Obama and Clinton Endorsed Edwards Long Ago

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Jan 30, 2008 at 07:03


Now that Edwards has left the campaign, discussion of Edwards over the next couple of days will invariably be dominated by who he will endorse. However, it is worth keeping in mind that both Clinton and Obama already endorsed Edwards:

But no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, the fact remains that the Edwards campaign has set the domestic policy agenda for the entire field. He was the first with a bold universal healthcare plan, the first with an ambitious climate change proposal that called for cap-and-trade, and the leader on reforming predatory lending practices and raising the minimum wage to a level where it regains its lost purchasing power. Edwards's rhetoric has started to bleed into his rivals' speeches as well. "Too many have been invisible for too long," Clinton said in her victory speech Tuesday night. "Well, you are not invisible to me. The oil companies, the drug companies, the health insurance companies, the predatory student loan companies have had seven years of a President who stands up for them. It's time we had a President who stands up for all of you."

And:

The counterfactual of what this primary would have looked like without John Edwards creating a constant threat from the Left is a depressing one. Much more so than Obama, it's been Edwards who forced a new style of politics, untethered by the fear and timidity of the 90s, adamant that liberalism was an electoral boon and economic justice a popular sentiment. Knowing they had to defend against his challenge, both Hillary and Obama edged closer to his appeal. This left the Edwards campaign without much substance on which to distinguish itself, but it left the Democrats in a much stronger position overall, and forced them to argue for, and commit to, a much broader and more inspiring agenda than we otherwise might have seen.

And:

Top Edwards adviser Joe Trippi just confirmed to me by phone that the Hillary and Obama campaigns are already working overtime to woo Edwards to their sides -- even before his official dropout speech.

"They're banging down the doors," Trippi told me.(…)

"Look, the guy led on every single issue out there, whether it was poverty, the economy, global warming, or universal health care," Trippi said. "He moved the progressive agenda much further than any other candidate -- so much so that both Clinton and Obama adopted a lot of his language and agenda. Which is a great thing to have done."

Edwards was also the leader on telecom policy, coming out with his open media plan before Obama. He also took the lead in dumping Fox News (which both Obama and Clinton followed), and on opposing the Iraq supplemental back in May (which both Obama and Clinton followed). Just as Richardson led on residual forces, and just as Dodd led on FISA and global warming, on a whole range of issues and rhetoric, Edwards consistently pushed the field to the left during this campaign. It is indeed depressing to think about what the Clinton vs. Obama contest would have been like without him.

So, while both Clinton are actively courting his endorsement now, it should be noted that both Obama and Clinton endorsed John Edwards a long time ago. It is probably small comfort on a day like today, but John Edwards and his supporters should take heart for what they accomplished in this campaign. More than any other candidate, John Edwards made the rest of the field more progressive. Thank you Senator Edwards, an I wish you all the best.

Chris Bowers :: Obama and Clinton Endorsed Edwards Long Ago

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One thing is clear (0.00 / 0)
You need both a good message and a good messenger.  And maybe a way to get the message before the people.

Edwards was perceived as too inexperienced in 2004, and by the time the 2008 campaign rolled around, he had been outflanked on the issue of newness and change.  The time for his issues had come, but it was too late for him.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


Why I'm switching from Edwards to Obama (4.00 / 2)
"Too many have been invisible for too long," Clinton said in her victory speech Tuesday night. "Well, you are not invisible to me. The oil companies, the drug companies, the health insurance companies, the predatory student loan companies have had seven years of a President who stands up for them. It's time we had a President who stands up for all of you."

Obama's got his problems, but I just can't help but feel like he's somehow less cynically manipulative than Clinton.  The quote by Clinton above was really good--the problem is that she hasn't been consistent about it.  I remember at YearlyKos last year when she had that jaw-dropping quote about how lobbyists are people too and they deserve to have their say and so forth.  I remember thinking that it displayed her intellectual corruption and the utter bankruptcy of her ideology, but that it was refreshingly candid for someone who is usually--you guessed it--cynically manipulative.  I guess I was right to revel in that unique moment.

Manipulative rhetoric, timid policies, hair-splitting.  Clinton is the embodiment of everything I hate in our party.  I mean, change through experience?  Huh?  Obama may not get it right on Reagan or lobbyists or health care, but at least he doesn't embody the baser side of our party like Clinton's Democratic Mr. Hyde.

Yes we Kang


He did get it right. (0.00 / 0)
Obama got it exactly right on Reagan, certain myopic lefties to the contrary. He said Reagan changed the course of the US. Do you really have an argument on that?

