First off, I didn’t get to ask my question; there just wasn’t time. Look, Edwards is a charismatic guy who is capable of making himself sound intelligent. So was Huey Long. But dig a little deeper and you see a guy with real, serious problems. In the course of an hour, Edwards more or less proved that he’s unworthy of the presidency.
The problems started with his wife’s introduction. She referenced North Carolina’s motto (Esse quam videri, or “to be, rather than to seem”) and commented on how perfectly if describes her husband, how honest he was, how genuine. This was a recurring theme in the speech. Edwards would periodically, and self-congratulatingly, say, “I have to be honest here,” and then mention something that the left of the party doesn’t like, like his initial enthusiastic backing of the war or his uncomfortableness with teh gay (he was visibly disturbed by a students’ question on that subject). And he repeatedly said that the US needed a leader who was “honest” with it.
All of which is curious, considering that Edwards showed himself to be, if not dishonest, a fool. About halfway through the speech, he commented about international poverty, how much worse it is than domestic poverty, and how the US has to do something about it. Then, in response to the first question (about Jim Webb and the neo-populist movement in the Democratic party), he called globalization “sick,” “unfair” and “deeply unhealthy”. He didn’t say it was mismanaged – he maligned the entire concept. This isn’t Gephardt. This is Nader.
Now, there are two ways for a person to be capable of saying that the US needs to deal with international poverty and that globalization is evil in the same event. One possibility is that the person’s stupid and doesn’t recognize that there’s a contradiction. The other is that he’s a charlatan who cares about the union vote and not about intellectually honesty. Whichever is the case, Edwards is not deserving of the presidency.
There are three other things to note. One is that Edwards took criticism of his saber-rattling with regards to Iran to heart – he had an explicit line or two condemning a hypothetical military strike. Another is his admission that he’s uncomfortable with gay marriage and, he implied, the whole issue; any feminist who supports this man needs to do some hard thinking. Finally, anyone who thinks that Edwards’ populism will lead him to support single-payer health care is very mistaken. Edwards got a question from an SEIU activist who talked about how US health care is the best in the world (it isn’t), how he didn’t want a government-run plan because such a plan would nationalize one third of the economy (it wouldn’t) but how he wanted to expand access to coverage. Edwards responded that “very shortly” he would reveal his health care plan, which he’s already decided on, and which would provide universal coverage without “government control”. He did say that he intends to break the link between employment and health care, which should make Ezra happy, but he also sent a pretty strong signal that we shouldn’t expect Medicare for All.

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