Real Straight Talker?

“You’re entitled to not agree with me, but you will know
what I stand for and you will not get politician double-talk”

MSNBC tell us that they have got hold of a galley-proof of a memoir by Bob Shrum, one of John’s former political consultants.

Conveniently, Bob confesses that it was his fault that John voted for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.

And we simple working men and women are supposed to believe that this galley-proof just dropped into MSNBC’s lap…?

John. Bless your heart. Reality check.

Inviting a former adviser to fall on the sword is not perceived by ordinary working men and women as an act of political courage.

Regular folk do not expect a straight talker to slip around in the shadows and get books leaked, just to help him with his polling figures.

The worst part, John, is that the book doesn’t actually help you. Not only was its leaking naked political calculation – which you pretend to eschew. It was bad political calculation.

Far from helping you, the book actually undermines your claim to have (naturally) heightened levels of political testosterone. Bob thinks he’s doing you a favor with his ‘candor.’ And you obviously think so too. But in truth, both the book and its leaking are helping to dig you a grave.

Bob writes that he regrets advising you to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. He says that if you had followed your instincts, instead of the advice of political professionals, you would have been a stronger presidential candidate in 2004.

This doesn’t tell us, John, that you are a man of steely conviction, prepared to stand your ground no matter what. Rather, it seems to suggest political weakness and calculation – which you keep telling us you reject.

Now, your spokesman, David Ginsberg, has done his best to dispute the suggestion that you were making a political calculation with the vote that you have called the most important of your career:

“John Edwards cast his vote based on the advice of national security advisers and the intelligence he was given, not political advisers,” David has said. “He got political advice on both sides of the argument, and made his own decision based on what he thought was right, not political calculation.”

Bob disagrees. He writes that you called your foreign policy and political advisers together in your Washington living room in the fall of 2002 to get their advice. You were “skeptical, even exercised” about the idea of voting yes, and Elizabeth was forcefully against it, according to Bob.

But Bob says the consensus among the advisers was that, after just four years in office, you did not have the credibility to vote against the resolution and had to support it to be taken seriously on national security.

Um. John. That’s called basing a national security decision on political calculation.

Far from helping you, this whole contrived episode serves only to suggest that you have no conviction; you are the prisoner of political calculation; and that you change your mind whenever the political wind demands it.

Plus, if we really want to know who the ‘real’ you is on any given day, there’s no point in asking you – what we need to do is take a straw poll of your family and advisers…I know…ouch…but I tell it like I see it…and I only do it because I care…

John, I will say it again: I want so very badly to believe that you are ‘real,’ because I want so very badly to believe that the 50 million people who fall below the poverty line in this country finally have a ‘real’ champion.

You have tied the credibility of their plight to your own political credibility. If people come to believe that you are not ‘real,’ then they will also conclude that there is no ‘real’ poverty problem.

When you say you are one thing, but are proven to be another, that disconnect damages you credibility – and it hurts poor people.

When you say we will know what you stand for, but your beliefs keep changing, that damages your credibility – and it hurts poor people.

When you say we will get no politician double-talk, but that’s all you dish up, then that damages your credibility – and it hurts poor people.

Even after forty years, regular folk still feel the authenticity of Robert Kennedy – and he came with a lot more baggage than you do, John.

But the baggage didn’t matter. What people remember is that Robert Kennedy had true political courage. He took risks. He crossed lines. And he didn’t care about the consequences. He did what was right. Because it was right. And damn the consequences.

There wasn’t a hint of contrivance or calculation in his looks, his policies, his speeches, his strategy or his tactics.

Frankly, John, if you are to overcome the credibility chasm that your advisers have opened for you, then you need visibly to start taking risks. You need to find a line to cross. To appear really authentic.

You claim to speak for 50 million people who do not know about living the lifestyle you have created for yourself – commendably. They know only about surviving, day-to-day.

If you want to bring those in poverty along with you – if you really do – then they need to see that you are prepared to risk your plans, your comfortable lifestyle, your political ambitions. To stand by them. They need to see you cross a political line, over which you can not return.

Otherwise, all they will see is someone whose political credo is based on political self-interest – not political courage or honesty. All they will see is political calculation. And they will not put their lives, let alone their votes, in your hands.

John, if you want to be a champion of the poor, then you need to be a warrior, not a politician. If you want working folk to see the warrior, and not the politician, then you need to get away from the Hollywood Campaign that has you trapped.

Convince us, John. Before it is too late. And if I can help you…well…the invitation to engage in some ‘real’ straight talk in a ‘real’ radio interview continues to be open.

Published in: on March 13, 2007 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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