[ Parent ]
My bad (4.00 / 2)
I should have provided a link for the Reagan remark, which looks too off-handed in retrospect.  I assumed that since there had been a robust discussion of that little debacle on this very site I could get away with it.

To wit, from Stoller's posting a couple weeks ago:

There are many reason progressives should admire Ronald Reagan, politically speaking.  He realigned the country around his vision, he brought into power a new movement that created conservative change, and he was an extremely skilled politician.  But that is not why Obama admires Reagan.  Obama admires Reagan because he agrees with Reagan's basic frame that the 1960s and 1970s were full of 'excesses' and that government had grown large and unaccountable.

Those excesses, of course, were feminism, the consumer rights movement, the civil rights movement, the environmental movement, and the antiwar movement.  The libertarian anti-government ideology of an unaccountable large liberal government was designed by ideological conservatives to take advantage of the backlash against these 'excesses'.

It is extremely disturbing to hear, not that Obama admires Reagan, but why he does so.  Reagan was not a sunny optimist pushing dynamic entrepreneurship, but a savvy politician using a civil rights backlash to catapult conservatives to power.


Needless to say, those "excesses" are actually vital achievements to progressives.  That kind of statement therefore means that, from a progressive perspective, Obama got Reagan exactly wrong.

Yes we Kang

[ Parent ]
Yes, this is extremely troubling (0.00 / 0)
and I hope that Edwards takes this into account if he decides to endorse. Both remaining candidates are extremely flawed--so bummed Edwards can't make a go of it.

[ Parent ]
Stoller's bad (4.00 / 1)
Stoller's interpretation of what Obama meant hardly constitutes proof of anything. For one thing, admiring Reagan for attacking feminism, the consumer rights movement, the civil rights movement, the environmental movement, and the antiwar movement would mean Obama, too, would like to roll all those achievement back. Is that really what you think? That Obama is talking the talk on Iraq, health care, etc, while secretly plotting to end medicare, civil rights, and all the rest?

I've been as all-out in my support of Edwards as anyone, but Stoller's tinfoil-hat psychedelic twist on Obama is a great example of what makes the left keep losing.


[ Parent ]
The problem is that Obama won't clarify (4.00 / 1)
exactly what he meant by those comments; he won't say whether he admired Reagan's policies or just the fact that he was able to change the course of government.  We all assume that Obama is shrewd and said it to bring in disenchanted Republicans and Independents...but the problem with Obama is that we really don't know--we ALL have to interpret the statement.  We say "of course he meant..." or "I hope that he meant something other than his comment" implied.

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but it is still troubling.


[ Parent ]
THAT'S What Obama Admires About Reagan (0.00 / 0)
Being slippery as an eel, while being admired for your bold, upright stand.

Who could ask for anything more?

This post is:

    (A) 100% snark
    (B) 50% snark
    (C) 100% true
    (D) A and C


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I'll take "B" for $25, Sir (0.00 / 0)
And, I concur with your 50%. As I said somewhere else on this thread, it appears to be a similar tactic used to get the Christian vote by Rove/Bush. I don't think, if Obama is truly the progressive he espouses to be, that he would align with Reagan in admiration...just doesn't seem plausible to me ideologically.

[ Parent ]
We went through this already. (4.00 / 1)
Obama said that Reagan crystalized the feelings of those who thought the '60s and '70s had been a time of axcess.  He is correct in this.  What he said had to do with embodying a Zeitgeist, not whether those particualr feelings were right or not, and he's been clear he didn't like Reagan's ideas.  It ill behooves those who think we should emulate the GOP attack machine to criticize someone who makes a somewhat similar observation about the success of another GOP institution.  Obama simply did not say the things that matt attributed to him and several of us refuted that.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Not the whole story (4.00 / 3)
Come on - you know that's not all Obama said. If he'd just said that Reagan changed the course of U.S. history, nobody would object because it would be trivially, almost tautologically true.

His comments seemed to imply - and here there can be reasonable disagreement, I think, about what he really meant to convey - that Reagan was not only a force for change but that there was some merit to the changes he tried to bring about.

For instances, Obama referred to the "excesses" of the federal government. Since this is an evaluative term, he can't really claim that he was just neutrally describing the facts. To say that Reagan was a reaction to the excesses of the federal government is to agree that there were, in fact, such "excesses," which is not an empirical claim but a normative one.

