Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Edwards’ actions spread phony image

May 30, 2007


Nothing is more important to a presidential candidate's success - other than being able to project oneself as a strong leader - than being viewed by the electorate and the news media as genuine.

The public, and especially reporters who have great sway in molding a candidate's public image, have little tolerance for disingenuous politicians, and, once identified as such, the label is both damaging and difficult to shed.

Unfortunately for John Edwards' White House ambitions, the former North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, seems to be doing his darnedest to make the case that he is a wee bit of a phony. Whether fairly or not, Edwards' $400 haircut, his $491,000 income from part-time work at a Wall Street hedge fund specializing in the financial techniques that he decries, and now word he collected a $55,000 speaking fee for discussing the evils of poverty raises that question.

If Edwards were a conservative, free-market Republican, that would be one thing.

But the former trial lawyer has a $30 million fortune - not including a 100-plus acre, $6 million compound on which he lives - and is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination as the champion of the poor. He decries income inequity and pledges to narrow it.

And there's the rub.

The term "limousine liberal" was coined to describe those who claimed to represent the poor but were filthy rich - generally due to inherited money - and lived a lavish lifestyle. Edwards did make his own money - his father was a mill worker - and campaigns as the defender of the poor and the powerless, which he proudly proclaims as his roots.

In a Democratic primary in which the front-runners are Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - the most serious female and black presidential candidates in U.S. history - Edwards is by almost any measure the one striking the populist chord. He sees the world through the prism of class struggle - the ordinary folks versus the wealthy few who unfairly benefit at the expense of the many.

This view is best embodied in his view of international trade. Edwards is the most critical of free-trade agreements and corporate America. He focuses on the jobs that have been lost overseas - lesser skilled positions performed more cheaply in India than Indiana - and has used this stance to curry favor with organized labor.

Edwards dismisses the argument that those trade agreements have led to cheaper products for American consumers and an offsetting increase in better-paying jobs providing more sophisticated goods and services to those in other nations with whom the United States trades.

Yet, the "man of the people" image is a tough sell when he spends $400 for a haircut, whether or not he charges it to his campaign - which Edwards originally did, then later repaid with his own money.

One prominent Democrat, who gave Edwards $1,000 earlier this year, said he was reconsidering his support. "I didn't think I was buying him two and a half haircuts." The former financial backer said the episode demonstrated Edwards' lack of judgment and a blind spot about how it would play with voters.

Then there is Edwards' stint at the Fortress Investment Group, which netted him $491,512 for part-time work. Edwards said his work there was meant to teach him about the financial markets - not bad money for a learning experience.

The Fortress Investment Group, whose employees are his largest single source of campaign funds, has made a good deal of its money setting up offshore tax havens for corporations and wealthy individuals. Edwards' campaign rhetoric decries such financial vehicles, and on the stump he pledges to eliminate them.

Lastly is the recent disclosure that Edwards was paid $55,000 by the University of California's Davis campus for a speech where he advocated removing all financial barriers for students to attend college. Presumably that means he would favor lower tuition and fees - which was the source that paid for his talk.

There is no suggestion that he has done anything illegal, but it raises the obvious issue of how genuine is John Edwards. That is not a question a presidential candidate wants in the public's mind.

- Peter A. Brown is the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute and a former editorial columnist for the Orlando Sentinel.


karensisson 11 years ago

Just a distraction. Anything to keep from discussing the issues on voters' minds.

blackwalnut 11 years ago

I'm a lot more concerned about the phony images of the candidates who flip flop on major issues depending on the direction the day's political breeze flows.

It bothers me more to see a monkey leading our country in a ten thousand dollar suit that taxpayers probably paid for.

drewfuss 11 years ago

How dare he accept money for his time! Surely none of the other candidates made any money... oh wait, that's okay as long as they don't try to address poverty. I think I will refuse my paycheck today so as not to invalidate my own views on poverty. Much better for Edwards to be poor himself... that way he could do so much more to help poor people by not being president.

