Michael Totten

Edwards or Bush

All Democrats All the Time is the new nightly news fixation. (I’ll take it over All Michael Jackson any day.) I’ve spent more time watching Democratic candidates for president on television in the past few days than in the previous two months combined.
John Edwards impresses me. He’s Bill Clinton without the sleaze. (At one point Bill Clinton was also Bill Clinton without the sleaze, but I see no reason to believe Edwards will follow him down.) He’s smart, articulate, decent, and convincing. It helps that my own views line up with his rather nicely. But I also actually like him. I rarely like politicians as people even when I like what they say and do.
It’s also nice that Edwards is the only one, aside from Joe Lieberman, who doesn’t come across like a hectoring leftist. He doesn’t wallow in Bush-hatred, nor does he attack the other candidates. He is optimistic, cheery, and focused on the future instead of the past.
He hardly utters a peep about foreign policy. And I think I know why. His authentic hawkishness is a liability in the primary. Maybe this will change if Joe Lieberman drops out and he can run as the only real liberal hawk in the bunch. But for now he sticks to other subjects. That is probably wise.
He’s not a cipher on foreign policy, though. In September 2002 he wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post about the problem of Saddam Hussein. All hawks should read this and know where he stands. A year and a half later, he’ll still earn my vote for this as long as he doesn’t backpedal.
As for the rest of them:
I don’t particularly like Joe Lieberman. His sanctimonious moralizing is just too much. I’d take him over Bush even so. Not that it matters. He has little chance of winning the primary. He’s a protest vote.
John Kerry, for the most part, is a decent and reasonable man. I don’t loathe him and I doubt I ever could or will. He would be preferable to Bush in many ways. (The fact that he’s a so-called “Massachusetts liberal” is not a big deal for me.) Still, the only foreign policy ideas I’ve heard from his mouth can be boiled down to Bush lied and Bush was rude to France. I’m not getting behind anyone who thinks that’s a defense policy.
Kerry will earn credibility if he can address this problem seriously. But he needs to convince me in my gut that he can overthrow a tyrant while Europe screams. I don’t think he can do that, but he’s more than welcome to try.
Wesley Clark is just bizarre. He seems to be trying to prove he is a Democrat, but he comes across as a man who is conforming to a caricature because he doesn’t know how to be a real one.
Howard Dean is probably toast. I’ve moved on.
Dennis Kucinich is the Pat Buchanan of the Democrats. He doesn’t help the party’s image. But he’s out of the mainstream and can’t do any real damage. I do like the fact that a goofball like him can run for president.
Al Sharpton doesn’t deserve a response.
And so. While subject to change and revision, at this point in time I tentatively support John Edwards for president. Failing an Edwards win the primary, this blog in all likelihood will plug its nose and endorse George W. Bush – for reasons of national security.
Strong arguments for others will be considered. And I reserve the right to flip-flop as needed.