Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Little White Houses for You and Me
I saw an Edwards commercial on TV this morning, which played mostly on the son-of-a-millworker theme, showing the candidate in front of, I think, the house he was born in. (A pink house, which makes me wonder why he's using a different John Mellencamp song, "Small Town," as his theme music. Maybe because Mellencamp's "Pink Houses" contains the lines, "Cuz they told me, when I was younger/'Boy, you're gonna be president'/But just like everything else, those old crazy dreams/Just kinda came and went".) But according to the New York Times, Edwards is also going to run ads here touting his opposition to NAFTA. In a state that's lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs since Bush came into office, many to overseas factories, NAFTA opposition resonates with Democratic voters here, and since John Kerry voted for it, Edwards should be able to make some hay. Except HIS COMMERCIALS TOUTING HIS OPPOSITION TO NAFTA DON'T MENTION THAT KERRY SUPPORTED IT.

Excuse my outburst. It's just that this is not just weird, it's also disturbing. Weird because it fails to take advantage of a significant vulnerability in Kerry's record that only Edwards is positioned to take advantage of. Weird, because nothing closes the gap like negative campaigning--and going negative in this instance would be perfectly appropriate, more in the realm of comparison, and certainly not negative in the "Why does my opponent refuse to oppose the sexual molestation of animals?" manner. And it's disturbing because in a campaign season where the majority of Democratic voters say they're angry with Bush, Edwards' refusal to go anywhere near that anger seems prissy--and would be suicidal in the fall campaign.

Edwards' refusal to take on Kerry directly makes it clear, to me at least, that he expects to be offered the VP slot with Kerry and wants to take it, but not until he's sure he won't win the big prize.

Recommended reading: A story from the Washington Times with a photo you're going to see a million times between now and November 2, in close proximity to the words "Paid for by Bush-Whomever 2004." I say "whomever" because, as The Guardian's Julian Borger reports, the pressure in the Valerie Plame case is starting to fall squarely on Dick Cheney. As I've noted before, I have my doubts about whether Bush would willingly throw Cheney over the side, if only because elevating some other Republican to the number-two slot would make him the front-runner for 2008 and queer Jeb's chances, which is why you can discount the Bush/Giuliani stories you've heard in the past few weeks. (Although that would make a damn nice bit of synergy with the Repug convention being held in NYC around September 11.)

Here's my contribution to the rumor mill--if Cheney is deep enough in scandal that he can't be hosed off enough to run, former Secretary of State/Bush family fixer James Baker replaces him. Although he's older than dirt, he would provide the same type of adult supervision to Bush that Cheney does, and he's no threat to run on his own.

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