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Tilting at Windmills

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June 6, 2008
By: Neil Sinhababu

TEN GOOD REASONS FOR AN OBAMA/EDWARDS TICKET....If you're a progressive Democrat, you should want John Edwards to be Barack Obama's vice president. I've made some of these points before, but now I've set up the slideshow! So enjoy:

10. Because he's the most Vice-Presidential candidate we have. For VP, you want a powerful campaigner who can use the media spotlight associated with the position to promote progressive ends and support the presidential candidate's major initiatives. Edwards is a good campaigner and speaker who knows how to focus media attention into places where it needs to be (see: poverty and health care). I'd contrast him with someone like Bob Graham, recently spotlighted in this space, who's much more the kind of guy you want in the Cabinet -- a quietly effective smart old guy with few campaigning skills and non-camera-friendly tendencies.

9. Because economic issues are huge this year. Matthew Yglesias presents this chart in a post titled "Annals of GOP doom":
This isn't 2002, 2004, or 2006. Economic worries are bigger this year than they've been for the last 30 years. In better times, I'd be more sympathetic to Matt Stoller's case for Wes Clark, but this is time to capitalize completely on the issue that voters think is the most important by substantial margins -- the economy. Obama's Iraq foresight will serve us well on foreign policy, and we need somebody who can make working-class voters in the economically depressed Midwest see McCain's anti-worker record and vote Democratic. Nobody in our Two Americas does it better than John Edwards.

8. Because conciliating Clinton supporters with a Clintonite is a fool's errand.By historical standards, this actually hasn't been a particularly divisive primary -- only 1/4 of Clinton supporters said they wouldn't vote for Obama. By contrast, a full 51% of McCain supporters said they wouldn't vote for Bush in March 2000. They still voted for him enough to give him the election. Nobody means what they say when you ask them that question at the most emotional point in the process. It's one of the reasons why I don't get angry at Hillary supporters who say they'll sit this one out -- most of them will rethink that in cooler moments and make the right decision. So don't do outlandish things for party unity. You'll get it anyway.

And unless my reading of the psychology is totally confused, Hillary's core supporters are attached to Hillary herself, who is in many ways an inspiring and sympathetic figure. Ed Rendell, Evan Bayh, and even Wes Clark aren't what their dreams are made of. So even if you think we won't get party unity for some reason, please don't think you can get them to act like Hillary's on the ticket just by picking some dude who endorsed her. (As for picking Hillary herself, I lay out a bunch of reasons not to do that here.)

7. Because running with someone who repents his pro-war vote throws Obama's skills into full relief, and keeps the focus on 2002. There's no way Obama should pick an unrepentant Iraq War supporter like Clinton -- he needs a fellow war opponent to make broad and effective criticisms of the neocons who started the war. As long as Obama has someone who wholeheartedly supports his early antiwar position and is eager to praise his foresight, he'll be in good shape.

Republicans have a superfically plausible case to make about the surge, even if it in fact neglects the entire purpose of the surge (to make room for political reconciliation). By contrast, the 2002 Iraq vote is nearly impossible to defend, and disapproval of the original invasion is around 70% in most polls. As Justin Tiehen suggests, media coverage of the relationship between Obama, who foresaw all the dangers at the beginning, and Edwards, who now hopes to redeem his acknowledged error by going all-out in favor of his prescient ticketmate helps to keep focus in the place where the Republican position is obviously indefensible. (There's also a really nice regional / racial redemption story in here, if you're looking for it.)

6. Because Pennsylvania tells us that Edwards helps Obama more than a locally popular Democrat. Take a look at the polling data:
How much does the Governor of Pennsylvania help us in his home state? Not as much as John Edwards does. Edwards is 3-5% better than Rendell in the state where Rendell is supposed to help us win. You don't pick John Edwards to help in the South or the Carolinas -- you pick him to help everywhere, because that's what he does. If you want more numbers, please go see OpenLeft's Paul Rosenberg, who concludes: "Edwards is superior to all other VP candidates by margins that persist in virtually every category in almost every state."

5. Because he did well in his last VP run. No major gaffes, and if only the Kerry campaign had followed his advice and hit back against the Swift Boaters, who knows where we'd be today?

as early as Aug. 5, when the Swifties were just getting traction, Edwards wanted to push back, hard. McCain had just told the Associated Press that the Swift Boat ads were "dishonest and dishonorable... the same kind of deal that was pulled on me." Edwards wanted to begin a speech, "I join with Senator McCain in calling on the president to condemn this dishonest and dishonorable ad." But Kerry headquarters said no. Stephanie Cutter, the boss of the Kerry communications shop, explained that the campaign didn't need to give the Swift Boat vets any more attention than they were already getting.

Dude knew how to play ball. As for his debate performance, a CBS poll of uncommitted voters -- the people you're trying to win over in a debate -- called it for Edwards 41-28. A before and after poll of the same voters also had him moving 1 percent of the vote from Bush to Kerry. And he's only gotten better with practice.

Some people complain that he didn't help Kerry in NC. But as the PA results above and the amazing MN results below suggest, it may just be that he helped Kerry everywhere to the point that North Carolina didn't stand out.

4. Elizabeth. The story of Elizabeth Edwards facing down cancer to keep fighting for everything she believes in is positively awe-inspiring. The more we hear about her in the coming months, the better.

