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December 28, 2006

Where I Be

By Ezra

It's 6:10 in the morning in New Orleans and I'd really rather not be awake. In the last four days, I've switched time zones twice, and my body would rather I hadn't. But I'm going to be doing it twice more in the next 36 hours, so it'd better adjust. About 40 minutes ago, I rolled out of bed, put my tape recorder and notebook in a backpack, and stumbled down to the lobby. About 36 minutes from now, I'll board a press bus that'll take me to the upper 9th Ward, where John Edwards will stand before a ruined home in a near-drowned city and announce his campaign for president.

As of now, though, there's precious little to report. The Edwards staffers seem relaxed and upbeat, despite Ford's death somewhat trampling their news cycle and a web site muck up previewing their announcement. They're quite excited about a YouTube video the campaign created where Edwards articulates his agenda and invites viewers to get involved. They spent Tuesday working at a food bank and Wednesday doing reconstruction. The direct action motif looks to be laced through the campaign -- "there's a lot of good we can do between now and election day," I keep hearing people say.

Besides that, the news from New Orleans remains sparse. John Edwards will run for president, as you already guessed. The questions about his strategy are the same as they ever were: Is he running a campaign of moral witness or for president? Will a laser-like focus on the poor undermine support from other classes, all of which are worried about their slice of the pie? Does concentrating on the forgotten America alienate either or both of the Two Americas? Being here has offered anecdotes, but not answers. With the first primary a bit over a year away, that's probably all it can offer.

In any case, I'll have more to say after his speech this morning. I'll be heading to his post-announcement townhall in Iowa later this afternoon, which should be useful as well. I should say that my presence here is not, in any way, an endorsement of Edwards, nor have I decided (or even come near deciding) to support him. I like his current focus on social policy, but we'll have to see how the campaign shakes out. As time goes on, I'll be reporting with the other candidates as well.

Anyway, the bus is leaving, so I'll hit post and run. More later, hopefully.

December 28, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

I hear his website screwed up. And then Ford goes and dies right before the big announcement.
doesn't sound like skippy is having much luck.
Or is it that someone is trying to tell him something....

Posted by: vwcat | Dec 28, 2006 8:18:21 AM

If he had true Joementum, he'd have blamed the website problem on hackers from the Obama campaign.

Posted by: KCinDC | Dec 28, 2006 8:31:08 AM

Hey, cool, Ezra doing some actual reporting. Does you know how? Kidding: I'll look forward to your reports.

As for Edwards, I'd like to talk about his position on Iraq, because very few people in the sphere are, and if they are, they're criticizing his vote for the IWR without mentioning that he is the only major presidential contender (apologies to Dennis Kucinich) advocating immediate withdrawal. Obama, for one, says we should begin withdrawal in 4 to 6 months. Why wait? Isn't it to fair to ask how many Americans and Iraqis will die in those 4 to 6 months? How much more money we will spend? Isn't Obama's position a varation of One More Shot?

Over at MyDD, Matt Stoller criticizes Edwards for failing to find his voice on Iraq. But what is Gore's position on Iraq today? Clark's? Clinton's? Richardson's? Richardson, we know, opposes the "surge"? Good for him. But when should we begin to leave? He doesn't say. Of all the major contenders, Edwards is the only one (correct me if I'm wrong) who has a clear position.

If Edwards isn't getting props for his newly honed antiwar position, he deserves some of the blame--he should be highlighting it--but so do the media, including liberals blogs, which could, if they so chose, write pieces saying, "Edwards call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq." Maybe it's too much to expect the MSM to do this--they seem incapable of perpetuating more than a single image of a pol and to them, Edwards is an economic populist--but surely a pol can have more than one issue and surely blogs could be praising and promoting his position in Iraq.

There's a circular game going on here. MyDD and the Huffington Post et al could (with Edwards's help) be portraying him as new leader of the Bring-the-Home-Now brigade, and such coverage could influence the MSM's portrayal. Instead, they choose not to give his strong antiwar position publicity, then criticize him for failing to "find his voice."

Posted by: david mizner | Dec 28, 2006 10:19:07 AM

So, like wha' if the news was reporting tomorrows news today. Y'know, like, if there was a' plane crash, would'nt da people want to know dat like a day in advance. Fo' real.

