P.P.S.: A NYT piece portrays Edwards as desperately running against the clock, and he was eclipsed at the recent Jefferson-Jackson dinner by Obama. He's disrupting the MSM's preferred Obama vs. Hillary storyline. But he's by no means in a bad position. Data points: a) a close second in Iowa in the latest CBS/NYT poll; b) steadily rising in Rasmussen's national poll; c) This troubling quote from an Iowa county chairman in Joe Klein's Hillary piece:
They love Obama. He's very inspiring. But in the end, Iowans vote on electability. I hate to say it, but my guess is they'll vote for the white guy — Edwards — this time, just like they voted for the war hero last time."
Right, last time. Dems rely on the good sense of Iowa caucusers at their peril. ...
I bristled at Chris Matthews' breathless pumping up of Obama's Jefferson-Jackson speech on MSNBC yesterday. Then I read it. It's a very skillful speech in that Obama simultaneously does three seemingly contradictory things:
1) Portrays himself as a "real" Democrat. ("Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we're worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won't do.")
2) Portray's himself as a bipartisan bridge-builder! ("I expanded health care in Illinois by bringing Democrats and Republicans together." ... "I don't want to pit Red America against Blue America. I want to be the President of the United States of America.")
3) Portrays himself as a brave truthteller willing to tell voters "what they need to hear" as opposed to "what they want to hear"--to deliver the "bitter medicine" (as columnist Roger Simon put it on Hardball) ...
Of course, Obama gives no examples of #3--in fact, he's telling Iowa caucus Democrats more or less exactly what they want to hear, namely that they don't have to compromise (#1). He's certainly not telling them that the way to be a bipartisan bridge-builder (#2) is often precisely to violate #1 and "triangulate," as Bill Clinton did on welfare reform. ...
Obama's new wrinkle is the argument is that Bush is so unpopular he's freed up a bunch of voters at the center for Dems to capture without triangulating. That may be true on universal health care coverage (where Obama's plan arguably triangulates a bit more than Clinton's plan). But I'm not sure where else it applies. At bottom, it still seems a variation of Shrumian populism, the idea that there are obvious answers to benefit the common man and the only thing standing in the way is some elite group or "corporate lobbyists in Washington"--as opposed to the non-populist position, which is that there are answers that benefit the common man but what's standing in the way is usually a) the common man and b) poweful interest groups on the Democratic as well as Republican side. If our most difficult domestic problems (Social Security, health care cost control, poverty, civil rights, immigration) really did conform to the Populist model, they'd have been solved by now, by Democrats. ...
TODAY IN SLATE
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.