Thursday, May 15, 2008

TPH Brief: Edwardian Politics

(A Brief) Political Hoedown

All right, John Edwards has decided. After months of wrangling, he pledged his support to Barack Obama. And the world trembled!

Or so the media would have you think.

It's simple. In the early days of primary contest, a vote for Edwards was equated to one of three things:

1) A vote for change/a progressive vote, akin to Obama's "hope" mantra; a policy vote
2) A vote for John Edwards to be the President
3) A vote against Hillary Clinton, the presumptive (at the time) nominee and representative of the "old way"

The rationale behind the Obama camp's enthusiasm for Edwards' support is two-fold: he's a former VP candidate, and therefore known and (ideally) respected by the Democratic public; he's got a lot of blue-collar, "hard working" (male) whites behind him, being a southerner and, you know...white. Since Obama has had small progress to say the least among the working-class white male, Edwards can act as a missionary to shore up (build) support in that key demographic.

Because you shouldn't be fooled by Obamians who claim that their coalition will win in the fall (Youth, academia, blacks, wealthy liberals). They need Joe Schlubb from the steel mill in November just as much as McCain will. Jesse Jackson, Jr., claimed that the working white male "swing" vote could just as easily be hispanics, women, blacks or any of the other "key demographics" bandied about. The only fallacy there is that those groups have roundly chosen their candidate and aren't budging. The blue collar Joe, largely for Hillary, is still seen as up for grabs.

So will Edwards' endorsement help? Not in the least.

It's too little, too late. If he had wanted to make a difference and block Hillary, he'd have declared before Super Tuesday or stayed in, so he could act as a kingmaker of sorts (we in the punidtry are all sad he decided to bow out, hoping for a cinematic convention where Obamians and Clintonians yell at each other while the necessary delegates to win, controlled by Edwards, waited for the right moment to strike. A missed opportunity). He doesn't help Obama with white men because the majority have already voted.

Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana - they already voted, and for Hillary. How many delegates did Edwards cost Obama by waiting? I'd argue enough to secure the nomination before May 2008.

Long/short of this is don't pay attention to Edwards. He's barely a politician and his meager 22 delegates won before dropping out prove that.


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