By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

I saw the lite

I was at that Los Angeles breakfast meeting in 2000, sitting next to Seth Gitell, when John Edwards was making the non-impression on Massachusetts Democrats that Seth so accurately describes. Based on that encounter, I never would have thought Edwards had much of a future. Actually, I still don’t.

A few days ago, Rick Klein, writing in the Boston Globe, reported that veterans of John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign dispute Edwards’ recent claims that he wanted to get tough on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but that the Kerry people wouldn’t let him. It’s a classic he said/he said, but I believe the Kerry folks. Edwards was a terrible running mate. Even an unexciting choice like Dick Gephardt might have enabled Kerry to win Missouri and, thus, the presidency.

Mind you, I’m not getting into what Edwards said or didn’t say about Israel. I’m just unimpressed with the guy, that’s all.

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  1. Don

    Good grief! An entire post full of the names of politicos who are meaningless in today’s world.

  2. Anonymous

    Gephardt???? You think GEPHARDT would have put Kerry over the top? (Not that he necessarily lost, by the way.)DICK Gephardt?

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Gephardt wouldn’t have lost any states, and he might have dragged Missouri into the “D” column. An inspired choice? No. Better than Edwards? Yes.

  4. Anonymous

    And here I was, thinking minorities and the poor – ya know, the constituency that makes the republicans quake in their boots, should they ever decide to start voting in significant numbers – liked John Edwards.Gotta give Gephardt an “A” for charisma, though, right?

  5. Anonymous

    Why am I not surprised that Irrelevant Seth does a hit piece on Edwards in light of his comment that was turned upside down and exagerated, sounding no more and no less than scare tactics and censorship. This is one of the original people who reported it. Note the comments section.There are a myriad of reasonable articles on the subject, the NYT ran a feature on this kind of issue a couple of weeks ago.This is a good article to read, from a level-headed guy who has some useful advice to your friend towards the end of the article.Take some deep breath here. Dean was smeared in the same fashion n the last weeks before Iowa and NH.As to your agreeing with this possiblility that Kerry and Edwards were held back from “getting tough” is History being rewritten: they were tough. They performed well on the debates and had the upper hand. They were slight favorites going into the election, but they were careful not to be rude or too abrasive or insulting. They had to be careful how they came across. Edwards cornered the VP pretty well during debates. Even Kerry when the Prez was answering, would lower his eyes and pretend to be taking notes so that his usual smirk and rolling of the eyes is not cuaght on camera.So this “getting tough” stuff is fluff and irrelevant.YOU have to get back to that time’s popularity polls and atmosphere and judge it then.Edwards is a lightweight and is not deserving of any ticket seat, front or back. He is a panderer and lawyer salesman.There are people who master the issues much better, like Shumer or Meeks or Kent Conrad or other great choices. Shumer would be a great choice. He really remedied his media “wh@riness” issue and is a fantastic pick. Good guy, very smart, likeable and very knowledgeable. He sounds capable compared to Pretty Boy Millionaire.I don’t remember you really liking neither Kerry nor Edwards back in 2004. Didn’t you favor Gephardt? I don’t remember clearly.Hindsight revision is pretty convenient, Dan. This discussion is really needless and out of place. Edwards doesn’t have a chance regardless of what he did or does. He is a weak candidate.The Future of the Dem party is towards including someone like Jim Webb or Salazar or Richardson or Tester.Jim webb on the ticket would almost certainly guarantee a win.So let’s not drag this conversation into Edwards mishmosh just because your pal is erroneously peeved at him.A non-factor. Next…N.

  6. Anonymous

    Well, I certainly prefer the populist Edwards to the DLC version. Not all that concerned about Charisma. And at this point, on policy and policy alone, Edward’s has got to be the choice if it is between Obama and CLinton. (the latter I will not vote for, even in a general election)

  7. A.J. Cordi

    If anything, it should have been Edwards with Kerry as a running mate. You may not like Edwards, but nobody can quite screw up a presidential campaign like Kerry did. Now, we’re still stuck with Bush.

  8. Peter Porcupine

    I enjoyed picketing Mr. Edwards at a campaign stop in Lewiston, Maine with some doctors (yes, they were real doctors) in white coats, carrying signs about tort reform.For a populist, he’s awfully skittish with the public (and I’m talking about his supporters, dutifully lined up to listen to him – we stayed nicely on the opposite side of the street).He pulled upin a big black Chevy Explorer, doing a ‘talk to the hand’ to people trying to engage him, making a beeline for the TV cameras, where it was worth his while to turn on the charm. Very revealing.

  9. Tony

    I like John Edwards. I liked him in 2004 and I like him now. I like that he is talking about poverty when no one else will. I think he was a good choice for the VP slot and I believe him when he says that he was restrained by the Kerry campaign – knowing what control freaks they are. But let me make a quick point about Gephardt for a minute: Gephardt would have been a better choice for the presidency than Kerry – never mind the VP slot. Not only would Missouri been in play but probably Iowa and Ohio too. In fact, every place which saw a closed factory would have been in play. Gephardt would have campaigned in factory lines – and everywhere else – during the campaign, going after the free trade policies which have decimated our manufacturing sector here in the United States and killed – yeah, killed – working class folks in this country, most of whom have historically voted for Democrats on economic issues. Gephardt would have pulled over so many Reagan Democrats back to the Dems – something windsurfing, Vail-skiing, yell at my butler, soulless yuppie couldn’t do in a million years – that the election would have been a walk. And, the anti-war folks, not unlike with Kerry heading up the ticket, would have had nowhere else to go.

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