Night before last, I went to a little bar in Santa Monica to watch the Iowa caucuses on MSNBC with Drinking Liberally. I saw some old friends (Skippy, Shockwave), met some new friends (dday, occam's hatchet) and checked out the show on the big-screen TVs. Most of the time it was difficult to hear what was going on, but we could see the numbers going up - Obama at 38%, Edwards at 30%, Clinton at 29%. (For a rundown on the numbers and the money spent in Iowa, check BruinKid's DailyKos post here.)
The big news, of course, was that Obama beat Hillary.
According to the MSM, there are only two horses in this race.
Listening to all three of the candidates' speeches afterwards, I was struck by the non-specifics of Obama. For all his talk about 'change' and 'hope' and making things better, I did not hear anything other than vague feel-goodies. What I have not seen, other than his initial opposition to going to war with Iraq (which I commend) has been leadership in the sphere where he is currently working - the Senate. When Chris Dodd stood up against amnesty for the telecoms in the FISA bill, we got Obama (and Hillary's) hearty good wishes and nothing more. In many other places where he could have stood up for something, he votes 'present' without committing himself. Dodd's stance alone made me send him money and support. I want a candidate who's going to fight for something other than caucus votes. I was disappointed when Dodd dropped out, becuase he has shown me that he has principles that he is willing to stand up for - even at the expense of his Presidential campaign.
Also, I think Obama is dead wrong when he talks about 'bipartisanship' and ending the rancor between the two parties. He does not seem to notice that in taking that position, he is stabbing the Dems in the back, and is falling into the trap that the Repubs have laid - that of equating the relentless attacks on Dems with the idea that both parties are equally culpable. The Republicans have been doing this since Bill Clinton got into office - see Digby. He is either unaware of it - which is not a quality I want in the next President - doesn't care about it, or is part of it, which is not what I want in the next President either.
For Hillary to have the machine she has, and the money and effort she's put into Iowa, and still trail Edwards, does not augur well for the viability of her message. She, also, has not stood up for things I think are important when they come before Congress - unless she thought she could get away with it without ruffling any corporate feathers. She's disappointed me with too many votes for me to get behind her for President. I don't have the Hillary-hate that many people have, but I think her views are incompatible with mine on too many issues. I see the desecration of the Constitution and the death-grip of corporatism (both of which are culpable for the Iraq debacle) as the biggest issues we have facing us, and she does not strike me as a candidate that will fight for either of those, as well as being far too hawkish for my taste. We don't need a Maggie Thatcher as our first woman President.
So, yes, I support John Edwards. No, he's not perfect; the 'perfect candidate' could never hope to be elected to so much as neighborhood dog-catcher in our hopelessly unworkable election system. But I think that John Edwards 'gets it'. I thought so in 2004 also, and supported him then.
And I think the proof that his message is hitting home is the virtual media blackout around him.
Even though he was vastly outspent in Iowa by his Democratic rivals -
Obama (more than $9.5 million)- he was the second-place winner, beating someone who outspent him almost 2-1. But as far as the media were concerned, he might as well have stayed home. He is not a part of the History-In-The-Making® narrative of the first African-American President Candidate vs the First Woman President Candidate Death-Cage Smackdown. He messes up their nice little World Premiere Television Event.
Clinton (more than $7.5 million)
Romney ($7 million-plus)
Edwards ($4 million)
Huckabee ($1.4 million).
Of all the multi-candidate headlines on Google News, Edwards appears in just 8%, compared to 97% for Obama and 95% for Clinton.
In other words, out of 2,901 multi-candidate headlines, Edwards appeared in only 228. Obama appeared in 2,813. Hillary, 2,761.
But it's his message that makes the establishment shake in their Ferragamos and Bruno Maglis. He openly talks about takng on the corporations. What's more, he's done it successfully as a (...dum dum dum...straight from the bowels of hell...) trial lawyer. He understands that there are, indeed, Two Americas. And that's the last thing that the plutocrats want us to know. The more they hammer on about 'personal responsibility', the less they have to worry about corporate responsibility. But it seems that, somewhere, somehow, a few Americans are starting to 'get it' also - Republicans as well as Democrats. As David Sirota points out, populism is on the rise. The media is attempting to spin Huckabee's win in Iowa as merely an evangelical phenomenon. But Huckabee is also the only Republican who talks about poverty, job outsourcing, CEO overindulgence, and other economic concerns. And having people start worrying about those issues instead of the War on Terra, Islamo-Fascism™ and 9/11-24/7 is to be avoided at any and all costs.
The mainstream media, with its incestuous relationships with those in power, are desperately trying to pretend there's no such thing as John Edwards. The intrepid Elizabeth Edwards, however, ain't havin' it, and calls out the Tweetmeister, Chris Matthews on Hardball. (h/t Crooks and Liars) When he inevitably goes after Edwards for taking money from the dreaded trial lawyers (the bane of the corporatists' existence, and the only line of defense for an individual who has been wronged by an entity much bigger and richer than he or she could ever hope to be), calling them an 'interest group', she neatly disposes of his talking points, one by one. He weasels, she hones in. But Tweety's telling phrase is this:
"I mean, he’s not the first woman president, first African American president—this is exciting history. John Edwards is just another white Protestant from the South."Gee, Tweety. What a shame a great candidate has to go and ruin your frickin' "Movie of the Week." God forbid that a candidate with the interests of the American people at heart, not just the 'haves and the have-mores', should gum up the works when you have your Sweeps Week mini-series so neatly planned out. Perhaps it would be more interesting if, say, Edwards were to come out in a dress and pearls? The First Cross-Dressing President? (Never mind - Julie-ani's already covered that.) Or, maybe if Criss Angel were to have him materialize onstage in a puff of smoke, maybe with some devil-horns for good measure?
Won't somebody please think about the ratings?
(Update: for more in-depth analysis of the Incredible Shrinking Edwards, see JedReport.)