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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The Edwards Announcement

I promised to write on this and I'm following through, even though it now feels like a waste of time. I did see the speech (Edwards didn't take the podium until after 11 this morning, which bothered me as I waited to see him) and found it quite pedestrian. Here's the speech text. The best stuff is the part decrying Bush's "war on work", a theme Edwards has been developing over the last few months. I think that's his most promising riff with primary voters, though I can already hear allegations of "class warfare" if he gets to the general.

I'm down on Edwards lately, however, because of not just his lackluster poll numbers (which the senator himself poked fun at on Comedy Central's Daily Show last night) but also my growing conviction that the trial lawyer label will kill him. The Boston Globe yesterday had a hatchet piece on Edwards' career as a litigator, pointing out some cases of huge jury awards for personal injury that seem to defy logic and proportion. I am a solid Democrat and I was bothered by this, so you can imagine how much of a problem his history would be for Edwards facing the Republicans.

I don't like Edwards' whole "small town"/"son of a mill worker" schtick either, though I realize a lot of people like that crap. When his legal career comes up, defenders often point out that Edwards is a self-made man, which is true enough. But I don't think people will like the details of how Edwards became a multi-millionaire either. The greedy lawyer image that is so easy to affix to him does not fit with the image the campaign wants us to see in Robbins, NC, and therein lies an enormous problem. Fortunately, he won't be the nominee and we won't have to try defending the guy next fall.