3. Because you want a better health care plan. That's a link to Ezra Klein's classic article about Obama's not-quite-universal plan, which ends:

All the ingredients are in place for this to be a great plan -- a public insurance component, a commitment to universality, an understanding that coherence is better than fractiousness, a willingness to regulate the insurance industry -- but, in each case, at the last second, the policy is hedged before the fulfillment of its purpose. In this, Obama's plan is not dissimilar from Obama himself -- filled with obvious talent and undeniable appeal, sold with stunning rhetoric and grand hopes, but never quite delivering on the promises and potential. And so he remains the candidate of almosts. But as he told Morgan Miller back in March, there is time yet. And he is so very close.

If you want Obama to upgrade to a better plan, ask him to team up with the guy who had one. John Edwards introduced a plan for universal coverage very early in the campaign, pushed for it hard, and made the wonks cheer about how the goalposts had moved to the left. Unlike Obama's, it's a plan with a backdoor to single-payer. If you care about universal coverage, you want him in Obama's inner circle for designing the health care plan, and you want someone with his rhetorical talents on domestic issues to go around selling the plan to America.

2. Because Minnesota says that Obama/Edwards is well-nigh invincible. Here are the numbers:
Tim Pawlenty is the governor of Minnesota, and he's popular enough to add 10-13 points to McCain's score if he becomes the faux-maverick's VP. Against anybody except John Edwards, that is, who overwhelms Pawlenty. Even in Pawlenty's home state, where people know and like him best, they like Edwards better.

This is the acid test of VP electability advantage, and Edwards passes it like platinum. A Republican with huge local popularity does less for McCain than Edwards does for Obama, even thousands of miles from his sea-swelled Carolina home. If you want to win, you want John Edwards on the ticket.

1. Because you want him to be president in 2016. As Senator, he racked up a 100% NARAL rating while representing a solid red state (where he also defied fate by voting against the Flag Burning Amendment). Early on in this campaign, he introduced the health care and global warming plans that bid up the price of progressive support and made our activists cheer. He broke new ground on the left by rejecting the War on Terror framework when other major candidates wouldn't. His plans to reduce poverty in America, simplify taxes for 50 million Americans, and help poor people around the world were only a few of the great ideas coming out of his recent effort.

I once hoped that he'd set us on the road to single-payer (an outcome artfully built into his health care plan). Now I hope that he'll talk Obama into adopting that plan, help him pass it, and bring it to its happy conclusion ten or twelve years from now. Given the high chance of a non-old VP pick becoming president later, it's a serious possibility.

We're early in the process, and there's no telling who Obama's options are. And for all I know, Edwards might not want the job. (I don't read too much into people's denials of VP interest -- even if you want the VP slot, it's considered gauche to advertise your availability.) But it's a job that every progressive Democrat should want John Edwards to have -- not only because the data shows him to be hugely effective in helping us win the next election, but because there's no one better to set up as Obama's right-hand man and potential heir.

Neil Sinhababu 6:16 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (95)

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These guest posts get longer and longer. Of course, Edwards is a great choice for VP, but will he take it?

On the down side, Edwards was the VP choice last time. There is a "been there, done that" quality about the selection.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 6, 2008 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Eric on June 6, 2008 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

On the downside, he said he did not want the job, in large part because he's "been there, done that."

Posted by: richard on June 6, 2008 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

VP is a better platform for Edwards than he's had for the past four years. If he's interested in advancing his causes, he'd be foolish to pass-up the opportunity if offered.

Posted by: rusrus on June 6, 2008 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

I like Edwards and I really like Elizabeth. But his performance as the VP candidate in 2004 is still fresh in my mind. He was awful. Was it Kerry's fault for not utilizing him properly? Was Edwards subconsciously tanking for 2008? We'll never know. But the stakes are too high for a second chance.

Remember his debate with Cheney? Remember your expectations? He was the famed trial lawyer who was going to wipe the floor with the Lord Voldermort. Ugh.

Posted by: jacob on June 6, 2008 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

As Hunter S. Thompson wrote, Americans hate voting for losers. a plurality think they're losers in life, and they will never vote for anyone that looks like a loser to them. that's why Nixon beat McGovern: Nixon was obviously completely bent, but everything he did said he was a win-at-all-costs guy, unlike McGovern, who was clearly the principled sort of nice guy that always got screwed.

that's why Edwards is a bad pick. he's a two-time loser (2004 AND 2008), a lawyer (McCain in October: "Two trial lawyers in the oval office? THAT'S not change you can believe in!"), and he voted for war in Iraq, which dilutes Obama's position and gives McCain a rhetorical opening. super-great guy, though. i'd love to see Edwards campaigning all over the south and appointed health care czar or something, working with hillary in the senate.

Posted by: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail on June 6, 2008 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

@Jacob- yeah, i forgot to mention Edwards blew it in 2004. remember when he managed to hit himself in the face asking the father of a married child-bearing lesbian about his administrations persecution of same?

Posted by: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail on June 6, 2008 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Jacob, to be fair to Edwards on his debate performance, Lord Voldermort, although evil incarnated, was a class act in that situation. I loved the bit where Edwards did that whole long, phony "I am supportive of your lesbian daughter. Hey, Conservatives, his daughter has the lesbian cooties. But I support her. Oh yes." bit and Voldermort ignored the rest of the question and just said, "I thank the Senator for his kind words about my family".

On the wider point, it's not obvious to me that Edwards screwed up in 2004; I thought he did fine, and he certainly didn't do any harm, which is the most important aspect of being the VP.

And as for "been there, done that" - well, he's been the VP _candidate_. But this time the idea would be that he'd be the actual VP...

Posted by: Edmund in Tokyo on June 6, 2008 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Because Obama will not be ruling as a progressive, and Edwards will be confused bump on the wall.

