July 6, 2004
The Kennedy obsession that Kerry and Edwards share is now enshrined in this John-John ticket. Still, the Edwards choice makes sense for several reasons.
First off, Edwards brings a little razzle-dazzle to a campaign sorely in need of it. The idea of Kerry-Gephardt, Dull and Duller, promised nothing but a snoozathon.
Secondly, Edwards has proven his ability to campaign in crucial Midwestern states. Had it not been for General Clark skipping the Iowa caucuses, Edwards may have prevailed there and been the actual Presidential nominee himself, as Clark could have split the military vote with Kerry. In Wisconsin, Edwards came on strong. And he should work some of his magic in Ohio, as well.
Edwards talks about class in a way that John Kerry never could. And it's a crucial issue.
Kerry, and especially his wife Teresa, stand at the pinnacle of privilege. Anything they say about class reeks of noblesse oblige.
But Edwards can walk the walk. And boy can he talk! His "Two Americas" speech during the primaries was one of the most radical speeches I've ever heard.
In announcing Edwards as his choice, Kerry said that Edwards's concern about the two Americas "is at the center of this campaign." It needs to be if Kerry wants to win. Kerry hailed Edwards as "a champion of middle class America and those struggling to reach the middle class." It was refreshing to hear an acknowledgement of those below the middle class, a segment of the population too often neglected by both parties.
Not that the ticket is blemish-free.
We now have two candidates who voted for the Iraq War, two candidates who voted for the Patriot Act.
To win, they will need to earn the vote of some wavering progressives, and of a lot of working people who either don't usually vote or who get seduced into voting against their interests. Talking about class--and about "health care for all Americans," which got the biggest applause in Kerry's speech--is a good place to start.