John Edwards, Loser, But…

It should be pretty clear to readers here that John Edwards is one of the last people I would consider voting for. At the start of the campaign I had exactly the same question about him as I had in 2003-4, wondering how a light weight with so little experience, and who has been on the wrong side of major issues such as the war and Patriot Act, could be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Seeing him campaign through 2007 my opinion of him has fallen even further. (He gets some points for changing his mind on the war, but doing so after this has become the politically expedient viewpoint doesn’t mean as much.) While I still might disagree with some of the criticism of Edwards at conservative sites (along with agreeing with quite a bit of it), I generally agree with the criticism of him I see at other liberal blogs which are critical of him. However there is a post today which is getting a lot of coverage in the blogosphere which I can’t go along with.

I must admit I was somewhat amused by the start of Lawrence O’Donnell’s post:

John Edwards is a loser. He has won exactly two elections in his life and lost 31. Only one of his wins and all of his losses were in presidential primaries and caucuses. He remains perfectly positioned to continue to lose with a Kucinich-like consistency. Nothing but egomania keeps Edwards in the race now.

Well, its technically true. As a politician Edwards has been quite a failure. Besides this score, he could not have won reelection to his own Senate seat, he was a horrible VP candidate, and he couldn’t even bring in his home state in 2004. Still it does seem to be somewhat misleading to total up all the primary losses in a year which one candidate almost ran the table to come to such a score.

From there the post really goes down hill as O’Donnell demands that Edwards leave the race. I agree it looks very unlikely that Edwards can win, but that’s his call to make. It wasn’t long ago that Clinton’s prospects looked bleak going into New Hampshire, although I would still have placed her chances at a comeback as being tremendously better than Edwards’. There’s always the remote chance of a gaffe or a scandal arising which could totally change the race. Nationwide temporary insanity is always a possibility. A country which was crazy enough to reelect George Bush in 2004 just might be crazy enough to elect his mirror image from the left.

It gets even worse as McDonnell gives his reason why Edwards should drop out:

If John Edwards stays in the race, he might, in the end, become nothing other than the Southern white man who stood in the way of the black man. And for that, he would deserve a lifetime of liberal condemnation.

I hope Obama wins the nomination (for reasons which have nothing to do with race) but he is certainly not entitled to the nomination because of being black. If we accept this logic, as well as the premise that Edwards being in the race helps Clinton, then how come a black man deserves special consideration and not the potential first woman president? It is also far from clear that Edwards takes more votes from Obama than Clinton. Just yesterday I noted one analysis of the candidates which found Obama’s positions to be more unique, differing from those of both Clinton and Edwards. It is debatable whether Obama’s chances would be better in a two way race against Clinton. While I might not agree with their support of Edwards, I also bet most people who are supporting Edwards are doing so for reasons having nothing to do with standing in the way of the first black president.

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