JRE Buzz (24): Labor Day Edition
As you see by Gil Talbot's photo, Edwards was on the road, literally on a union' man's day of hard work. The photo was taken in Manchester where he spoke to the NH AFL-CIO at their post-rally breakfast. And yep, Edwards quite a few things to say, including that Rummy needed to give up his cabinet seat for the terrible mess he has made in Iraq.
Edwards also continued to talk about the right to belonging to unions, sort of in response to Wal-mart and big corporations who continue to fire workers if they try to be union agents or have outsourced manufacturing jobs in their march to weaken unions. Here's what JRE had to say (that I posted on the Daily Kos earlier today):
The manufacturing jobs that everyone is so worried about losing to overseas competition "weren't good jobs before the union," he said.
Edwards said he favors increasing the minimum wage to $7.50 an hour and banning the hiring of permanent replacements for striking workers. He also backed making it easier for workers to unionize."If Americans can join the Republican Party by signing their name to a card, they should be able to sign a card to join a union," he said.
I find the quote in bold intriguing and I will have to think it about more, as to what he meant. But here's the link to the AP story, first reported in the Boston Globe, but has been picked up in a dozen other newspapers and TV news sites. Edwards is in Hampton, IL, where I had hoped to cover the story, but trip was going to be too much for me going at it alone for 9 hours out of one day, and probably wouldn't have gotten to say hello anyway. Senator Durbin, Congressman hopeful Bruce Braley from Iowa and our beloved IL governor (sarcasm) were to supposed to be there with JRE and some local Dems at the picnic. But I'll be looking for a post in a couple of hours from the Trib.
Edwards is on route as I speak to Springfield, MO to attend the Labor Day rally and to stump for Claire McCaskill, who is running a tough campaign against incumbent Jim "I'll put those who pursue embroyo stem research in jail" Talent. Again, I'll be looking for posts from the Dispatch and the KC star to see if they cover the event.
Meantime, what happened over the weekend...?? Here's the blog round-up.
The Next Prez, a blog I've mentioned here at BW before, maintains Edwards remains steady in his number 2 spot behind HRC as one of the Dem forerunners. Interesting since the overseas media reports that Friends of HRC seem to think she will not run. National Journal also ranks JRE number 2. Argus Reid says that Edwards, along with HRC has dropped in the polls and Gore is gaining, along with Kerry.
Speaking of polls, Pressing the Flesh saw numbers from a Zogby poll (which I cannot find at the moment) that shows JRE in 5th, but still ahead of HRC.
US News & World Report is releasing a piece this week that says that Gore is not to be counted out but: "Meanwhile, party insiders say former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina has taken to the road, presumably testing presidential waters. His pitch: economic equity coupled with tough talk on President Bush. He is considered particularly strong in Iowa, which caucuses in January 2008." (sorry no link--I found out about the article a different way)
Hillary the next Pro-War Democratic Candidate to Fall? American Reporter Randolph T. Holhut writes that Hillary has tried to position herself as tough with not making her true view about the war (was it a mistake) transparent. Lieberman has, but his view will hurt him in his run against Ned. Why does this matter? Because JRE came out early and apologized for his vote.
Bernie Quigley, who writes for the FMNN that I mentioned in the JRE Buzz last week, ponders aloud about the New Democrats, on his blog. He asserts that Edwards is the only real New Democrat:
"John Edwards is a New Democrat, and among the three frontrunners, only he is a New Democrat. He could well get the nomination now. If so, he would have the opportunity and the responsibility to form a New Democratic party; a new “third party” replacing the old Democratic Party and which would return Americato itself and away from ideologs.
Here are the waves of the New Democrats: Edwards, Sebelius, Warner, Clark, Lynch, Webb,Fighting Dems – Duckworth, Massa, the dKos generation and Johnny Cash to return the Democrats to their roots (“If you don’t like Johnny Cash you can . . . .”). Edwards can nurture this group and bring in more like-minded. My first, second, third and fourth choices for Vice President on a John Edwards Presidential ticket would be Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas. She, with Warner, was identified as governor of “one of the five best governed states . . .” She personifies everything that needs to be said about New Democrats, which I would capture with Warner’s phrase, '. . . a Democratic team with management values'.:
Quigley offers a piece of advice I haven't seen anywhere and it is noteworthy to put it here:
Here is a proposal for Edwards: Compare the U.S. Government with any major corporate structure or national or global network. In rating managers and their existing network it would find last place.
Our vision of federalism is built on ideas of Alexander Hamilton well suited to a frontier society of 1776. Today it is structurally bereft, which is why the failure of Katrina took place. Consider new ideas, like Regional Circles of influence in places which have cultural coherence (like New England, like the Pacific Northwest, like the three Gulf States injured by Katrina. Try to imagine a national or global corporation or organization without regional management and you have only the U.S. Government.
Ed Fitzgerald at Unfutz likes JRE because of his moderate liberal views and potential governance thereof, in the spirit of FDR and Lincoln:
"So what we're looking for in 2008 is a moderately liberal candidate who is not afraid of campaigning from a populist platform and speaking the language of progressive populism. To me, the candidate that seems to fit that bill most (at the moment) is John Edwards, which is why he is (intermittently, at least) at the head of my list -- but whichever candidate we come up with should understand this point: we need to meld liberal governance and populist politics. Liberal governance because it's the right and best thing for the country, and populist politics to enable it."
And Claire, a Des Moines resident, and someone who I thought was a Kerry supporter, has come out already and has declared on her blog, My Best Life, who she wants to be president: JRE. The war in Iraq is one reason, but she asserts further:
Part of my sadness about the current situation is that it takes away from so many other pressing issues. The same administration that will throw billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of soldiers into a losing battle in Iraq will say things like, "You can't just throw money at the problem" when it comes to other important matters like poverty, education and drug treatment.
It's time for a shift in prioritites.
I'd much rather see my tax dollars at work here in this country feeding our poor, funding a college education for all of our high school grads and making health care affordable to all Americans.
That's why I'm supporting John Edwards. His priorities fit with mine almost perfectly. This time I am going to tell everyone I know why it's important and why it's crucial that we demand a fundamental shift in the national agenda. None of us can afford to bite our nails and wait for the outcome. We have to make it happen.
Snarkville is a new feature on BW. It reports more notable snarks, mainly by those who drink the kool-aid, but some also by those who just have flat out snarks about Senator Edwards and his family.
Of course, we have the snarks, such as the Federalist Journal (and their writing doesn't even come close to Alexander Hamilton's in tenor or style) who seem to have little appreciation for a new direction for our country that does not share the One America vision, such as that some people do admit their mistakes or have hindsight, as JRE did. Context: the MTP awful debate between trailing incumbent Rick Santorum and Bob Casey (not one of favs either, but JRE seems to think he would make a good senator--and Casey would be an improvement since Rick is way out of touch with his state literally):
"The question is idiotic. Policy makers don't get the benefit of hindsight when they're making decisions. That's the way it is in the real world. You take the best information you have available at the time, and you make a decision. Asking politicians to go back and "Monday morning quarterback" themselves based on information they didn't have available at the time is pure foolishness. And there's nothing smart or courageous in a politician, such as John Kerry or John Edwards, saying, "If I had know then what I know now, I would've voted differently."
Another snark, which almost plagarizes a piece by John Lillpop that was published in the Post Chronicle and in the blogosphere nearly 7 months ago (I guess wizbang's bomb squad is a little slow on picking up the news) was from Wizbang. The title of its thread is "Did Liberals voted for WMDs as much as Bush" and implies that they too lied?). Yes, I put on some virtual guerilla war gear and had something to say about JRE because I had seen the same commentary months ago, and it was time to debunk the bomb squad. If you will go look at the comments, I had a link to JRE's Op-Ed piece in Washington Post from November 13th, and that I was glad to see someone with some backbone to say he was accountible and was responsible for his vote, something Bush would not do, even in admitting "faulty intelligence."
I also commented that they didn't make the complete attribution either to where they got Lillpop's piece, which was originally entitled, "Did These Democrats Lie About Saddam's WMD?", but maybe Kevin Aylward, wizbang's E-i-C, has automatic permissions to make attributions in that way by Mr. Lollpop.
There was one other snark about JRE on the TNR's comments concerning an Al Gore possible run, but unless the snarky pattern continues, I am cognizant that Al's supporters are sincere about his candidacy.
To close on a reflective note, BW offers two threads that seem appropriate in thinking about Labor Day, and do reference JRE.
The first one is John Lacny and the title of the Thread is "State of the Class Struggle". I'm borrowing some meaty content here:
Poverty in the United States is an in-your-face fact for people who have to live with it -- or die from it. That is why it is so infuriating that there is a phalanx of bought-and-paid-for pseudo-economists whose job it is to minimize its importance or even deny its existence. It's difficult to suppress the urge to do simple physical violence to such people, but the accomplished Max Sawicky of the Economic Policy Institute has just mobilized facts and logic to skewer a pig from the American Enterprise Institute whose morally offensive pigshit was splattered on the pages of the Washington Post yesterday.
