Feingold and Krauthammer Question Edwards’ Newly Developed Principles

Robert Novak is spreading a rumor that there might be a deal between Obama and Edwards in which Edwards becomes Attorney General. I hope this isn’t true as after the mess created in the Bush years we need someone with a stronger background in Constitutional law and civil liberties.

Edwards has also come under criticism from a couple different people today. Last week I quoted Russ Feingold as calling Edwards the most “problematic candidate.” Feingold repeated his criticism of Edwards in an interview with Huffington Post:

“I don’t understand how somebody could vote, five or six critical votes, one way in the Senate and then make your campaign the opposite positions,” Feingold said, expanding on comments he made a week ago to the Appleton (Wisconsin) Post-Crescent. “That doesn’t give me confidence that if the person became president that they would continue the kind of policies that they are using in the Democratic primary. I’m more likely to believe what they did in the Senate.”

Asked to explain what precisely he found problematic, Feingold offered that Edwards had “taken in” voters by switching positions on several key issues.

“You have to consider what the audience is, and obviously these are very popular positions to take when you are in a primary where you are trying to get the progressive vote. But wait a minute — there were opportunities to vote against the bankruptcy bill, there was an opportunity to vote against the China [trade] deal. Those are the moments where you sort of find out where somebody is. So I think, people are being taken in a little bit that now he is taking these positions.”

Charles Krauthammer expresses the same opinion about Edwards:

He stays in the race because, with the Democrats’ proportional representation system, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton might end up in a very close delegate race — perhaps allowing an also-ran with, say, 10 percent of the delegates to act as kingmaker at the convention.

It’s a prize of sorts; it might even be tradeable for a Cabinet position. But at considerable cost. His campaign has been a spectacle.

Edwards has made much of his renunciation of his Iraq war vote. But he has not stopped there. His entire campaign has been an orgy of regret and renunciation:

As senator, he voted in 2001 for a bankruptcy bill that he now denounces.

As senator, he voted for storing nuclear waste in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. Twice. He is now fiercely opposed.

As senator, he voted for the Bush-Kennedy No Child Left Behind education reform. He now campaigns against it, promising to have it “radically overhauled.”

As senator, he voted for the Patriot Act, calling it “a good bill . . . and I am pleased to support it.” He now attacks it.

As senator, he voted to give China normalized trade relations. Need I say? He now campaigns against liberalized trade with China as a sellout of the middle class to the great multinational agents of greed, etc.

Breathtaking. People can change their minds about something. But everything? The man served one term in the Senate. He left not a single substantial piece of legislation to his name, only an endless string of votes on trade, education, civil liberties, energy, bankruptcy and, of course, war that now he not only renounces but inveighs against.

Today he plays the avenging angel, engaged in an “epic struggle” against the great economic malefactors that “have literally,” he assures us, “taken over the government.” He is angry, embodying the familiar zeal of the convert, ready to immolate anyone who benightedly holds to any revelation other than the zealot’s very latest.

Nothing new about a convert. Nothing new about a zealous convert. What is different about Edwards is his endlessly repeated claim that the raging populist of today is what he has always been. That this has been the “cause of my life,” the very core of his being, ingrained in him on his father’s knee or at the mill or wherever, depending on the anecdote he’s telling. You must understand: This is not politics for him. “This fight is deeply personal to me. I’ve been engaged in it my whole life.”

Except for his years as senator, the only public office he’s ever held. The audacity of the all-my-life trope is staggering. By his own endlessly self-confessed record, his current pose is a coat of paint newly acquired. His claim that it is an expression of his inner soul is a farce.

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