Sigmund 11 years ago

Edwards is playing democratic voters like a sappy jury. Surely the peoples party can do better than this hypocrite? Kick him to the curb, he is a rank amateur. Stick with your A team, Hillary and Obama.

craigers 11 years ago

It's funny how any presidential candidate can say they are champions for the poor. Yesterday I saw Hillary talking about classes and how she wants a society of we are all in it together not a society by the few for the few. What a load of crap, but it is pretty humorous to see them all try to get the "poor" vote!

acg 11 years ago

I'm a Democrat and Edwards bothers me. He's too put together. It makes my skin crawl. When I see him smile I expect to see that cartoonish twinkle on his teeth. He reminds me of a lounge lizard for some reason, and whenever I see him speak I feel as if I need to shower. We don't need this guy in the white house! Maybe it's irrational, but it's a gut feeling I have. This one is bad news. As bad as Dubya? No, I don't think that's possible, but still no good.

bearded_gnome 11 years ago

hey, where do I sign up for that "part-time work?" there's his america, that's the hypocrisy!

this guy couldn't carry north carolina, his own state, for reelection, or for vice presidential candidate! should really say something about him.

no, didn't pull himself up by his own bootstraps, instead he profitted by the hurt and injury of others, playing the juries, as a maudlin actor. and, yes, he is in Soros' back pocket. that means all of soros's values: legalization of all drugs, global world government, etc.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 11 years ago

John Edwards looks like a male flight attendant.

craigers 11 years ago

tony88, that's not what I was saying. I just think it's funny to see any of the rich presidential candidates say they want to help the poor and know what they are going through. That's all.

However, I don't remember the guys name, but yesterday I saw on CNN that one of the presidential candidates that is wealthy said he would not take his salary if he got elected and would donate every bit of the $400,000. That at least shows some sincerity to help the poor even though he is rich. He doesn't claim to know what it's like but wants to help and donating $400K a year is a great start.

imastinker 11 years ago

scenebooster -

they weren't comparing him to GWB. They were comparing him to the other democratic candidates. Republicans are in favor of a self made man, but this guy is disgusting. He has been makign money for fortress, which is invoved in loans for people with poor credit. He probably was helping them figure out how to screw lenders so they don't fold up.

He doesn't care about poor people, just abou getting more money in his pocket.

craigers 11 years ago

tony88, sorry I didn't mean to generalize. However, the example I gave was the candidate that was going to donate the 400K as showing a good faith effort to help. In these elections we should see that most of the candidates are very wealthy people. Not saying they didn't earn it because some of them did, and good for them. However, it would be nice to see them put some actions behind their words. They say they want to help the poor by setting up these programs and that's cool too, but put your money where your mouth is. Show that you are willing to help the poor, not just use the poor as a tool to gain election. That is what I see as a problem with all presidential candidates. It seems everytime we have a presidential election we get the same talking points and why is that? Candidates get elected for what they say they are going to do but they never seem to get anything accomplished.

Kontum1972 11 years ago

Dems, Repub's, Independs...they are all liars and full of poo...! We be better off with the cosa nostra...!

right Guido?

Oracle_of_Rhode 11 years ago

George Bush is a draft-dodging Yale and Harvard man with Connecticut roots whose daddy was president, who poses a hick from the sticks with his brush-clearing dip cup routine. That makes Edwards look genuine by comparison.

Edwards can be rich while fighting for the poor. That's what FDR did. Heck, without money and rich friends, who really thinks you can make it to Congress, much less the White House? What I dislike about Edwards and, for that matter, Clinton, is that they voted to approve Bush's war in Iraq, which has been a disastrous strategic and moral defeat for America...the country I love.

Obama at least had the foresight and judgment to oppose the Iraq fiasco.

imastinker 11 years ago

Scenebooster - why do you keep bringing up republicans here? Are you afraid to discuss the issue? Everyybody knows both parties have plenty of problems.

