Edwards Was Not Personally Involved In The $400 Haircut

It says something about how trivial political coverage has become when The Politico runs a headline saying Edwards not involved in haircut. According to Edwards, “Other people arrange these things, and I wasn’t personally involved in it.”

In that case, whose hair got cut?

Bill Clinton must be kicking himself for not coming up with this excuse for some of those women who were brought to him by the Arkansas state troopers when he was Governor. That line still works. “Other people arrange these things, and I wasn’t personally involved in it.”

Update: It looks like I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t resist blogging about this story. Iowa Voice attempts to make an analogy between this and Democratic political beliefs. I’m sure that post is written somewhat tongue in cheek as mine is so I won’t dwell too much on analyzing the specifics.

Iowa Voice writes, “So let me get this straight. Not only is Edwards pampered to the point of getting $400 haircuts, but he’s also pampered to the point where he has to hire people who themselves hire people to come and cut his hair?” That’s a bit of an exaggeration, as having existing staff handle such things isn’t totally far fetched, but its a real stretch to claim this is a “demonstration of a closely held Democrat belief here.” Still, this sort of thing should be taken as a warning of what we will see if Edwards gets the nomination. Edwards just has too little in the way of substance and qualifications, and way too much baggage, to take him seriously for the nomination. Edwards needs to take responsibility for his campaign–not attempt to pass the buck in this manner.

Update II: Oh no, the thought police of the looney left, no longer able to take a joke, is up in arms! Pamela’s going bonkers because I made a joke about Bill Clinton, as if that’s going to undermine all liberal principles. Incidentally, that’s the same Pamela who also threw a fit when I criticized Mel Gibson for his anti-Semitism. Apparently we cannot joke about Bill Clinton or John Edwards, and we cannot condemn anti-Semitism if it comes from a Hollywood actor. Anyone keeping the list up to date? Somebody better send the memo to Jon Stewert also, so he stops joking about politicians about both parties. I’m certainly not going to take it seriously when someone who has had the nerve to defend such anti-Semitism on her blog questions whether I’m a liberal.

(Following my posting of this response, the personal attack on me has been taken down, but this should serve as a reminder that bloggers can be held accountable for what they post, and that personal attacks in the blogosphere will generally lead to a response. There’s also that old glass houses saying.)

Rich, Successful, Democratic (and Leaning Gore)

While this AP report is primarily yet another story on people holding out to see if Al Gore runs, it provides further insight into the break down of traditional divisions between the two parties. Republican propagandists would have you believe that successful businessmen are invariably Repubicans, while Democrats are a bunch of losers who are fighting for government welfare. Silicon Valley is an excellent example to contradict these stereotypes.

The story quotes a Silicon Valley fund raiser as saying “The candidate of Silicon Valley is Al Gore. But he’s not running.” AP notes that “Silicon Valley tends to be libertarian” but this isn’t the hard core anti-government libertarianism which obsesses over whether everything from meat inspection to roads can be privatized. This is more a socially liberal, fiscally conservative viewpoint which wants to keep government off our backs, and finds that Republicans have broken this promise. The anti-science, flat earth views of the right are also less likely to be taken seriously by those working in high-tech fields. Silicon Valley, like many independents and former Republicans, has gradually been moving towards the Democrats:

Bill Clinton’s candidacy got a boost in 1992 when high-tech leaders, many of them Republican, endorsed him over President George H.W. Bush. Still, Clinton collected just $150,000 that election cycle from Silicon Valley, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Gore hardly did much better in 2000, when he took in about $650,000 to George W. Bush’s $1.3 million. Bill Bradley, Gore’s rival for the Democratic nomination, also beat him with $1 million.

Since then, the region has grown more wealthy and more liberal, becoming a frequent stop along the California money trail. In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry raised $4.7 million to George W. Bush’s $1.9 million.

