What’s the matter with John Edwards?
John Edwards’s lack of progress is puzzling, especially given the increasing economic difficulty the country is experiencing. You’d think that the problematic economy — coupled with the high profile he has attained by a previous national run — would leave him in a stronger position.
I think it boils down to — and this is going to seem quite the cliché — that he’s just not sufficiently presidential. In the US system, we’re not just choosing the government’s CEO, we’re choosing a head of state. In a parliamentary system, were Edwards the leader of the opposition, he’d have a shadow cabinet minister dealing with economic affairs who could hammer away at the middle class anxiety issue. But Edwards has to make that case himself in the US style of politics. And his incessant, almost shrill focus on how much the economy sucks for ordinary folk — while music to my Denmark-lovin’ redistributionist ears, frankly brings him down in the eyes of a lot of voters. He sounds like he’s running for Consumer Advocate in Chief, or Povery Ameliorator in Chief. But John Edwards is running for leader of the free world.
Not that I don’t think that this election will probably be decided — as most ultimately are — on the economy (stupid), but you can make the economic case along with talking about other issues, especially after you get the nomination. To talk about how tough the middle class has it incessantly, almost 24/7 non-stop, hasn’t proven to be a winning formula. Even Americans who need a lot of help don’t want to think they’re voting for someone merely because that candidate is going to give them some rich person’s money. They want to be inspired. Edwards, I’m (truly) sorry to say, mostly hasn’t been inspiring.
It’s not over for him yet, but John Edwards doesn’t have much time to right his ship.