Benny's World

Friday, March 23, 2007

Profiles of Courage

By now, BW readers know that Elizabeth Edwards has cancer again. It has moved from her breast to a rib, and it's possible that it has spread a bit. However, as she is asymptomatic, she and John have decided to continue the campaign.

I trust them more than any other candidate and spouse for restoring dignity, faith, hope, love, and moral leadership in that tarnished White House.

Update: I just saw this cool image by Redjet at the JRE blog.

Here's the video in case you missed the press conference.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Strength in Numbers

As Chancelucky alluded to on his comment on my last thread, Elizabeth Edwards has another health issue to tackle. As we await word (about 90 minutes from now), I found a post by Aldon Hynes at Orient Lodge that seemed to resonate with me about "the trick to being strong". With his permission, I am reposting its entirety here.

During my vacation, I found some time to start reading an advance copy of Jeffrey Feldman’s upcoming book, Framing the Debate: Famous Presidential Speeches and How Progressives Can Use Them to Change the Conversation (And Win Elections). It is a great book that I hope anyone interested in politics spends some time reading.

We would do well to spend more time reading speeches of former leaders. The first speech analyzed is George Washington’s first inaugural address. He spoke about being called by “the voice of my country”. Feldman talks about the “humble servant” frame, of great leaders responding to a call by the country and a recognition that they it takes much more than just a great leader to solve our country’s problems, it takes the strength of the American people.
When my wife ran for State Representative in 2004, she reflected upon this theme in an address to the local Democratic Committee.

Perhaps I’ve been more involved than many people my age. I have always made it to the voting booth. However, other than voting, I never thought too much about my responsibility in the political process.

Then George W. Bush became president, and suddenly the America I grew up in seemed to be losing itself. A booming economy slowed to a trickle, and environmental legislation seemed to go backwards. September 11th happened, and then it seemed possible, for a brief moment, that we would come together as a nation and rally once more. We had the world’s sympathy and support. But that only lasted for a moment, and then we slipped even further into economic downturn and world isolation.

As I’ve watched the current presidential campaigns, I’ve wondered if anyone will embrace the humble servant frame. For the past forty years, our candidates have seemed to shun this frame. They have been caught up in the hero worship and the idea that if you vote for them, they will solve all our problems.

Gov. Dean challenged this idea by saying, “the biggest lie people like me tell people like you is that if you vote for me, I’ll solve all your problems. The truth is, you have the power.” Perhaps we, as a nation, are not at a place where we are ready to elect leaders that recognize and honor the power of the American people. I would have hoped that September 11th would have reminded us of that strength.

Yet as I’ve worked for campaigns and suggested that candidates admit that they don’t know everything and that they will need all the people around them working lend a hand, people looked at me as if I was nuts.

Perhaps I am, but I still have faith in the American People, in the empathy and compassion that made our country strong and has helped us through difficult times.

Today, we will see what sort of candidate one of the 2008 contenders is really is. Yesterday, John Edwards cancelled a campaign event to attend a doctor’s appointment with his wife Elizabeth. They will be having a news conference at noon, and ABC News is running with the headline Elizabeth Edwards' Health Could Halt Her Husband's Presidential Prospects.

Anyone who has helped a friend or family member fight something as devastating as cancer recognizes the wisdom that Elizabeth Edwards shared in her book Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers: "There's a trick to being strong," she wrote, "and the trick is that nobody does it alone."

While I hope that there are no new complications in Elizabeth’s health, I do hope John and Elizabeth use this as a moment to remind all of us in the strength of the American People when they offer and accept help from the people around us. I hope that we focus on much more than people posting blog posts and videos online and instead call everyone to help those around them, whether it be a large One Corps organized events, or something as simple as bringing a casserole to a neighbor having a tough time. I hope that such actions help heal our country and move us closer to One America where we reach out not only to people like us, but to those who are different from ourselves.

Will Senator Edwards and his wife be able to return the leadership of our country to one that honors, listens to and recognizes the importance of relying on all the American people? I hope that will be the silver lining in the clouds of Elizabeth’s battle with cancer.

Amen, Aldon, and prayers for Elizabeth.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Oliver Willis' Blog Gets Makeover

And for his readers' benefit.

Nice new pic, Oliver.

Click his site on my blogroll.

And keep up the good work, along with your employer.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Will It Be This Be the Matchup in the 2008 Election?

Last Sunday, I was watching a little of Faux Snooz. Normally it is a snooz, but one of the guests caught my attention. It was an actor from Tennessee and who used to be in the US Senate: Fred Dalton Thompson. He's well known for his role on as Arthur Branch on Law and Order (a show that I like very much, but confess I wait for the reruns) and actually, if one clicks the link to the Wikipedia entry, one can see he's been in a few movies too.

