Washington, D.C.—The choice of John Edwards sends three big signals to the political community; With Edwards, Kerry will attack Bush across the South, which means Florida will definitely be in play during the campaign. During his presidential campaign, Edwards made a major point of challenging Bush’s grip on the South.
Second it signals that the conservative Democratic Leadership Council, Edwards’s home base, will once again carry big clout in Democratic party politics. Anybody who thought Kerry’s support for Edwards spelled a tilt to the liberal wing of the party, can pretty much forget it.
The DLC led the charge against Howard Dean during the primaries, supporting Joe Lieberman who attacked Dean as a liberal and leftist out of touch with the thinking of the country.
And third, it means the Clintonistas are alive and well. Bill Clinton, who is to address the convention in Boston later this month, will be a major—if not the major—figure in the Democratic campaign. For conservatives, Bill means Hillary, who makes them froth all the more.
In terms of money, Edwards opens the coffers of the trial lawyers, who have considerable sway in the party and pour tens of thousands of dollars into political campaigns. Before being elected to the Senate, Edwards was a courtroom star, with victories in personal injury suits.
The Edwards pick should please Ralph Nader who urged Kerry to pick the first-term North Carolina senator. However, for potential Nader or third-party voters, Kerry’s choice suggests it’s business as usual in the Democratic party. If your opposition to the Iraq war was heightened by Michael Moore’s film, then why vote for the Democrats? Both Kerry and Edwards supported Bush’s policies. Why vote for the Dems? A Bermuda triangle of middle-class values, a/k/a Kerry’s “values of America” and Edwards’s “regular folks,” is not a call to enfranchise the poor or provide universal health care or equal justice. It means a tax cut here and there to help out the new middle class and things like more disclosure on pill bottles.
As for judicial reform, it should be remembered that Clinton and Gore, in response to the Oklahoma City bombings, crafted many of the policies against terrorism underlying the Patriot Act. Bush clearly intends to play to his base—big money, self-satisfied corporate CEOs, Christian ideologues, pro-lifers—with an economic policy that has a libertarian bent and a foreign policy which glosses over Iraq, declaring the war is over and we won.