All you are doing is putting up a smokescreen to avoid discussing the real issue, which is edwards.

Bubbles 11 years ago

What do you expect from a lawyer.

It's the american dream to 'go for the money'. Can't fault him for that.

mom_of_three 11 years ago

I think one of the biggest fakes of them all is Hiliary Clinton. Just a few weeks ago, she quoted from Harriet Tubman or Sojourner Truth, saying she wanted to lead people to the promised land, just as the Tubman or Truth did.

How low can you stoop to compare yourself to a true American hero who actually did something, when you have not?

TheHeartlessBureaucrat 11 years ago

A wealthy Presidential Candidate? I'm shocked!

Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan...c'mon guys!

Swing, batter!


gogoplata 11 years ago

Lets talk about the issues that you see as important. And which candidate would handle them the right way. Here are just a few, Iraq, Economy, Abortion, Immigration....

I like Ron Paul. The war ends, we stop spending billions supporting the war which helps the economy, he is not in bed with special interest groups, he opposes abortion, wants to enforce immigration laws and I just like a guy that doesn't think the government needs to be our mommy.

Tell me, who do you like and why?

kneejerkreaction 11 years ago

John Edwards....remember his North-Carolina-earned nickname, Senator Gone? His problem is he's just unlikeable, like a scratch on a new car. The best advice I could give John Edwards is, "look at yourself man, just look at yourself". If he really took a good look at himself, he'd quit.

kugrad 11 years ago

This is simply one of the dumbest editorials I have ever read. Pure drivel. No, I'm not some huge Edwards supporter; I just dislike attack pieces posing as rational thought. Even blowhards like Cal Thomas and George Will can write a better echo-chamber propoganda release. 100% worthless.

blackwalnut 11 years ago

John Edwards is seen as dangerous because he really is a populist. Those who want to stick with the Republican trickle-up government and economy absolutely have to destroy him. It's so transparent.

John Edwards is 100% right on the issues and that's what scares some on the right.

coneflower 11 years ago

Can't right-wingers talk about anything without reducing everything to buzzwords and stereotypes?

Obfuscation. America is onto these tactics, at last.

janeyb 11 years ago

My dad was born in 1953. He had a low draft number the year he was eligible, but they stopped the draft early that year. Missed Dad by about two months. Probably the same for Edwards. You can't dodge the draft if it doesn't exist anymore.

drewdun 11 years ago

IOKIYAR (Its okay if you're a Republican).

Making gobs of money? Okay if you have the little (R) next to your name.

Making gobs of money? If you have the little (D) next to your name, obviously hypocrisy. Because liberals hate wealth, right? Right?

Linda Endicott 11 years ago

Since Dick Cheney received FIVE deferments, bringing up Clinton's TWO doesn't make much sense, does it?

And let's not forget Bush. Maybe he never actually received a draft notice. He joined the National Guard instead, as it was a well-known fact back in those days that being in the National Guard would basically keep you from being drafted. And also back then, it was rare for the guard to be anywhere but stateside. Bush knew that by joining the guard, he would 1) not be drafted, and 2) would not actually have to face combat in any foreign country.

Unlike now, under his command, when guard units are sent to Iraq just as frequently, if not more so, than the regular military.

Bush joined the guard to avoid combat. But thanks to Bush, that no longer applies.

beatrice 11 years ago

If "Edwards is playing democratic voters like a sappy jury," hasn't Bush been doing the same to Republicans for the past 8 years?!?

"No, really folks, I'm just a farmer -- look at me at my "farm." I'm a Washington outsider, even though my daddy was f*&%^##@$ President of the United States! I don't believe in evolution -- heck, I can't even spell it. Yodidododido. "

And you people voted for him? Twice?!? Amazing. Simply amazing.

That said, the $400 haircuts bug me too.

Gore / Obama '08!

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