On FNS, Thompson more or less said he was flirting with the idea of a run, and was keeping the door open.

"I'm going to wait and see what happens," Thompson said. "I want to see my colleagues on the campaign trial, what they say, what they emphasize, whether they can carry the ball next November."

"I think people are somewhat disillusioned. A lot of people are cynical out there. They're looking for something different," he said.

Time magazine did a pretty good job of summarizing the segment, so I will post some snips here about his " lightening rod" issues (as Wallace termed it on the show):

—Is "pro-life," and believes federal judges should overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision as "bad law and bad medical science."

—Opposes gay marriage, but would let states decide whether to allow civil unions. "Marriage is between a man and a woman, and judges shouldn't be allowed to change that."

—Opposes gun control, and praised last week's 2-1 federal appeals decision overturning a long-standing handgun ban in Washington, D.C. "The court basically said the Constitution means what it says."

Supports President Bush's decision to increase troops in Iraq. "Wars are full of mistakes. You rectify them. I think we are doing that now," he said. "We've got to give it a chance to work."

—Would pardon former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice now, rather than waiting until all his appeals are exhausted.

Well, I can see why he would say that about Scooter since Thompson raised money for Libby's legal defense. But we all believe Scooter will get pardoned sooner or later. I don't think he deserves the pardon, but reality is reality here.

So why am I paying attention to him more than I am to Newtie, who recently, asked for forgiveness for his indescretions--so far 3 majors and a number of minors--and said so on James Dobson's show not long ago? (Yeah, Newtie focuses on his family. Right.) It's because I think Fred D is right. I don't think the Republican party faithful are going to stick with Rudy, even though he is the media's front-runner at the moment, although I'm not certain they are looking for something different. They are still looking for Ronald Reagan. I also think that Newt cannot compete easily with Fred. Newt is a policy wonk. Fred is too, as he has a consulting contract with AEI, but he talks friendly. Newt is a loose cannon, as someone on Chris Matthews' show said today.

So, while Fred D is not my choice for President, he presents an interesting challenge to Dems running in the primaries next year, if he jumps in. What are the implications of a Fred D run?

  • Obama will not be seen as a heavy hitter against Thompson after Rep Harold Ford's loss in Tennessee for the Senate (not to mention Ford is DLC chairman at present, which is Clinton's and Obama's crowd)
  • No one from the NE or New England can carry off a win against a Southerner with strong and positive name recognition (sadly, it includes Chris Dodd, but I heard this morning he can speak Spanish fluently)
Conclusion: only ones who would be very competitive in the general election would be John Edwards, or possibly Bill Richardson, but I cannot see Richardson pulling it off either.

I think Dems will see that only a Southerner like JRE could possibly win against a Fred D Thompson, no matter how much money Clinton has to buy ads. Good ol' Bill cannot help her either. Biscuits and gravy voters (meaning those who are from red to purple states) are likely to support Edwards, especially if the war in Iraq continues to go badly. Thirty Sooner state legislators hopped on the Edwards train on Friday and are offering ground boots support too. That means he is competitive now not only in Iowa, and NC, but Oklahoma too.

Edwards understands their language, just as Rep Morgan and State Sen Morgan of OK said in their letter on behalf of JRE:

After a thorough review of our many qualified candidates it is clear that Senator Edwards has earned our support. Senator Edwards has the ideas and vision to lead our country and restore America as the moral leader in the world. He will always fight to improve the lives of working Oklahomans and every working American.

Senator Edwards has been a friend to our state and to the causes we hold dear. He has spent more time in Oklahoma than any other announced or potential candidates, and he understands and can effectively communicate with our values-driven, populist electorate. During the 2006 election cycle, he worked tirelessly to support our efforts to elect Democratic majorities in the State House and Senate. He attended fundraisers on behalf of both the House and Senate caucuses, profiled our members on his website, and repeatedly offered his personal time and service when it could be of use for fundraising, candidate recruitment and messaging.

Edwards and Thompson are both lawyers (and Thompson a US Attorney) who have a lot of experience being in front of juries. And Thompson chose to not to run for re-election in 2002, thus only serving two more years than Edwards.

But here's one asset Thompson should consider very carefully that JRE has and he doesn't: Elizabeth Edwards. She's the same woman Edwards been married to for 30 years.

(photo credit Lindsay Beyerstein on Flickr)

Thompson married a second time to a much younger woman.

More l8tr...

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