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John Edwards, Ann Coulter, and Family Values

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Message David Riegel

  Corrente from has the video Max Blumenthal of The Nation did at the CPAC, and the silly moment when Coulter says, "I was going to talk about John Edwards, but if you use the word f*ggot you have to go into rehab."  Or something close to that.  It's not worth getting exactly right. 

(As an aside, this is a pretty good rejoinder: "I've been wondering why no one has pointed out that among the conservatives it isn't saying the word 'f*ggot' that gets you chucked into rehab, but actually turning out to be one." -Talking">">Talking Points Memo)

But it's always worth a reminder that this is how the right operates.  People like Coulter and Limbaugh fill a very important role for them.  By calling Edwards a f*ggot, she's gotten it into the public conciousness, even though the "mainstream" figures of the right will disavow it.  Naturally McCain can't say that, nor any of the other candidates.  But the harpies on the right like Coulter provide this useful service, just as people like the Swift Boaters made similar attacks on Kerry in 04 while Bush and his team could simply pretend to be above it all.  This kind of organized smear campaign doesn't really exist on the left, although the right constantly tries to paint Media Matters or certain elements of the blogosphere with the same brush, suggesting as O'Reilly does that the left has a vile hate machine going.  But you can't equate the fact checking and bias spotting of Media Matters with the orchestrated character assassination of people like Coulter.

Every four years, the right will trot out a familiar set of attacks on the leading Democratic candidates.  One of those attacks will be various insinuations that a candidate is gay.  They'll call him effeminate, or make a big deal of him speaking French, or something.  But the insinuation is there.  This year, Coulter is bypassing the insinuation and just going straight into bigoted name calling.  They have already gone after Obama (and true to form, Coulter called him B. Hussein Obama in her speech) on racist grounds, they've been going after Hillary for years, and now they are going after Edwards. 

Let's remember though, that they simultaneously want to be the family values party. 

John Edwards is as family values as you can get.  He married Elizabeth after college.  They had two children.  One was tragically killed at age 16.  How did the Edwards family respond to that crisis in their lives?  John and Elizabeth decided to have two more children.

This may be sappy and sentimental, but think of that for a moment.  You've lost your child.  He was almost a man.  You dreamed of him joining your law practice.  And he dies in one stupid accident.  Every parent's nightmare.  Most of us, if we are honest about it, would probably be lost in despair, would wonder if we wanted to go on with our own lives.  But John and Elizabeth did something miraculous.  They affirmed life and their love for one another by having two more children.  And then they made the decision to enter public service to try to make this country a better place to live. 

The courage of that decision, in the aftermath of the death of a child, quite frankly, is beyond my comprehension.  I admire it, and I seek to learn from it.  When I think of what John and Elizabeth did, I am inspired to be a better husband and father.

And that is the person that the "family values" types in Washington last week took such delight in being called a "f*ggot." 

Attack John Edwards for his politics, that's fine.  That's fair.  Hell, attack him personally too.  That happens in a presidential campaign too.  But don't attack a family man like John Edwards and then pretend to be the party of family values.  You can't have it both ways. 

John Edwards knows more about family values than you could ever dream of, Ann.  

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I live in Ohio where I work in public education. I blog on politics, education, and literature.
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