Now, it's possible that Obama *meant* something else; he might have meant something like "perceived excesses" and was just sloppy with his language, which is no great sin. But his remarks seemed to imply a (relatively and partially) favorable evaluation of Reagan's ideology, which was what worried some. And more to the point, it's telling that Obama has positioned himself in such a way that he wasn't necessarily given the benefit of the doubt on this. That is, his remarks were ambiguous, but it seemed plausible, at least, that he indeed meant to compliment Reagan. So we ask: why do so many find it plausible that Obama feels this way?


[ Parent ]
Equating Dems with the GOP (0.00 / 0)
in "excesses" and "old conflicts" is what chaps me about Obama's rhetoric. This is patently wrong in my opinion, and is a major sticking point.  The Reagan presidency was a disaster economically, domestically, foreign-policy wise, and had repurcussions that lasted 20 or more years.  Bill Clinton corrected much of what happened during the Reagan years, but...

Why Obama aligns himself with Reagan can only be for one reason: votes.  I think it's in the same league as Bush/Rove appealing to the Christian vote, to tell the truth.  No judgment here on that, but interesting nonetheless.


[ Parent ]
Obama didn't say there were excesses (0.00 / 0)
He said that people (those who became Reagan Demnocrats) ,b>thought that way and in this he is correct, whether or not those persons were themselves correct or not.  And anyone who doesn't think the Dem party became a bit complacent and overreliant on interest group politics either missed the late '70s, '80s and '90s and/or didn't understand Kos' book "Crashing the Gates."

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Make 'em pay (4.00 / 3)
I hope Edwards uses his last remaining leverage, an endorsement, to wring open commitments to progressive change from both of them. Don't make it easy or low-cost.

Can't say I'm looking forward to the bland politics and intense personal sniping that wil almost certainly define the remainder of the primary season. Gods forbid they should actually do their jobs and demonstrate to us how they'd stomp the Bushies and the Republican Party into the ground. But they get better press doing that to each other.


Excellent post (0.00 / 0)
It's great to hear that both candidates are savvy enough to want Edwards on their side, and I hope he takes one or the other up on an administrative position (please John change your mind about VP!), or a high cabinet position. He truly is the heart and soul of the Democratic campaign.

This is certainly better than matt's earllier.... (4.00 / 3)
"Edwards did some good" post.

Edwards defined the progressive landscape in this race. On poverty, health care, inequality, corporate control of gov't. and even Iraq, Edwards was out there digging the terrain the others would respond to.

It is a damn shame that this site and others really didn't recognize what Edwards stood for and continued to keep him at arm's length. It is OUR loss that he has suspended his campaign. And now he will not be a tempering force on the other campaigns. It's about to get much UGLIER and DIRTIER, with a pastiche of niceness on the surface.

The progressive left blew it on this one.


Yes` (0.00 / 0)
The campaign will be the poorer without him. (Though I must note that Kucinich also helped define the probressive landscape.) Even though Edwards's written policy positions were not so different from the others, he came to them from a truly left/liberal direction. His effect was more about a whole view of how things work than about promises on health care, international relations, etc. I think that's the main reason he was given short shrift by both the MSM and the lefty establishment, which is pathetically tone-deaf when it comes to context.

The thing that struck me most in the Edwards campaign was when he dared to question the whole "war on terror" construction and pointed out that Sept 11 and its aftermath would be more effectively handled as a criminal act than an act of war. To me, this was maybe the most amazingly insightful and gutsy campaign statement in decades. I'm bitterly sorry he couldn't have stayed around longer.


[ Parent ]
Unfortunate side effect of going first... (4.00 / 1)
Edwards unfortunately led the discussion when he probably should have waited.  When he was first to the post with a lot substantial policy positions, the blogs and activists gave a collective yawn for the most part.  It was nice, but it was pretty weak by most accounts I read and I quickly passed Edwards by and waited to see who else was in and what they proposed. Obama looked to have a ton of energy and momentum and I felt a palpable tension in the blogs waiting for Obama to wow us with a great platform.  The fact that Clinton's policies all seemed a little more centric than Edwards's wasn't too great a surprise, but when Obama then seemed to offer even less than Clinton, I felt the winds go out of the sails on a lot of blogs.  If Edwards had held back and waited for Clinton and Obama to disappoint he could have stepped in with his policies that would have seemed wonderful and even possible, especially with Kucinich defining the left wing.

I am amazed at how few of the major blogs have yet to endorse a candidate.  While I agree that most bloggers don't feel they really have any votes to deliver by their endorsements, they are all quick to take sides on every other issue.  They all started talking about how great the field was for the Democrats, but as the policies started leaking out I get the sense that a lot of bloggers just didn't find any of the candidates worthy of endorsement.

