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February 17, 2006

Edwards, Civil Liberties, and Abortion

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

Lindsay Beyerstein has explained why she likes Russ Feingold for 2008.  Two of the major reasons she's put forward are his support for civil liberties and his liberal views on social issues.  As one of the foremost Edwards supporters in the blogosphere, it falls to me to respond by describing the virtues of John Edwards on these two topics. 

People are often surprised to learn about Edwards' opposition to the flag burning amendment. When the Constitutional Amendment to ban flag desecration reached the Judiciary Committee, Edwards was the only red-state Senator to vote against it.  He was one of only two Senators from the old Confederacy to vote against it on the Senate floor in 2000.  (The other one, Chuck Robb, was defeated that year, and George Allen used the flag vote to argue that Robb had lost touch with the citizens of Virginia.)  Since the passage of the Patriot Act, Edwards has consistently argued for repealing or not renewing the most troubling provisions (many of the provisions were scheduled to 'sunset', or expire, in 2005). 

Now, nobody's going to beat Feingold for the Civil Liberties championship.  He was, after all, the only guy to vote against the Patriot Act the first time up, and he's been filibustering to block renewal.  But I'd submit that this isn't as massive a political risk as Edwards took in voting against the flag desecration amendment as a Senator from North Carolina.

On abortion, there's nobody who can beat John Edwards and his 100% NARAL rating.  While he wasn't actually a Senator for either of the Supreme Court nominations, his One America Committee opposed the Roberts nomination, and he was running a petition drive against Alito.  He's got the same civil unions position that all the Democratic presidential contenders do. 

Here's the kicker: Despite very progressive views on these and other issues, Independents and Republicans  like John Edwards.  The most recent poll to ask this question has him at a 48% favorability rating among Republicans and 68% among Independents -- more than any other Democrat polled.  What you want in a Democratic nominee is a genuine progressive who somehow has appeal to everybody, even those who disagree with his progressive views.  Somehow, John Edwards can do that. 

February 17, 2006 in Election 2008 | Permalink


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So the real question then: Feingold/Edwards or Edwards/Feingold in 2008?

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft | Feb 17, 2006 4:51:23 PM

Man, I was going to add "More evidence to support Edwards/Whoever '08" on my Katrina post.

Did you see in his last speech that Edwards supports full public financing of House elections?

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Feb 17, 2006 4:53:17 PM

Wow! I didn't see that, Nick... awesome!

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Feb 17, 2006 4:55:06 PM

Very glad to hear about the 100% from NARAL. More and more I'm thinking you might be correct about Edwards.

(Incidentally, Feingold's NARAL score is 75%, I think b/c he voted for Roberts.)

Posted by: Dadahead | Feb 17, 2006 5:08:22 PM

Where was he on Padilla?

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 17, 2006 5:15:46 PM

All I can add is that having seen Edwards speak in person a few times, he can work up a room like a rock star.

Posted by: sprocket | Feb 17, 2006 5:16:45 PM

It is very important that the 2008 candidate be able to stand for abortion rights. Having to thread the needle of why he/she is personally horrified by abortion yet still supports some form of abortion rights is just a nonstarter. Kerry did that as well as it could be done and it just did not work.

The important point is that the other side can't be permitted to criticize abortion rights without having someone there to point out that what the other side really wants is to get rid of all legal abortion in every case no matter what the circumstances.

Posted by: alkali | Feb 17, 2006 5:19:35 PM

The Speech

But most of them will need a legislative mandate to make sure they do the right thing. The starting point is comprehensive campaign finance reform, not tinkering at the edges--comprehensive campaign finance reform. I have said before that I support public financing of campaigns. As long as politicians are trapped in a desperate money chase, as long as they must spend huge amounts of time and resources to raise the money to run for reelection, we will continue to see wealthy interests trying to buy their way into favor. We need to change the way business is done there, and we need to do it immediately if we want to get out government back.

By the way, This Guy is driving the bandwagon.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Feb 17, 2006 5:22:34 PM

It is very important that the 2008 candidate be able to stand for abortion rights.

Answer A: The president doesn't set abortion policy. Answer B: So who's your candidate?

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft | Feb 17, 2006 5:35:31 PM

The president doesn't set abortion policy.

No one entity 'sets' abortion policy, but the president can certainly be a large factor in it. E.g., Clinton's veto of the PBA ban.

And don't forget Supreme Court nominations.

Posted by: Dadahead | Feb 17, 2006 6:06:56 PM

And don't forget Supreme Court nominations.

With any luck, Bush may yet get the opportunity to nominate another Supreme Court Justice. The party may just now be getting started........

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 17, 2006 6:27:12 PM

Public finacing of elections was a huge part of Edwards' primary campaign (it disappeared once Kerry picked him for Veep).

Thank you for writing this and including useful links.

Posted by: coturnix | Feb 17, 2006 10:56:21 PM

Edwards is smart, and his heart is in the right place. Oh, and Fred, why don't you tell me where the party's at? As a woman whose rights seem to be the dance floor for your little party, I'd love to know.

Posted by: nolo | Feb 18, 2006 12:20:17 AM

You're welcome, coturnix... good to see you over at Lindsay's site. We'll have an Edwards co-blogger on every big lefty site yet!

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Feb 18, 2006 12:29:07 AM

Fred, why don't you tell me where the party's at?

It's in your mouth, nolo......everybody's coming......

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 18, 2006 11:36:21 AM

nolo, I apologize for the presence of Fred in this comment thread.