Posted by: Matt Young on June 6, 2008 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

I was a strong Edwards supporter before he dropped out. I believe that during the primary season he actually grew as a candidate and as a person. I think his bus tour across the south opened his eyes to real poverty.

On the other hand the press has pegged him as a "pretty boy" lacking much substance. That frame has stuck. Remember four hundred dollar hair cut story? A truly unfair story but one that got a lot of traction. Anybody really think the other candidates don't have hair stylists and make up artists traveling with them from rally to rally? Well, John McCain should. The frame would be difficult for him to overcome.

On the plus side, he can give a great speech and his heart seems to be in the right place. I don't think I would worry much if he became President.

Richardson might be the best choice for Vice President, but he is a really bad campaigner.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 6, 2008 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

rusrus: "VP is a better platform for Edwards than he's had for the past four years."

Electoral politics is not the be-all, end-all of social change. Al Gore believes it, and now John Edwards believes it.

But perhaps he can be persuaded to stay in the game long enough to get the Dem ticket elected. I'm sure nobody would mind if he resigned a year or two down the road, especially if his wife takes a turn for the worse.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 6, 2008 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

The economic climate is different than 2004, and Edwards' message is different. Picture an unrestrained JE in rural MI, in Cleveland, in Harrisburg, PA.

No other option comes close.

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on June 6, 2008 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Fear and Loathing, while I don't disagree with your point, Nixon's not the best example of it: he lost the presidency in 1960 and the California governorship a couple of years later. Only because he stayed around to be kicked around (he had it coming) did he win in 1968.

I do think Edwards is better employed as AG or cabinet secretary than as VP.

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

How much of that polling data simply represents the fact that at this point in the campaign, people have heard of Edwards and not, say, Sebelius? And I'm astonished to see polling data suggesting that the choice among various presentable, sane VP candidates can make a 20-point difference in states like Minnnesota or Pennsylvania.

Posted by: rea on June 6, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

I recall reading that Edwards was restrained by Kerry and chafed at being held back.

Edwards would be a good pick. He is a tireless campaigner, he speaks well and he has already been vetted in the last campaign.

I'm not too worried about the haircut thing. No matter who is picked for VP the media and the right will find something to nit pick about (shoe shines, flag pins, hair cuts, meals). Anything but the issues.

If he is not chosen for the VP spot I'd like to see him as AG.

Posted by: JohnK on June 6, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

He is a trial lawyer who bombed in his debate with Cheney, a man who is a buffoon and a criminal. And Edwards did so because he was overly deferential (read: scared shit). I like Edwards. I supported him in 2004. But I have not forgot that debate performance.

Posted by: jonst on June 6, 2008 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Very convincing, but I am not sure about what it might do to Petey.

Posted by: theCoach on June 6, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

I think you're right on. Edwards was the only other Democrat I considered supporting (as a Republican). After reading enough of the vitriolic comments by Clinton supporters, I'm convinced she managed to coalesce bitter women who have been marginalized for one reason or another, and white voters who feel they need to legitimize their latent bigotry. Obama's best strategy is to campaign around that group, not pander to them. (And Edwards is great on the stump.)

Posted by: ted in pdx on June 6, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

I recant my prior post. (Should have read the others first.) Although I like this years version of John Edwards very much, I think the points raised by the other folks here are valid. In particular, I think there's an automatic penalty for choosing a VP who's already lost in that position (even though that's not really a substantive reason for disqualifying him).

This forum actually contains intelligent commentary. How refreshing!

Posted by: ted in pdx on June 6, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'm for Edwards in the highest and best position he can occupy. Veep? Depends on what kind of Veep Obama wants. Remember, until 1993 the VP was a nonentity.

And, in response to idiotic gibes about his hair cut -- "Who would you go to first, my barber or John McCain's dentist?"

Posted by: Stuart Eugene Thiel on June 6, 2008 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, Edwards is a great choice for VP, but will he take it?

People have a way of saying 'yes' when asked. I wouldn't worry about this part.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on June 6, 2008 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

I was underwhelmed by Edwards the running mate in 2004, but I thought that he used the down time to good effect, and he seemed to me a more solid and seasoned character this time out, although I could have stood to hear less about his old man and the textile mill. Yeah, the oppo will hang the "Breck girl" meme on him, but as someone observed upthread, they'll slime any number two.

It's been rather comic watching them trying to come up with a public meme to go with their anti-Obama whispering campaigns...

Posted by: Rand Careaga on June 6, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

For people suggesting Edwards should be Attorney General. That sounds like a very bad idea.

The next attorney general is going to have an incredibly difficult job to do: Prosecuting criminal offences committed by people during the current administration without it looking like a partisan witch-hunt. Getting this wrong will set a terrible precedent: Failure to prosecute crimes would mean that people working for the executive branch could do whatever they wanted, and failure to look fair enough would risk encouraging future administrations to use their power to try to jail their opponents.

It might seem nice to have a campaigning politician doing this kind of thing, but that would be a big mistake. This process has to be fair, and be seen to be fair. Obama's best bet would be a fair-minded Republican, if he can somehow find one. If not, he needs a non-party-political legal wonk.

Posted by: Edmund in Tokyo on June 6, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

I second the naysayers here -- John Edwards is past his sell-by date. He's made two runs for President, one for VP, and couldn't close the deal.

Posted by: David A on June 6, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

I hope Edwards isn't on the ticket.

Given that Obama stands in opposition to Edwards' progressivism, I don't see why the match would make any sense.

Obama seems determined to make sure there isn't anything real at stake this November, and putting Edwards on the ticket would work against that goal.