If we're to get any relief from this, it's going to require a lot of organization and agitation. But if you're looking for an interesting development on the electoral front, you might want to have a look at the website for the One America Committee, where John Edwards is positioning himself far enough to the left that he will not be able to secure the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 unless the left is able to pull off some sort of organizational and mobilizational miracle within the next two years. What Edwards is doing is fairly remarkable for those of us with no memory of the pre-Reagan years. Edwards is actually talking as if poverty is an issue for this country, and attempting to make it part of the national political conversation again (if you'll excuse my "conversation" metaphor, since real politics is not so much a conversation as a knife fight). For as long as I can remember, poverty and class in the electoral arena have been the provinces of a saving remnant of labor-inflected liberals and real progressives, a majority of them black (Conyers, Waters, Lee, Dellums, etc.), with a small and shrinking contingent of feisty elected officials from working-class white ethnic districts (Kucinich, without much of an etc.). But Edwards is not part of this "stage army of the good." When he ran for president in 2003-04, most of us at first figured he was a Bill Clinton clone, ideologically close to the DLC and wielding all of that dubious "Southern charm" as his most important asset. Instead, he started flipping the script in talking about the "two Americas." And even then, he almost became Vice-President of the United States.
Now, programmatically Edwards is not saying much that is all that different from the standard things that make Democrats generally preferable to Republicans. He is for raising the minimum wage. He opposes the shift in the tax burden from the wealthy to everyone else that has occurred under Bush, and wants to halt or reverse it. He supports card-check neutrality for union recognition, something to which most Democrats at the Federal level are now formally committed. So in what appears, at first glance, to be substantive issues, Edwards does not really stand out.
Where he differs, though, is on emphasis. He puts these issues front-and-center in his campaign and talks about them as if he wants to actually do something about them. And the way he is talking is going to scare away corporate donors and make Edwards dependent on working-class organizations if he wants to be viable in 2008. I have seen him at two events since the 2004 defeat. At one union event, he talked enthusiastically about his role as a national spokesman for the Hotel Workers Rising campaign, called unions "the most effective anti-poverty program in American history," and launched a blistering, spot-on attack on the Bush Administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. At the other event, which was part of the "Wake Up Wal-Mart" bus tour, he took an explicit and consistent anti-corporate line on Wal-Mart, flaying the company for the fact that most of its workers can't afford health care. He has also taken public positions on issues that are near and dear to the hearts of grassroots organizers: opposing predatory lending (an ACORN favorite campaign) and, as I mentioned before, supporting card-check neutrality for union organizing. This is an issue that is wonkish and hard to grasp for people who have not actually seen union organizing campaigns up close, but Edwards gives every indication that he takes it seriously, unlike other Democrats who have endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) on a pro forma basis but cannot reliably be expected to fight for it as a priority."Benny's World appreciates Lacny's thoughtful commentary on the subject of class struggles, but respectfully disagrees that JRE is pulling himself too far to the left. I think it would useful if he revisited JRE's talk to the National Press Club 9 weeks ago in which he advocates moral responsibility from not only our government but from those who need to start showing responsibility at home. Edwards put it this way:
But after that, there’s only so much the government can do. So the real burden of promoting strong families falls to us.
All of us—parents, clergy, teachers, public officials—we need to say that it is wrong when young men father children but don’t support them.
It is wrong when girls and young women bear children they aren’t ready to care for.
It is wrong when corporate America – through movies, music and advertising – promotes a culture of reckless behavior to our youth.
And it is wrong when all Americans see this happening and do nothing to stop it.
Fighting poverty is a job for government, it is a job for communities, it is a job for all of us.
Source: One America Committee
Letters from Here had a thinkpiece about the "Two Americas today". The context was a picture of a homeless or poor person juxapositioned to another who was affluent with Tiffany bags in a Tiffany's window display 20 years ago in NY. The window peepers remarked "how the bags were alike", but as evident, the irony was totally lost of them. Here's what Madison Guy wrote:
"The divisions are even greater today, the rich richer, the poor poorer -- and their ranks growing, as working Americans struggle more than ever, with so many of the decent jobs getting sucked overseas in pursuit of lower wages. At the same time, housing and health care are becoming more and more expensive.
But we don't talk about it nearly enough, and our two-party system is hardly doing much of a job of responding to the crisis. Republican control of the White house and Congress is part of it, of course. But where are the Democrats? How can it be that only one Democrat, John Edwards, has become known for talking about the two Americas? Why aren't they all? Timid Democrats inside the Beltway who are afraid of being accused of fomenting class warfare are one reason. Eight years of Clinton-era triangulation also left their mark, compromises that had real NAFTA-style price tag attached to them."
Yes, John Edwards seems to be the only one who consistently talks about it, and will until we get our Houses in order to pay attention to how to solve real people's problems, and tipping the balance away from Corporate Welfare.
Todd Beeton of Courage Campaign reports that California Treasurer Phil Angelides, who is a candidate for governor in California, sent out a Labor Day message on Friday "that invoked the words of John Edwards and Franklin D. Roosevelt in bringing attention to the rising gap between rich and poor in California.
In his message, Angelides begins by echoing the populist message of John Edwards’s presidential campaign in which he spoke in dire terms of the emergence of “two Americas,” one for the haves and one for the have-nots.
This Labor Day…should be a time to celebrate California’s fortune as the most economically vibrant state in the richest nation on earth. Instead, for many of our lowest paid workers, it is a time for concern about a widening disparity in economic opportunity that threatens to create a future of “two Californias,” one prosperous, one slipping toward poverty."
Beeton continues to say that "Angelides then goes on to call for the closing of this gap and cites the raising of the minimum wage and indexing it against inflation as integral to this effort."
Governor Ahr-nold, is set to sign the recently passed minimum wage increase to $8/hour by 2008, possibly to blunt some of the political advantage his opponent may garner. However, as Beeton writes, "Angelides is focusing on the importance of indexing the rise in pay, which Schwarzenegger opposes and which did not make it into the final bill."
In case you've forgotten, Ned and JRE are stumping for SEIU and Angelides next weekend. Looks like Angelides is becoming a "John Edwards Democrat". Hat-tip to d-day blog for the Beeton piece and for a nice analysis about income downturn in the past 2 years.
Happy Labor Day, all.
This Just In...from Western IL Event
Dave Barrett made this post on his blog, Moline Illinois Democratic Maverick.
"I was very impressed with John Edwards and what he had to say. I did not take notes or record the speach so what I say will be from my memory and impressions of what he said. He told us that people around the world were suspicious and dubious about the motives and objectives of the United States and what we are doing overseas but that was because they did not know the American people, who we are and what we stand for. The reason they do not know us is because Abu Graib and Guantanomo Bay do not reflect the American people. We are better than that! And if Democrats are returned to power in Washington the government's actions and polices will once again reflect the values and morals of the American people. He said more than that but that is the essence of what I took away from his speech.
The media is reporting that hundreds of people were there. That seems right to me."
Way to go, JRE! And kudos Dave for the mini-report on this event.
AP Story via WOI TV:
Edwards Talks Poverty, Labor in Quad Cities
HAMPTON, Ill. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards told hundreds of union activists to discount suggestions of a decline in the labor movement.
The Democrat says an expanding service industry offers an opportunity for growth.
Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, headlined a Labor Day picnic today for the Quad City Federation of Labor. The event was held just across the Iowa border in Hampton, Illinois.
Read the rest here. Not much to it.
One other news post about the Quad Cities event entitled Election Season in Full Swing.
snippet from WHbF TV:
We asked the senators what it will take for democrats like Hare to win in November.
"I'm hoping this November 7th the American people who have been frustrated and angry will speak up with their vote," said Durbin.
"People to understand how much is at stake," said Edwards. "Literally the future of America and the world is at stake in these elections. We can't continue on the course that we are on now, we're better than that."
More buzz l8tr...
Tags: John Edwards, JRE Buzz, Benny's World, Madison Guy, New Hampshire, New Hampshire AFL-CIO, Poverty, Labor, Presidential Race 2008, John Lacny, My Best Life, Bernie Quigley, Ed Fitzgerald, Unfutz, Claire in Des Moines, New Democrats, One America Committee, Snarkville, d-day blog, Courage Campaign, Todd Beeton, California, income downturn, Dave Barrett, Moline Illinois Democratic Maverick, Hampton IL, Quad Cities, Next Prez 2008, Pressing the Flesh, American Reporter, Lessons from Here, Senator Dick Durbin, WHBF TV, WOI-TV, Labor Day