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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Dean is out
Working those many months, I resented Howard Dean and his legions of supporters who thought they were supporting a progressive candidate. The media effectively built him up as the left edge of the party because real change is not welcome to the powers that be. Then they dashed him to pieces in Iowa, and now he's out. And I'm sad about it! Because we're left with the two leading candidates having both voted for the war, having voted for the Patriot Act, and whose only real qualifications as far as I'm concerned are that they aren't George W. Bush. As I said below, I like Edwards much better than Kerry, so I'm semi-endorsing him, as if it mattered.

I didn't explain myself fully in my Edwards post because I had a meeting to go to. So I'll try to catch up now. I don't like Edwards for most of his positions. Not only did he vote for the Iraq war, according to his web site, he actually co-sponsored the resolution. He voted for the Patriot Act. So I'm gagging already. But Kerry voted for both, as well. However, I think Edwards' "two Americas" speech is the right approach to winning the election; bring on the class warfare, I say! The rich have been fighting the battle for 25 years--it's time to fight back. And it sounds like he'll do more to fix "free trade" than Kerry; Edwards claims that he would have voted against NAFTA if he had been in the Senate in 1993. If he would just endorse Kucinich's promise to withdraw from NAFTA and the WTO, I'd have one firm issue on which to prefer Edwards over Kerry. And although they differ widely on the issues, Kucinich seems to genuinely like Edwards, and vice versa. Edwards also stood up for Kucinich, Sharpton and Moseley-Braun when debate moderators were short-changing them on time.

I think we can compare Edwards and Kerry to Clinton and Gore. Edwards, like Clinton, is highly articulate and works well in impromptu question-and-answer sessions. He also seems to have few hard-and-fast principles, and seems willing to change them to suit the political winds. Kerry, like Gore, is stiff and awkward, and not good in impromptu sessions (I thought he was just terrible in all of the debates I watched). He seems to be willing to take some strong stands, like his anti-war position in the '70's (and like Gore's position on the environment), but he's also willing to abandon them when the political winds are blowing the other way (his vote for the Iraq war, and Gore's calling for opening up the strategic oil reserve to keep gas prices low shortly before the 2000 election).

I don't think either approach is particularly appealing--somebody who doesn't take strong stands, or someone who does but then abandons them under political pressure. But if Kucinich or someone else can get Edwards to adopt a few good positions on some issues (like NAFTA), he'll do a much better job of selling them than Kerry could. And while I think the "electability" issue sucks, I think Edwards would do a better job of selling himself to the voters than Kerry, at least to both the swing voters and the previous nonvoters, if not the core Democrats who have consistently voted for Kerry in the primaries so far. So, with Dean out and reluctantly feeling that Kucinich and Sharpton no longer have a chance, I'll support Edwards over Kerry.