Mark Warner or Joe Lieberman seem more on Obama's wavelength.

Obama's made his bed as a candidate who stands for nothing, and he shouldn't be looking at progressives to help him out at this late date.

Posted by: Petey on June 6, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Neil: They still voted for [bush in 2000] enough to give him the election

I think you meant to say:
They still voted for [bush in 2000] enough to bring the election within stealing distance.

No, I'm not going to get over it, but thanks for asking.

Posted by: thersites the peace troll on June 6, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with Fear and Loathing et. al. about Edwards. He's already branded a "loser" and while it's stupid and idiotic that we have to pay attention to crap like that, we are talking about the US of A here.

Posted by: thersites the peace troll on June 6, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Petey I guess because you say so it makes it true. Unlike you I'm not a mindless boob. What was it that HRC didn't win so your pantiers are in a bunch. The american people are sheep. Lots of them voted for bush twice so what do you think we should send up a candidate preaching radical change? Jesus your a moron.

Posted by: Gandalf on June 6, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Edwards: Cheney played him and the media thinks he's Smiley McLookinthemirroralot with a canned stump speech.

Hillary: The media would argue that Hillary wears the pants and try to get Bill and Obama into a chest thumping fight over something random.

Richardson: The one with the devil goatee? He's not particularly good on his feet.

Webb: What's his opinion on Lynn Cheney's novels?

Graham: Beloved figure should be VP of a retirement home.


Let Obama decide his own poison.

Posted by: asdf on June 6, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

I still like the Wes Clarke idea.
We still need to hold the center.

Posted by: Paul Dirks on June 6, 2008 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Blaming John Edwards for losing as VP is pretty silly. Once the Swift Boaters and other slimers had done their job on Kerry, I find it hard to imagine there were many people out there willing to do the following mental jujitsu: "Well, I'm persuaded that Kerry is a phony and a pansy, but I'll vote for him anyway so I can have that nice Mr. Edwards as VP." As Drum points out, Edwards was the one who wanted to take on the Swift Boaters head-on; if the Kerry campaign had followed his advice, it would have made a huge difference.

Posted by: John Ham on June 6, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

No one's blaming Edwards for losing in 2004, just saying that he was part of a losing ticket, he didn't really add much to the campaign, and he dramatically flubbed one of his few chances to make a difference.

Posted by: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail on June 6, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

John Ham: Blaming John Edwards for losing as VP is pretty silly.

You're right, but it's not a matter of blaming him, it's a matter of how he'll be perceived now.

Posted by: thersites the peace troll on June 6, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Edwards is a good veep choice. All the reasons Neil picks and more:

1. Southern white male with accent. Duh.
2. Like Obama he is relatively inexperienced. The Republicans are running on experience, Obama is running on change. Change is the winner this cycle. Don't admit they have a point and pick someone who will make Obama look green in comparison, double-down on change. (The fact that for all his experience McCain gets the biggest stuff wrong is enough to work with).
3. Edwards can submit to the alpha male, which all veeps have to do during the campaign and in power.
4. Edwards' remarkable outspoken wife has cancer. I hate to be crass, but the sympathy she can get on the morning shows (which have primarily female audiences) will go a long way to healing the gender wounds. Oprah!!

Main worry: Rumors of an affair. He must be carefully vetted.

2nd main worry. Republicans will paint them both as weak, and he did get rolled in his debate with Cheney.

Posted by: tomtom on June 6, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

CNN reports that Edwards, traveling in Spain, has told two Spanish newspapers very clearly and unequivocally that he does not want to run for VP again.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 6, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Among "name" VP candidates, only Clinton and Webb would probably be worse than Edwards. His refusal to be hatchet man in 2004 (with, many suspect, an eye to 2008 already) is just the first reason.

I still say that Obama needs to look at a woman, just to make sure Hillaryites are on board.

Sebelius is No. 1, followed by Napolitano. If he goes with a man, Gov. Strickland of course gives him the boost in Ohio, and in neighboring states.

John Edwards can either be Secretary of Labor or go fish.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on June 6, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Here's an off the wall old white male possibility would would DEFINITELY be an attack dog against Schmuck Talk Express:

John Murtha. Goes to the heart of the "Appalachian whites" issue, too.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on June 6, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Um. Clinton. Period. Edwards doesn't want it and could you get a less appealing candidate. If everybody who said they loved Edwards in the blogosphere had actually voted for Edwards we'd be in a different boat here. The guy doesn't carry any water. What about the person who carried 18 million primary votes? Just a thought, Neil.

Posted by: on June 6, 2008 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

the "Appalachian whites" issue

Yeah, but here's a question. In the primary, Democratic "Appalachian whites" went mostly for Clinton. Race was likely a factor. But in the general election, would "Appalachian whites" go for any Democrat, of any race or sex, in large numbers?

I don't know the answer. But it's worth asking.

Posted by: thersites the peace troll on June 6, 2008 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

I also think he'd be poor as secretary of labor. While the subject matter dovetails nicely with his passion, that's a job that calls for a hard core wonk.

Robert Reich was perfect for the job. He still is.

Posted by: jacob on June 6, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

JMHO but I think "appalachian whites" will go for the candidate who is the least elitist.

And Neil, do you really think that post after post after post on who you want to be VP is going to influence Barack Obama? Like he said yesterday, people need to stop speculating on the VP. It will be his decision and his alone.

Posted by: optical weenie on June 6, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

rendell is confident and unequivocal that obamma will carry pennsylvania

no reason to doubt him

pres/vp candidate matchups are interesting

with cheney experience it may be a more important issue than it has been in recent years

i expect obamma will not pick someone on that list

Posted by: jamzo on June 6, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Now how about a list of negatives? Or is this all about getting Edwards on the ticket?

I know people who wouldn't vote for Kerry because they didn't want a trial lawyer anywhere near the whitehouse. I know it isn't rational, but most people aren't.

You could build a very similar list for Clinton, but you won't since you don't like her.

For example, healthcare is the big issue today, moreso then the economy. Most people remember how the Hillary wanted to fix it, but the Republicans shot her down.

Personally, I don't know what the f all this speculation is about because it isn't as though Obama or his campaign is going to be reading this and it will have any influence at all.

Let's just wait for his pick and then get behind it 100% and say what a genius move it is.

Posted by: DR on June 6, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Personally, I don't know what the f all this speculation is about because it isn't as though Obama or his campaign is going to be reading this and it will have any influence at all.

Because it's a political blog and political people like to talk about political things on political blogs. Who the vice president might turn out to be is an interesting subject for many people highly interested in politics. If people find such discussions uninteresting, there are many other interesting things to read on the tubes.

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

there are many other interesting things to read on the tubes.

I'll have turd pics, or someting equally cute, any minute. Can you wait?

Posted by: prismatic barfly on June 6, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

THIS POST IS just STUPID! Edwards has said and continues to say that it is NOT a position he wants or will accept! It's like the deadbrains that asked for MONTHS and MONTHS..."When will Hillary get out?"...well, she got out when she said she would, DUH...when the primaries were over...but I know we need things to fill up the space and airwaves even if they are just ridiculous repetitions of the same old crap!

Posted by: Dancer on June 6, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Dancer, I gotta ask: Do you talk like this in real life?

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I'm liking Edwards on the Supreme Court. Surprised this doesn't get mentioned more often. He's a strong progressive who is strong on women's rights, civil rights, economic fairness, protecting society's vulnerable. He's still young, so potentially around for a long time. He was a Sen which generally makes for easier confirmation hearings. And unlike Hillary I think the relatively slow and deliberative pace of the court would suit him.

Posted by: Bucky on June 6, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Edwards was disappointing in 2004, and, frankly, disappointing in 2008. He's a good guy, but not a "vote-puller."

Clinton is the obvious choice--or someone from Ohio.

Posted by: John Petty on June 6, 2008 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

I would say No. 1 should be "Because he's pre-attacked."

The Repubs have already swung at him. You pretty much know what they're going to say and can be prepared. That would make him a lot easier to vet than anyone else.

Posted by: BrianInAtlanta on June 6, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards polls very well. However, that support has never translated into actually winning votes in two different primaries and a presidential election.

Polling is superficial and so is Edwards' public persona.

Posted by: Brojo on June 6, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Earth to Unethical Moon, John Edwards has already said "no."


Are all Harvard dipshits as out of touch with reality as you? NPR had a whole bunch of Harvard grads griping that JK Rowling is beneath them and shouldn't have been their grad speaker.

Thank you for presenting the argument as to why the $34B Harvard Endowment should be taxed.


Posted by: Bad Moon Rising on June 6, 2008 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Edwards is not the candidate Obama needs this year. For some of the same reasons that Hillary is not the candidate. Namely, neither one of them are among the more experienced and accomplished Democrats from whom Obama can choose.

The single simplest bumper-sticker opposing argument to voting for Obama will be inexperience. Does he know enough to be president now? Isn't he rushing things a little?

Obama will have to counter this in several ways, one of the most concrete being a choice for VP that has "governing competency" written all over it.

He can choose a foreign policy candidate or a domestic policy candidate, but in either case it should be someone who gives a clear first impression as knowing what they're doing.

The best choice? Mark Warner, who has an unparalleled resume both in his career before politics and the remarkable things he did as governor. Warner is also a little better than the others on several fronts:

* He's still young-ish, and therefore gives the sense of a dynamic, forward-looking team when placed next to Obama.

* He has actually campaigned on the same themes of unity and bipartisanship that became the core of Obama's campaign. He's been out there promoting the same vision for many years.

* He's extremely popular in a key reddish-leaning swing state.

* He's focused on rural economic development issues, and is especially popular in the appalachian areas of Virginia where McCain would normally be trolling for votes. If the campaign can really make a pitch to these rural areas, it might help in other states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

There are other good choices for Obama this year. Among them, I would include Ted Strickland, Janet Napolitano, and Joe Biden, all of whom exude a sense of competency and expertise in some important aspect of government. But Warner looks to me like the best single choice for Obama.

Posted by: William Swann on June 6, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I screwed the pooch on the last one, but not the pooch that needed screwing. That's Earth to Unethical Werewolf of course.

Point still stands though, Edwards has said no.

John Edwards has ruled out being Barack Obama's running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket, according to interviews carried by two leading Spanish newspapers on Friday. "I already had the privilege of running for vice president in 2004, and I won't do it again," Edwards was quoted by El Mundo as saying. El Pais, the country's other leading daily, carried similar comments.

Posted by: Bad Moon Rising on June 6, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

I would have preferred Edwards to Obama as nominee. But for the VP forget it? This election, we don't have an attack dog in the Presidential slot. We need one in the VP slot. Edwards has never shown any signs of skill at that, not only in the infamous debate with Cheney, but in his run for President this time. Edward's shtick is "positive" and Obama handles that just fine. When the press starts pressing McCain's mavericky maverick suit, you need someone who can point out all the wrinkles in it.

Posted by: Gar Lipow on June 6, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

If you're a progressive Democrat who manages a hedge fund, you should want John Edwards to be Barack Obama's vice president.