I don't blame the netroot leaders.  I think most progressives were waiting for their savior and we just didn't realize that Edwards was the best choice until it was too late. Once the narratives had settled in and the opportunity to use blogs to keep ahead of the media was lost, Edwards's candidacy lost what little hope it had of creating any momentum besides a big win in Iowa.


[ Parent ]
Left vs. right frame is wrong..... (0.00 / 0)
on so many levels. (and it's one problem with the name of this site). This is about elitist control of gov't. and corporate pandering by those leaders to the point of government being a tool of corporate powers shaping policy on trade, war, fiscal policy (even the "stimulus"), etc.

The "confusion" over who will benefit from Edwards dropping out reflects the fact it is not an ideological left-right linear world any more. It is a bi-conceptual world. Edwards straddled both left-right. It is one reason he would be the best candidate going against either Romney, the corporate shill, or McCain, the conservative elite insider.

Get the frame right!!


Right Frame, You're In The Wrong Game (4.00 / 1)
The left has always been on the side of the little guy.  The right has always tried to obscure that, because if they don't they're toast.

Thanks for giving them a hand.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
But who controls the frame (0.00 / 0)
You're missing IndySteve's point. The corporate media knows it needs the "right vs. left" frame in order to keep their narrative alive and draw audiences that keep advertisers happy. But when it comes down to governing, the left vs. right frame has to morph into "bipartisanship" that reinforces the wishes of the corporate ruling class. So in reality, the "little guy" doesn't get represented by anyone. Edwards was the only candidate in the Dem primary that dared to brake through the traditional narrative to point out that corporate power is the puppeteer behind the curtain in our national political dialog. Attacking  the ruling elite from both the left and the right is legitimate. Huckabee and Paul are doing it in the Republican race (though, don't get me wrong, I don't support these candidates). And now it looks like none of these three will figure in the final outcome.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
True But Secondary (0.00 / 0)
You break through by talking about specifics, not by attacking a frame that has powerful seeds of truth in it.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Specifics (0.00 / 0)
In regards to Edwards and his campaign, I found these arguments to be rather specific:
* Tax policies should reward work over wealth
* Our government should ask us to be patriotic about something other than war
* The "global war on terror" is a bumper sticker campaign for national security
Our corporate run media is dumbfounded by arguments like these because they don't fit into the right vs. left frame. And apparently, many Democrats are dumbfounded by them as well. No, it's going to take more than "specifics" to transcend the current frame for political dialog in our country. That's what the legacy of the Edwards campaign, unfortunately, is yielding.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
What??? (0.00 / 0)
* Tax policies should reward work over wealth...

Our corporate run media is dumbfounded by arguments like these because they don't fit into the right vs. left frame.

That's a classic argument from the left.  I'm dumbfounded that you don't realize that.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
True, true (0.00 / 0)
But then why would Huckabee use the identical argument, and use it effectively BTW, on the right?

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
Because, Conservatives Are More Liberal Than They Realize (0.00 / 0)
I've written about this repeatedly.  Conservative support for social spending has been documented explicitly at least since 1967.

This isn't the puzzling thing.  The puzzling thing is that Christians can be conservative in the first place.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Puzzling, yes (0.00 / 0)
But the connection comes from the sense of self-righteousness that fervently religious people and the conservative political establishment share. They both believe that power is "their due." Now I'm meandering off topic, but I appreciate what you've written about the necessity of left-right polarity in political discourse. I'm just not always persuaded by it.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
Actually, they ALL endorsed Kerry's ideas (0.00 / 0)
Remember a few things:

Kerry's health care plan from '04 was what all the 2008 candidates built on.

Kerry talked about "Energy Independence" in '04, and was already leading on global climate change in the Senate by early '07.  I hear that talk coming from all of the candidates now, including laughably, the Republican candidates.

Every single last candidate borrowed from the Kerry/Feingold Iraq plan of June '06.  That is the plan Obama and Hillary voted against, and Edwards didn't speak in favor of at the time.  Kerry caught hell for that plan at the time, now even the DLC is for it.

The way Kerry talked about Afghanistan and diplomacy in '04 is part of the greatest hits for all of the '08 candidates.

Edwards's niche was poverty and against corporations and lobbyists.  The rhetoric certainly was different this time.  But in the end, what matters were the plans, which I think were similar to Kerry's in '04 and when he was thinking of running in '08.

So, you know -- credit where credit's due.


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