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»  January 10, 2008


Edwards Swiftboats Kerry

2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry came out and endorsed Barack Obama and people are buzzing about a falling out after the 2004 election caused by his vice presidential choice John Edwards's unsuccessful attempt to convince Kerry to contest the Ohio election results.

Of course, there's another theory, which is that the falling out resulted from earlier events, which The New York Times reported in a November story about how Kerry and Edwards didn't always get along:

And there was the overshadowing issue of Iraq, a debate that brought out everything Mr. Edwards found most maddening about Mr. Kerry.

Both men had voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to go to war with Iraq; Mr. Edwards had sponsored it with Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut. In 2004, they found themselves in an impossible position: antiwar Democrats were pushing Mr. Kerry to say he would pull out troops, while Republicans were calling him a flip-flopper whenever he tried to attack Mr. Bush on the war.

Mr. Kerry had increasing doubts about the war. But Mr. Edwards argued that they should not renounce their votes — they had to show conviction and consistency.

Mr. Kerry yielded to his running mate after Mr. Bush issued a challenge in early August: would Mr. Kerry still vote the same way, knowing now that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction? Mr. Kerry told reporters he would have voted the same, but done everything else about the war differently.

The Republicans delighted in another flip-flop. Six weeks later, Mr. Kerry gave a speech at New York University declaring that he would not have voted for the war, calling it a “profound diversion” from the real threat, Osama bin Laden. Mr. Edwards had argued against the speech in a conference call into the early morning hours. While Mr. Kerry was hailed for showing resolve, the campaign never fully recovered from the accusation that the Democratic presidential candidate — unlike Mr. Bush — did not know what he stood for.

The same article mentions Edwards's reluctance to play the attack dog for the ticket (in addition to Kerry's refusal to contest Ohio). The "yielding" mentioned in the article took place in early August. Attack ads from the Swiftboat Veterans and POWs for Truth began in the middle of the month. From the same article:
At the Democratic convention in late July, Mr. Kerry’s advisers encouraged Mr. Edwards to reprise his theme of the primaries, a pledge to bridge the gap between two Americas, one rich, one struggling. Preaching "the politics of hope," Mr. Edwards mocked the negative campaigning the Republicans were sure to deliver: "Don’t you just hate it?"

But the convention was barely over when the attacks began, starting with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accusing Mr. Kerry of lying about his military record. Kerry aides complained that Mr. Edwards would resist or try to tone down language when they asked him to deliver negative lines — "pundit lines," as one of Mr. Edwards’s aides scoffed. He argued it was more important to talk about what the Democrats would do differently rather than what the Republicans had done wrong.

He objected to anything more than the most generic attacks on the Bush administration. After weeks of battering by the Swift boat group, he called only for the president to "stop these ads." When Mr. Cheney said voting for the Democrats would invite a terror attack, Mr. Edwards called it "un-American."

Now, if it was me, I might not want to endorse the guy I'd let talk me into staying the course on Iraq while I was trying to win an election. Particularly if that guy renounced the Iraq war himself a year later. It's an old story. George McGovern actually voted for Gerald Ford and Bob Dole over Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, four years after Carter had been involved with efforts to thwart what should have been a settled nomination at the 1972 Democratic convention (although he says it was because he knew Ford better).

Personally, I'm still waiting to hear an answer to my question for Edwards.

Thu Jan 10, 2008 17:44 -0800