Posted by: Adrock | Dec 28, 2006 10:33:43 AM

"Hey, cool, Ezra doing some actual reporting. [Do] you know how?"

Honestly? No clue.

Posted by: Ezra | Dec 28, 2006 10:45:49 AM

Stoller's saying Edwards "hasn't found his voice" on Iraq? It seems to me that he explained his position reasonably at length at his National Press Club speech in June. Ezra was in the audience taking notes for it. There's also video and audio recordings of it in the public domain, so Stoller will have a harder time denying it ever happened and calling anyone who says otherwise a liar.

Question: How should the Democrats answer the Republicans’ charge that they want to “cut and run” on Iraq? And if you were still in the Senate, would you have voted for Senator Kerry’s resolution to set a date certain to bring the troops home from Iraq?

Edwards: Well, here’s what – here’s what – like George Bush’s policy has been so incredibly effective. He is – he has created this mess. He and Dick Cheney have created this mess along with Rumsfeld and others, and the best I can tell, they’ve never accepted any responsibility for it. You pointed out earlier me talking about my vote, and I do believe my vote was a mistake. But I think all – anybody in public life has to take the responsibility for the good and the bad, you know? In some cases, you deserve credit when things work out the way they should. In some cases, you don’t. Well, George Bush and Dick Cheney have created an extraordinary mess in Iraq, and it’s an amazing thing to watch to watch the President, who, when anything happens – we have young men and women dying in Iraq and their families have suffered. We have many, many families who have loved ones over there right now. You know, we talk about – people in Washington talk about it like it’s some abstract thing. These are real people’s lives. These kids who are dying – that’s the first thing we ought to be thinking about. And they believe. They believe in serving their country. They do. They didn’t make the decision to go to Iraq, they didn’t decide how many troops to put on the ground in Iraq, they didn’t decide whether – how much work we’d put into putting together an international coalition instead of doing by themselves. George Bush did that, and I’ve never heard this president accept one bit of responsibility for what he’s done. None. So, the idea that George Bush or the Republicans would accuse me or anybody else of anything is comical to begin with.

Here’s what I say. [Applause.] What I say is, we’re in a mess, and, in fact, if you look at the piece that was done in the Washington Post a couple weeks ago by the Iraqi National Security Advisor, it’s very similar, actually, to what I’m saying. Our presence there as an occupying force is fueling the insurgency. It’s not making things better. It also makes it extraordinarily difficult for other countries in that region of the world, other Arab countries, to engage in a way that’s productive, and to help, because they don’t want to help us. You know, they might be willing to help Iraq, but they don’t want to help America, they don’t want to help the coalition forces.

So, what do we do? If you believe – and I do – if you believe that the right thing to do – instead of worrying about what the Republicans are saying, how about we just do the right thing? And I think the right thing to do is, we need to reduce our presence there. I would do it by 40,000 troops, something in that neighborhood. I think we need to continue that process, because the way to show you’re leaving is to actually leave.

And then, I believe that in the next 12-18 months, American combat troops ought to be out of Iraq. [Applause.] It’s something that ought to be done – it ought to be done in conjunction with our military leaders so that it’s done in the most thoughtful, most effective way. You know, out of the 18 provinces, four of them are secure now, by everybody’s measure. There are another nine or so that are on the precipice of being secure. So, there are clearly regions of the country where we could reduce our presence.

At the end of the day, the Iraqis are gonna have to decide whether they’re gonna have a representative government, whether they’re gonna be successful, whether they’re gonna keep their country safe. We can’t do this for them forever. We just can’t. So, I think what I’m actually proposing is a sane and responsible way to deal with a very difficult situation right now.
--National Press Club, June 22, 2006

Posted by: Chris | Dec 28, 2006 2:54:00 PM

I disagree with his policy, don't think it's responsible, but I can't complain that he hasn't made it clear.

Posted by: Sanpete | Dec 28, 2006 3:39:32 PM

Sanpete, could you do Edwards a favor and start bashing him for his irresponsible leave-now position? Please.

Posted by: david mizner | Dec 28, 2006 4:00:48 PM

No need to do Edwards any favors on this. His position plays well to the Democratic base, who have plenty of reasons, good and bad, to just want to leave and hope Iraq will just somehow ... well, whatever.

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Posted by: eddiej | Oct 8, 2007 8:15:43 AM

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