According to an article by Sinead Carew of Reuters, on Thursday, April 3rd, John Edwards closed the book on the presidential chapter of his life. After delivering a speech to the big fish of the nation’s wireless industry, Edwards was asked point blank by someone in the audience whether or not he would accept the VP slot on either the Clinton or Obama ticket.
Edwards’ answer? A succinct, but emphatic “no.” He’s done. John Edwards, the one-time trial lawyer, the one-term Senator from North Carolina, has finally come to grips with his fate—perhaps he’s just not meant to be president.
As a supporter of his, I am certainly disappointed, perhaps almost more so than Senator Edwards himself, that his shot, his chances and his dream of sitting in the Oval Office are done. I liked Edwards in 2004, but didn’t think he could win nomination with only one term in the Senate. But his eloquence and vision, personal character and focal issues drew me towards the end, when it was already too late for him to win. When John Kerry, the eventual nominee put Edwards on the ticket, I was hopeful that the inspirational and eloquent young politician would get his own shot in eight years.
Then Kerry went and absolutely blew it by windsurfing instead of laying the smackdown on the swiftboaters. Then he blew it some more by forcing every speaker at the convention to not point out the negatives of George W. Bush. Hmm…interesting strategy: you want to replace the unqualified man in office, but nobody gets to say why he’s unqualified. Brilliant. I wonder why no one’s tried it before…
I was glad to see Edwards attempt another run in 08. For a total unknown in 04, he almost snatched the nomination away from Kerry. And since then, many from the nner circle of Bush’s political team have admitted that they were most worried about a head to head campaign against Edwards because they felt Edwards could actually garner enough support and following to boot W out of office.
Given this, it’s truly unfortunate that 2008 turned out to the year of the rock stars in the Democratic Party. Who, especially a southern white man, can compete with the first viable female candidate as well as the first viable African-American candidate? Maybe if it had been only one of the two, Edwards would have had a legitimate shot. But both a woman and an African American in the same year? Well, ask Joe Biden, ask Chris Dodd; and even go ahead and ask Dennis Kucinich how it felt to step into the octagon with those two and their free, ogling media coverage.
You might even want to ask Evan Bayh of Indiana, who didn’t even bother joining the race because he saw the feminine and black writing on the wall.
So, as it has been with Biden, Dodd, even Richardson (a very viable Latino candidate), Edwards’ hopes to occupy the White House must now be placed in a cardboard box, lugged out back and tossed on the upper shelf of the garage to collect dust.
Though as a supporter, I won’t personally get to see John Edwards sworn in and be president, all of this might be for the better. Edwards wouldn’t make a very good vice president. At least not to the two candidates running right now. The reasons, are exactly the same as to why he wasn’t a very good second on the Kerry ticket.
Let’s face it—Edwards was Obama before Obama was Obama. In 2004, Edwards was seen as the young upstart with tons of charisma and potential. When he was placed on the Kerry ticket, he outshone Kerry at every turn. So instead of truly putting Edwards to work and letting him shine, the Kerry campaign sent Edwards to rural county fairs where he helped transport pumpkins before Halloween. Edwards essentially became a victim of his own success. He was too good, too charismatic, and just too big a lid for Kerry’s pot. He couldn’t be fully and properly utilized without voters wondering why he wasn’t the top of the ticket.
Today, it is just as well that he won’t accept number two again. The same problems would still exist. He would do to/be everything to Hillary that he did/was to Kerry. He would outshine her, out charm her, and his constant focus on the plight of the poor and on equity of life would only serve as a sparkling foil to Clinton’s big-money connections, free-trade/NAFTA decisions and the fact that she looks and feels like a Washington insider who lives and breathes K Street.
And with Obama, well, frankly, Obama doesn’t need Edwards as two eloquent, visionary charmers on one ticket is just redundant. It would be like the Republicans putting up two bearish, self-righteous, geriatric curmudgeons. It would be like a John McCain/Bob Dole ticket. Who really wants to see that?
But let’s not turn this into a pity party for John Edwards. I think this is a painful and disappointing decision for him to be sure, but I also believe that it is a wise and useful one. At this point, being Vice President would actually diminish Edwards. It would handcuff him and unnecessarily bottle his talents. Being VP would put him in a position to do nothing but sit behind the president during State of the Unions for eight years. Hillary would have nothing for him to do; besides, we all know Hillary would use her husband as the phantom VP, pushing the elected VP into the shadows of government.
I think that Edwards, deep down, wants the Attorney General job. That’s still a high-level cabinet position and would in fact put him in the public eye much more than being VP. As VP to either Clinton or Obama, he would literally disappear from sight and mind within three months. As AG, especially with the current climate and state of this nation, he would be front and center, in the spotlight as he rectifies and redresses all the ills Alberto Gonzales and the rest of the Bush Madminstration has done.
Edwards would garner, not just general attention, but public credit and media recognition for tackling and restoring Bush’s bloodied civil liberties and totally disfigured Constitution.
In the end, by turning down the vice presidency, he may actually be turning on a much better shot at being president.