I think most reality based progressives understand Edwards populism is an electoral strategy. The man has accomplished very little progressive good works.

Edwards had a great opportunity after his VP defeat in 2004 to become a progressive leader, instead he went to work for a hedge fund. He could have led the poor people of New Orleans back to their city. He could have led the antiwar movement. He could have done something for the environment. He could have bled through his eyes to oppose everything W. Bush, but he did very little, if anything, to establish himself as a progressive activist leader.

People think just because Edwards is from a southern state and speaks with a southern accent Southerners will vote for him. Others think because he is a good looking White male people will vote for him. Edwards' performance in two primaries and a presidential election has already disproven these ideas.

Posted by: Brojo on June 6, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Whoever the Democratic VP is, he or she has got to be someone who knows how to dish it out and who has permission from Obama to do so. The reason Gore and Kerry lost was because they allowed themselves to be slimed w/o fighting back. Joe Biden is an excellent counter puncher. Remember his crack about Rudy having only three elements to every sentence: a noun, a verb and 911? Imagine him being in charge of taking apart McCain.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on June 6, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards is just another dream ticket name, like Clinton; he would not pull in any votes that Obama doesn't already have. Best bet is a governor. Choosing a foreign policy maven like Biden accentuates Obama's lack of experience in that area; better to run against 8 years of Republican foreign policy experience that has not helped the interests of ordinary Americans.

Posted by: coldhotel on June 6, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Because economic issues are huge this year."

I agree that economic issues are huge, but if they are so huge, why didn't Edwards win the nomination?

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on June 6, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

But he sucked in 2004 and there's no reason why he would be any better now.

Posted by: R on June 6, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

After reading enough of the vitriolic comments by Clinton supporters, I'm convinced she managed to coalesce bitter women who have been marginalized for one reason or another, and white voters who feel they need to legitimize their latent bigotry.

Marginalized, you say. You mean to say that people have been dismissive of Clinton supporters? For "one reason or another"? Which people? People like you, in this comment, perhaps? The irony, it burns.

I am proud to have been a supporter of Hillary Clinton, and I congratulate Barack Obama on his win. I am not a bitter woman, I'm not even a woman. I had a modest preference for Hillary, which I ran with.

Try to show a little grace in winning.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on June 6, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how much of Edwards' poll numbers are due to simple name recognition? He probably has 95% name recognition, whereas other potential VP candidates like Sebelius, Warner, Webb, Hagel, etc. probably have less than 50% name recognition.

Posted by: mfw13 on June 6, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Edwards is the media. He was ignored in favor of the "story" of the first black candidate and the first woman candidate, so the only real progressive in the fight was marginalized. Hence, he became a loser again, hence the media will label him as such for the public.
Cabinet level post.

Posted by: Timewalker on June 6, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'd rather see Edwards as AG

Posted by: on June 6, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

fear and loathing and others saying that Edwards "flubbed" the debate seem to have missed this passage:

CBS poll of uncommitted voters -- the people you're trying to win over in a debate -- called it for Edwards 41-28. A before and after poll of the same voters also had him moving 1 percent of the vote from Bush to Kerry. And he's only gotten better with practice.

Also, Socratic points out Edwards refusal to be hatchet man, but according to the evidence presented above, this was at the request of the Kerry campaign. This tells me that Edwards has already proven he can stay on message with the President. This is arguably one of the most important tasks the VP faces during the campaign. Some of the other top choices being floated (Webb in particular) could very well go rogue. Obama has run a very disciplined campaign so far, and it seems that Edwards can respect and work within that framework.

Posted by: drjimcooper on June 6, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that economic issues are huge, but if they are so huge, why didn't Edwards win the nomination?

He was up against two historic candidacies.

I wonder how much of Edwards' poll numbers are due to simple name recognition? He probably has 95% name recognition, whereas other potential VP candidates like Sebelius, Warner, Webb, Hagel, etc. probably have less than 50% name recognition.

Then how do you explain him outperforming Ed Rendell in his own (and my) state? The polling numbers I've seen don't make sense in my gut. And Edwards may not be the best choice for many reasons, but the evidence we do have about his helpfullness as the VP on this particular ticket is strong so far.

Posted by: drjimcooper on June 6, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Edwards again?" That's not change - much as I like and respect John Edwards. His brand as a VP candidate is damaged, and we don't need the baggage. These early polls saying otherwise are as precise and meaningful as the ones that said Hillary was going to waltz to the nomination.

Attorney General John Edwards, OTOH, is going to be amazing for the country; the best since RFK.

Posted by: Cazart on June 6, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards is a pitiful campaigner. He's spent half his adult life running for president without persuading anyone to vote for him. He looked like an idiot in the VP debate vs Cheney. His remark about Cheney's daughter fell as flat as his moronic insult about Clinton's fake tears, which probably cost Obama NH. Some people like his passionate speaking style; but as many think he sounds like a snake-oil salesman. Terrible choice in my opinion.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on June 6, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

But he sucked in 2004 and there's no reason why he would be any better now

We can use the past as a guide, but his performance in '04 can no more tell us how he will help or hurt the ticket in '08 as saying that Clinton won all the big swing states in the Dem primary, thus, Obama is doomed in the general in those states. Likewise arguments that he has run and not won before (including this year) provide no data to base a conclusion on.

We are talking about whether he adds anything to the ticket this year. We can take early polling with a grain of salt, but it is really the only evidence we have at this stage, and for what it's worth, the polling evidence suggests that Edwards helps Obama more than other possible picks. As I said before, it doesn't make sense in my gut why Edwards helps Obama more in PA than our popular governor. But I'm not prepared to go simply with gut on this one.

