:

    “his professional record, outside of politics, has never leaked any clients who didn’t have nice things to say about him”

    Are you kidding? His professional record will be a major political issue if he gets the nomination. Of course clients who won lots of money thanks to him are going to have nice things to say. However, many of those cases were won on junk science.

    “Obama’s lack of federal experience or executive experience places Edwards a step above.”

    Obama has much more experience than Edwards. Each has one term in the Senate. While Obama hasn’t finished his yet, at least he shows he knows what he is doing. As I mentioned above, Edwards just used his term in the Senate as a stepping stone to run. When he did take a stand, it was generally the wrong stand, and now he has thrown out all his old positions to develop a new step.

    Obama has less experience than I’d like, but at least he showed that he was interested in working in government from the ground up. He’s worked as a Constitutional law professor, and his statements on the Constitution make me much more supportive of him than John Edwards who showed little understanding of the Constitution when he worked on the Patriot Act.

    Obama also spent time in the state legislature, and his long range plan was to wait until he spent more time in the Senate before running (as opposed to Edwards plan to stick to one term and run a perpetual campaign). Obama would make a better president if he had waited longer, but I can’t blame him for jumping on this opportunity. There’s no guarantee that he’d generate the same level of support if he waited.

    The ultimate difference between Obama and Edwards is that Obama has the characteristics to make a good president, even if it might be better if he waited a little longer. Edwards does not show he has the characteristics to ever make a good president.

    Another addition to my list of problems with Edwards:

    One day he attacks Obama and Clinton for attacking each other, but on other days he is more likely to be the one launching lame attacks on other Democrats. He has no business attacking anyone for trivial differences over the war considering the vast difference between Obama and Edwards’ views about going to war. More recently Edwards attacked other candidates for taking money from News Corp until it came out that he received quite a bit of money himself from them.

    He also comes across as hypocritical when he claims other Democrats are receiving their money from special interests considering what a huge percentage of his money comes from a single group. If not for the money from the trial lawyers, Richardson would have moved ahead of Edwards in fund raising and Dodd would be quite close to him. It might not necessarily be bad to receive all that money from trial lawyers, but it sure puts his attacks on other Democrats for their sources of money in a different light.

    Edwards is a guy who will say anything regardless of the truth if he thinks it will help him politically.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    Kevin,

    “And then there’s Elizabeth. As genuine a spouse as I’ve ever seen.”

    I don’t really want to get much into Elizabeth as the question is whether John would make a good president. Besides, we expect a wife to strongly back her husband and we might forgive some illogical comments of support. However, as this has become a topic in the blogosphere, there has been some writing in the liberal blogs regarding some of her more absurd comments. For example, here and here.

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