Fred, this kind of disgusting behavior has no place here.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Feb 18, 2006 11:59:41 AM

Somebody with admin rights ban Fred the perverted idiot.

That was over the line, fucker. Does it make you feel like a "man" to make comments like that from the safety of your computer? You pathetic little shit. I've stepped on things that have contributed more to this world that you ever have or ever will.

How about we arrange a meeting? Let's see if all your bravado on the internet can be backed up by your pathetic self in the real world. Or would you rather just continue to harass people with your stupid "ideas" and your vaguely threatening sexual comments?

Piece of shit. Do the world a favor and stop looking both ways when you cross the street, asshole.

Posted by: Stephen | Feb 18, 2006 12:02:52 PM

Fred, this kind of disgusting behavior has no place here.

Let me get this straight, Neil. You are silent when *I* am called names (Nazi, stalinist, piece of shit, etc.) , but when nolo picks a fight and slanders me, you are surprised and outraged that I fight back when attacked? That about it?

Let me take this opportunity to apologize to nolo. Just having a little fun with the trollette. However Neil and his minion can shove it.

Fair enough?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 18, 2006 2:29:21 PM

Won't work, Fred. your comment had absolutely nothing to do with the topics at hand. It involved a disgusting sexual reference towards somebody who was asking a legitimate question, and offered nothing useful in response. "Nazi" is at least a political term, and relevant in some political discussions -- same for Stalinist. And everything Stephen said is in bounds once you broke the rules.

When I comment on a right-wing blog -- I've probably logged a few hundred comments on RedState and others -- I'm polite to the people there and I stay strictly on topic. I've never got a single threat of deletion or banning, and people at Redstate are pretty quick to break out the banning stick.

You behave yourself, or I'm going to be deleting your comments left and right. You can find another blog to troll on, or start your own -- you don't belong here.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Feb 18, 2006 2:40:28 PM

Hey Fred, this is the internet. If your gonna act like an asshole, people are going to call you an asshole.

You constantly call people idiots, stupid, morons and worse. To then complain that someone called you a name, while expected from whiny babies like you, is laughable. But it's when you step over the line and make extremelly offensive statements about homosexuals, or all liberals, or everyone here, or all Arabs, all Muslims, etc. that we tend to get really mad. Or when you make a "joke" that involves sexual assault. So me calling you a piece of shit (you are) or a stupid motherfucker (which you are) or a worthless waste of this planet's resources (oh, look, right again!) is hardly cause for you to complain.

Just to point out, again, that these idiot trolls don't even know what they are replying to, there is no place where nolo attacked or insulted Fred. She asked a sharp, yet rhetorical, question. Fred, of course, had to make up something and then had to call nolo a "trollete," since facile attacks based upon gender is just about the only thing he has.

Posted by: Stephen | Feb 18, 2006 2:52:29 PM

Again, let me say that I'm furious not because it was a sexual reference, but an obvious reference to sexual assault. And this isn't the first time; just the first time he's directed such a comment toward a person directly. He has fantasized in the past about homosexuals being assaulted. Since I have seen the devastation that is caused by sexual assault, I am sick of idiots throwing it around as a joke. It is not. It is just about the most reprehensible thing that can be done to a person, and to joke about it shows a lack of basic human decency.

Insofar as my coarse language is disturbing to members of this community, I apologize. But I will not do any such thing for Fred, since a)he deserves it, and b) he has consistently shown that he is not part of this community.

Posted by: Stephen | Feb 18, 2006 3:01:24 PM

"Nazi" is at least a political term......

You are so full of bullshit *AND* you are dishonest. The only use of these terms here is to personally insult. No one believes that anyone else is truly a member of the Nazi party.
Fuck you and your faux shock and your threats, and most of all......your dishonesty and double standard. This is why you have no traffic on your own blog.

Grow up

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 18, 2006 3:03:58 PM

No one believes that anyone else is truly a member of the Nazi party.

Again with the Word Games. No one, when using the term "nazi," is suggesting that someone has officially registered with a "Nazi Party." What they are saying is that they see characteristics between the Nazis and the person to whom they are applying the label. Personally, I don't do it, and don't really think that the label applies - especially not to Bushco. They aren't ideologues, they are profiteers. Even the neocons don't rate the Nazi comparison, IMO. If it suddenly became politically and financially expedient to label all white males surnamed "Johnson" as enemy combatants in the War on Terror, the Bush administration would do it in a heartbeat.

Grow up

Hee hee. That's pretty funny how you are once again expecting more from others than you do from yourself.

Posted by: Stephen | Feb 18, 2006 4:19:03 PM

"He's got the same civil unions position that all the Democratic presidential contenders do."

It's a shame our party won't stand up for something more for GLBT Americans. The civil unions position is just like the unfortunate compromise that seems to be in vogue with the Third Way dems w/r/t abortion -- "I think abortion is a disgusting and immoral abomination that must nevertheless be kept legal because civil liberties are so important that even murder is not enough to justify abridging them."

Granting the wingers their central premise - that "marriage is between a man and a woman" - is stupid, and worse, it's dishonest. I think Edwards is just lying when he says that shit, and it sucks that he can depend on us lefties to realize he's lying and vote for him anyway, while at the same time hoping he can dupe people who fear homosexuals. It's just not healthy to have the entire Democratic Party lying through it's teeth about how it feels w/r/t homosexual marriage in deference to an irrational prejudice that will be eradicated in a generation, anyway.

Posted by: YMSP82 | Feb 20, 2006 8:52:00 AM

Jude has a nice round-up on Edwards, too.

Posted by: coturnix | Feb 20, 2006 9:19:01 AM

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