Posted by: drjimcooper on June 6, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

is there any reason Edwards could not be *both* VP and Attorney General?

Posted by: on June 6, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

on wrote: "is there any reason Edwards could not be *both* VP and Attorney General?"

For one thing, Edwards has just said that he does not want to and will not run for VP. So this entire thread is moot.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 6, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

NO! NO! NO! to the commentor above who suggests Mark Warner as the VP choice. Warner is running for the US Senate and we, the people of Virginia, need him there! At this point, he's a shoe-in against Jim Gilmore.

I guess that would make Tim Kaine a likely candidate for the Senate, but if Kaine runs and wins, his lieutenant governor, Republican Bill Bolling, will take the governship, because the Virginia gubernatorial election doesn't take place until 2009. Believe me, Virginia can't take a year of Republican leadership in the governor's chair. Republicans hold the House of Delegates, and Democrats barely eeked out a majority in the state Senate last fall. We have some real Republican wack-jobs in the General Assembly, including Bob Marshall, who just lost his bid for the Republican candidacy for the US Senate to Jim Gilmore by only 65 votes.

We have a couple of good Democratic candidates for governor, Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds. Let's give them a chance to succeed Kaine, rather than having to fight a Republican incumbancy.

Posted by: pol on June 6, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I was a bit surprised to see how much Edwards would help Obama, based on these polls. It would certainly be a ticket I could be proud to support, but I understand that Edwards has pretty flatly said no.

In Obama's "secret" meeting yesterday with Clinton, I'm sure the issue of VP came up . . . but Obama said that he would rather stay at the top of the ticket. (And with any luck, his VP choice won't be someone who is likely to be undermining him at every turn, is saddled with politcal baggage, or has a husband who cannot stand being out of the spotlight for two minutes.)

Posted by: Outis on June 6, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Prismatic, my Friday SCATblogging is up; – test your outdoor knowledge 22-point scat questionnaire.

Second scatblog coming soon enough.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on June 6, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

My advice to Sen. Obama would be not to choose anyone from Texas for VP and never, ever go there as president.

Posted by: Brojo on June 6, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a little surprised no one has talked about the issue of name recognition. Clinton was the frontrunner so early and for so long, not only because of her political machine, but because everyone in the world knows who she is. We who follow politics on a daily basis tend to forget that Obama was nobody, NOBODY, a year ago. He may not even really have become a universally known house-hold name until Wednsday, if then. His viral messaging and networking campaign is all the more brilliant for it, but there is no doubt that on primary day there were lo-info voters who looked at the ballot and said, "Barak who?"

I think this is a big reason Edwards polls so well as his running mate, and if Obama thinks he can get along with he guy, this is a very good reason to tip the scale to choosing Edwards - but he's not the only one who can bring the star power of name recognition. There is Hillary herself, of course, but there is another...

Posted by: Chasm on June 6, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK
For one thing, Edwards has just said that he does not want to and will not run for VP. So this entire thread is moot.

And, in 1992, Al Gore said he did not want to and would not run in a national campaign.

People, in politics, publicly say they don't want and will not do things not because they will not do them, but because they think that saying that they are open to them might hurt there chances of getting something they want more (in Edwards case, he seems, from reports in his camp, to want to be Attorney-General). Or because they don't think they'll succeed with them anyway (Al Gore in 1992, who talked about the family effects of a national campaign, but really just either didn't think he could win the Presidential nomination, or that the Democrats wouldn't be strong against Bush [a common feeling before the primaries started].) Or because they want whoever would be offering the thing they are preemptively refusing to sweeten the deal to overcome their visible reluctance.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

You are such a privileged male.
There are so many many women who are so pissed off about how this primary season has "handled" our candidate. You have no idea.
Watch8 the surge crack the DNC. It's about time.

Posted by: humanrace on June 6, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

There's a difference between running for President and getting the VP slot a second time. Edwards could justify staying in the Presidential race even though his wife was ill: this is an important election and the country needed to get it right. Once he fell behind he suspended his candidacy pretty quickly.

As President he could shape a new deal for the 21st century, he could right a country that was desperate for competent leadership. As VP he gets a pitcher of warm spit and free travel to head of state funerals. It seems that there are more substantive and rewarding ways to serve. I just don't see what would inspire Edwards to take the slot.

Posted by: rk on June 6, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Again, Edwards has never shown talent as an attack dog. If he had won the nomination, as I wanted, I'd be arguing right now against Obama for VP for the same reason. Maybe Kerry told him not to attack too hard. But he has had two campaigns for President, and I don't ever remember a moment when he successfully called his opponents on much. You need a hatchet man or woman. And whatever his virtues (and I think they are many), Edward has zero record to show he fill that role.

Posted by: Gar Lipow on June 6, 2008 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK
I just don't see what would inspire Edwards to take the slot.

An offer a substantive policy role and a powerful role in cabinet selection.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2008 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think we all know that Hillary is not going to end up as the VP. In fact some companies like BuildASign.com are taking advantage of the Obama nomination press coverage. They are giving away free signs to anyone who recycles their old Hillary sign: http://www.buildasign.com/p/Obama-Step2-Option1

Posted by: Politicalbx on June 6, 2008 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

In my opinion, there is no chance whatsoever that John Edwards will be chosen as Obama's VP. David Axelrod, now running Obama's campaign (brilliantly so far), worked on John Edward's presidential campaign in 2004 and apparently did not end up pleased with the performance of the candidate.
I'm a Hillary Clinton supporter who will be voting for Barack Obama in the fall. I don't particularly want her to be chosen as VP, because the strength she might bring to the ticket (see Mark Schmitt's recent article "Did Hillary break the working-class code" in TAP online) will be compromised by unending criticism from the pundits. The choice of any other woman for VP will be an insult, since not one (Democratic) woman currently active in national or state politics has anywhere near Mrs. Clinton's experience, knowledge, ability to think on her feet, commitment to progressive ideas, etc.
I hope Jim Webb is chosen. His sharp edges would be an interesting contrast to Obama's calm temperament in the campaign, and his areas of expertise, and the voting groups he might appeal to, would complement Obama's as well. (He is also married to a Vietnamese-American, which would contribute to the historic diversity of the ticket.)

Posted by: Mary on June 6, 2008 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

I think Edwards would be a good pick, but point #1: "who knows how to focus media attention into places where it needs to be (see: poverty and health care)" -- he didn't seem so great at focusing, or even capturing, the media's attention in the primary. Point #8 works in favor of anyone who doesn't have the initials HRC, point #7 works for anyone who has opposed the war, and even better for someone who actually opposed the war before 2004. Point #4 seems politically crass.

Points #6 and #2 seem to be essentially the same phenomenon, and despite the polls I have seen very little evidence of the universality of national love for John Edwards, much as I like him. It didn't seem to show up in force in 2004, and it didn't seem to show up in force in the 2008 primary. For some reason, John Edwards is remarkably popular against people he's not actually running against.

Back in the late night talk show wars, someone at Fox noticed an interesting phenomenon...despite having a string of mostly flops for mostly a decade, Chevy Chase had an amazingly high Q-score. They quickly signed him up, and The Chevy Chase Show was born. And died. A month later. Nobody watched.

So, let's just keep this in perspective.

Posted by: Royko on June 7, 2008 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

Neil makes a very strong argument for an Obama/Edwards ticket.

What's really interesting is if you look at the crosstabs of the Survey USA polls, Edwards helps Obama with white voters. I think, sad to say, the Rev. Wright fiasco has hurt Obama with some white voters and that he needs someone like Edwards (or maybe Clinton) to help bring white voters back into the Democratic fold. I don't think we can compare this year to 2004, because John Kerry did not have a Rev. Wright problem -- so he did not need help with uneasy working class white voters. Also, Kerry perhaps should have gone with a Cuban-American or a Jewish-American to try win Florida (a real swing state unlike North Carolina) instead of another white guy.

But we can't pretend that race is not a factor in the contest. And Obama can't just pick any old white person -- he needs someone who is popular with white voters, someone who is familiar to them. I think either Clinton or Edwards could help but Clinton might inspire all those Republicans who hate her to come out just so they can vote against her. Edwards is probably a safer bet to bring in those white voters who are little nervous about Obama.

Posted by: Obama Rox on June 7, 2008 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

If you agree with what Neil writes, you should sign up to send a loud and clear message to Obama to choose John Edwards -- go here:



Posted by: Eric Lee on June 7, 2008 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Pastor Brenda Lofton on June 7, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards added 0 (zero) voters to Kerry's ticket. He's dead weight.

Plus Edwards detracts from seriousness about foreign policy. Kerry was able to make up for that by being a war hero, but Obama-Edwards looks like college student council ticket.

We need as close to Zinni or Eisenhower as we can get.

Posted by: Owen on June 7, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

In light of this post's graphics demonstrating Edwards' overwhelming OKness, I've developed some some of my own showing his VP history.

Here's a bar chart showing how many votes he attracted for Kerry in 2004:


Here's a pie chart:


Here it is again as a regular number:


Posted by: Owen on June 8, 2008 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

Because if Rezko talks, BHO is going to need a lawyer.

Posted by: Df on June 8, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Because if Rezko talks, BHO is going to need a lawyer.

Posted by: Df on June 8, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

But his performance as the VP candidate in 2004 is still fresh in my mind. He was awful.

In what way was he awful?

He was mostly used in Ohio, mostly in outer suburban and rural counties were he would not get any wider attention to avoid outshining the top of the ticket, and that is exactly where Kerry/Edwards outperformed Gore/Lieberman in 2004. If Kerry/Edwards did as well in the counties where Kerry also campaigned as they did in the counties where only Edwards campaigned, Kerry would be running for re-election today.

Posted by: BruceMcF on June 9, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

JMHO but I think "appalachian whites" will go for the candidate who is the least elitist.

... which is why they loved Bobby Kennedy so much.

It seems likely that the Appalachian voters that Edwards could touch might be more focused on economic issues and less focused on identity issues, but that's still a substantial group.

And people who argue that Edwards did not help the Kerry/Edwards ticket in 2004 have not dug into the question. Without Edwards campaigning in Ohio, out of the national spotlight in the rural and outer suburban areas that the oligopress prefers to ignore, Blackwell would not have had to steal the election. Nominating a windbag silver spoon New England liberal was not the smartest thing in the world for carrying Ohio, but thanks to Edwards hard work the Democrats were within reach of pulling it off.

Southeast Ohio is probably the most electorally significant part of Appalachia, and with an honest Secretary of State this time and a recession in full swing, Obama/Edwards would be a cinch to narrow the Republican margin out of Southeast Ohio enough to carry Ohio.

Posted by: BruceMcF on June 9, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK



Please disregard everything above this.

The John Edward's Campaign

Posted by: Fen on August 9, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

AHmUqv comment2 ,

Posted by: Srfxjfko on June 27, 2009 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK



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