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John Edwards: Too Soon for Political Obituary

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Message Jayne Stahl
So, maybe the media has timed out on John Edwards. Maybe the pay for view press has decided to shrink the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination to two candidates, but this would be premature evacuation.

Every contender with the stomach for it has the right to remain in the race for as long as he or she wants without the benefit of primetime postmortems. Isn't it bad enough that we try, and convict, those who are only suspected of committing a crime on our TV newscasts? Is this any way to run a democracy? Yes, into the ground.

If we, in this country, weren't so insistent upon novelty, and looked instead to competency, John Edwards would be, by far, the clear leader as the nominee of the Democratic Party. Yet, in keeping with their time-honored tradition, the Democrats will instead show their uncanny ability to foul it up all just when a victory is most needed, and instead of delivering an end to a war which has lasted longer than Vietnam, we will, yet again, deliver a nominee who is guaranteed to pull an LBJ and keep fanning the flames of battle in the name of bringing the boys home. The lies are the same; the only thing that changed is the calendar.

While it's true that any Democrat nominated must secure as many crossover Republican votes as possible, if we think of government as a large ship, what happens when all the weight is in the center? As long as any candidate places his, or her tonnage solely in the middle, the ship of state must sink. That was John Kerry's problem; not willing to go out on a limb, sticking with the tried and true---is this what it means to be experienced? But, even more daunting for him, Kerry wasn't a fighter. If Kerry were a fighter, he'd have fought for every last vote to be counted in Ohio, and we would not have had a second term of George W. Bush who didn't even deserve a first term.

Still, it would be ingenuous to think, even for a minute, that only the experienced stick with the tried and true. No one who is unprepared, or unwilling, to take a risk belongs in the Oval Office, in the first place. George Washington took risks, John Adams, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy---even Richard Nixon took risks; not all risks are created equal, after all.

Make no mistake, whether one likes Hillary Clinton is beside the point just as whether one likes Barack Obama is also beside the point, the only candidate who has stated emphatically that he will withdraw all troops from Iraq is John Edwards. The only candidate not beating the war drums with respect to Iran or Pakistan is John Edwards. Moreover, the only Democratic contender not luxuriating in generalities and abstractions is John Edwards.

And, ultimately, the candidate, besides Dennis Kucinich, who poses the greatest risk to the corporate lobbies, and big business in Washington, is John Edwards. Edwards is a fighter which is what we need if the Democrats are to regain the White House in 2008. Edwards is a fighter which is what we need if we are to wrestle with economic inequality, and restore equity and a middle class. He will fight for the working man and woman at the expense of the corporate elite. With Edwards, we will see more of our children in college than on the front lines of battle.

Yes, and go figure, John Edwards just happens to be the guy the corporate-owned media is squeezing out of the race as they try to figure out how to siphon off his votes while racheting up John McCain. Well, guess what, winning one or two primaries doesn't make a presidential candidate any more than losing one or two breaks one.

For remembering this, one needs to thank former President Clinton who, throughout his wife's campaign, has often reminded us how he lost the first five primaries, and still won the presidency to go on to become one of the most accomplished presidents in recent history until Gingrich and Co. got their teeth into him. No doubt, Romney and Huckabee are sharpening their fangs, and salivating at the thought of a Clinton redux. What makes anyone naive enough to think Hillary has a chance when she comes up against the same evangelical lobby that brought down Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush before him?

Well, then, as the mainstream media would have us believe---that leaves Barack Obama. Senator Obama needs to learn a lot more from John Edwards about articulating a clear, and straightforward position on domestic and foreign policy before anyone can take him seriously enough to vote for him behind closed doors.

We've already had seven years of abstractions like "war on terror," and "axis of evil." If Obama doesn't step forward in real time, and with plain talk, tell us his position, in vivid detail, on all the contentious issues like gun control, and health insurance, you can bet your bottom dollar his Republican counterpart will. Further, were Obama to get the nomination, by the time the Republican spin masters got through with him, he'd make Noam Chomsky look like Mike Huckabee.

As for Hillary Clinton, I think this country has had enough of political dynasties, with the possible exception of the Kennedys, and apart from an important thumbs up from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. ,the Kennedy clan has been conspicuously silent.

Ultimately, Edwards and Obama have one thing in common: they both need to broaden their base. Edwards has to appeal to those who drive a Lexus, as well as the middle class; Obama has to appeal to everyone over 40.

But, more importantly, it's time for the pundits, and the press, to hold off on the eulogies, divvying up any candidate's estate, or declaring anyone down for the count until many more voices are heard, and votes counted.
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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.
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