It isn’t clear if people holding off on committing are solely waiting for Gore to run as opposed to using this possibility as an excuse to avoid committing to a candidate:

Some activists say the possibility of a Gore run has become a fig leaf for those who do not want to choose between Clinton and Obama.

“There are a handful of high-profile Clinton-Gore people who are sitting this out and are using Gore as an excuse,” said Wade Randlett, who is raising money for Obama. “It’s an excuse that’s really solving a problem for them.”

This desire to avoid choosing between Clinton and Obama could leave hope for another candidate if they should show an ability to contest for the nomination. I doubt that the big-government populism of John Edwards would be received well among the libertarian-leaning businessmen of Silicon Valley, but this could present an opportunity for Bill Richardson. Richardson has already attracted attention for some of his libertarian-leaning positions, and having broken into double digits in Iowa now makes him a credible candidate.

Republican Group Think Doesn’t Translate Well To Web

The free flow of information and ideas has always been a threat to authoritarianism. This applies to the Republican Party and the authoritarian right just as it did to the Soviet Union. The Republican propaganda machine which works so effectively on those who passively listen to talk radio does not work on the more free wheeling internet. The Washington Post reports that Republicans are concerned about their declining support on the web:

The most recent figures from Nielsen/NetRatings provide one measure of the gap. Looking at the Web sites of presidential candidates from the two parties, it found that former senator John Edwards’s site had about 690,000 unique visitors in March, when the Democrat’s wife, Elizabeth, announced that she had a recurrence of cancer. That was more than the combined number of visitors to the sites of the three leading GOP contenders, Rudolph W. Giuliani (297,000), Sen. John McCain (258,000) and Mitt Romney (76,000).

There are other measures as well. No Republican comes close to matching the popularity of another Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, the social-networking triumvirate. The Democrats are ahead in the online money race. The top three Democrats, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama and Edwards, amassed more than $14 million over the Internet in the first three months of 2007; in contrast, the top three Republicans, Giuliani, McCain and Romney, collected less than half of that, $6 million. Furthermore, ABC PAC, the conservative fundraising site, has raised $385 so far for Republican presidential hopefuls; Act Blue, its liberal counterpart, has collected about $3 million for Edwards alone.

To some degree this might be because of less enthusiasm for the Republican front runners, but there are also fundamental differences between the parties which is responsible for. This includes the Republican use of the web to spread the same talking points heard from the rest of the right wing noise machine:

But an underlying cause may be the nature of the Republican Party and its traditional discipline — the antithesis of the often chaotic, bottom-up, user-generated atmosphere of the Internet.

“We’ve always been a party of staying on message,” All said. “It’s the Rush Limbaugh model. What Tony Snow says in the White House filters down to talk radio, which makes its way to the blogs.”

That is certainly an important factor. It gets tedious to read the right wing blogs which repeat the same talking points, regardless of how many times they have been debunked. The lack of original ideas or independent thought among conservatives makes them of little interest to others beyond themselves. While liberal sites differ in how partisan they are, liberal sites are far more likely than conservative sites to present an honest picture rather than always staying on message for one political party.

There are additional aspects of the internet which don’t play well to Republican strategy. Republicans policies are frequently based upon denial of facts, as has been shown in many posts here and elsewhere. The absurdity of Republican positions becomes clear to those using the internet with easy access to information. Republicans frequently base their political campaigns on distorting the positions of their opponents, and misquoting them to make it appear they are taking off the wall positions. This works on talk radio, where ditto heads take in what they hear without it being contradicted. When they make the same claims on the web, readers who care to look beyond the conservative blogs are exposed to the actual beliefs of others. Intelligent readers are far less likely to return to conservative sites after seeing how their claims differ from reality.

Just as Republican policies are being repudiated as not being proper solution to today’s problems, Republican strategy no longer applies. While mass communication allowed conservative propagandists to effectively spread their beliefs in the past, the free flow of information on the web helps to break down the right wing noise machine.