Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Not Edwards?

The blogosphere back-and-forth on Edwards vs. Obama has spurred me to whittle down to the core reason I think Edwards would be a poor choice.

For me, the critical issue is that Edwards made the wrong call on the most important vote of his life, and he continued to get it wrong for much longer.

It was clear to me that the case for war was complete bullshit. So clear, in fact, that it drove me a bit crazy that the country went along it with it anyway. I argued about the war with far-flung friends, blogged endlessly, marched at countless rallies, was arrested twice protesting the war--the first time early on the morning of March 18, 2003--and put my career on hold to work for Howard Dean, the one major candidate opposed to the war.

Meanwhile, in the run-up to the war, Edwards was sponsoring the Iraq war resolution. He continued to be a strident supporter of the war for another year and a half, through the 2004 primaries and his vice-presidential candidacy. During the primaries, he attacked Dean viciously for his stance against the war.

Edwards now says that he was wrong to be a primary booster of the Iraq war in 2002 and wrong to continue to avidly support the war during his presidential and vice-presidential campaigns 2003-2004. I am happy he finally saw the light. For me the key question remains the one Tim Russert asked him in an interview last February:

MR. RUSSERT: But why shouldn’t voters in Democratic primaries say, ‘On the big issue of the war, Obama was right, Edwards was wrong’?
Here was his response:
SEN. EDWARDS: I was wrong. They should say that. And the question becomes, ‘Who’s best suited to be president of the United States? Who has the depth,the maturity, the judgment to be president of the United States?’ And what I would say to anybody is I take full responsibility for what I did, I should be held accountable for that, but I do think it matters when you’re willing to be open and honest with voters about what you’ve done. I think it’s really important that the next president of the United States—and I’m not criticizing anybody, certainly not Senator Obama. But I think it’s really important that the next president of the United Sates be a good, decent, honorable human being who’s open and honest with the country because that is the only way we’re going to re-establish trust between the American people and the president. And I also think it’s going to be really important to re-establishing trust between America and the world, because the president is, in effect, the personification of America. And when the president, what I believe—one of the things I do believe the president needs to do is, in the first 100 days, travel the world, not just meet with leaders, but speak to the people of the world the way great American presidents have in the past. The famous John Kennedy “ I am a Berliner” speech is an example. And for that to work and for us to spread a message that America doesn’t tolerate diversity, we embrace diversity, different cultures, different faith beliefs—it’s the heart of who we are—that spokesperson is going to have to be somebody that the rest of the world looks up to and respects.
For me, that doesn't cut it. I think there is no way Edwards could have answered this question to my satisfaction. If he made such a spectacular mistake in supporting the war--for more than two years!--why should I trust now that he would have better judgment as president?

No comments: