Monday, March 28, 2005

Johnny, where are ye now?

As Matt and Ezra argue about whether Howard Dean should be appearing in public to bash privatization, I can't help but think about the man I wish was in position to be the public face of this fight.



He's an excellent speaker. He can stay on message and express complex messages in simple terms. He has more populist cred than anybody on the national scene. Bread-and-butter issues are his bread and butter. I imagine him following Bush from city to city, stalking the handpicked-crowd Social Security Privatization tour, drawing bigger audiences and turning every Bush appearance into a disaster for the privateers. But instead he's bumming around Chapel Hill, listening to small-time indie bands and running through the menu of Ye Olde Waffle Shop.* So I guess I'll have to wait until 2007 or so to see him actually do anything.

*Actually, he's starting the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at UNC Law School. But as an academic who can only dream of the politician's power to generate better short-term outcomes, it's frustrating to watch John Edwards slide, however temporarily, into my ineffectual world.

5 comments:

Justin said...

I happened to be in Durham this week, and on the local news I saw Edwards give a (local) interview mostly regarding the Schiavo case (it may have partly been on other stuff too, prior to when I actually tuned in).

Here's a question for you: do you think Edwards lost some luster by being the VP nominee? This isn't a question as to whether his political status *should* have dropped, it's only a question as to whether it actually did. After the Democratic primaries, Edwards sort of had the feel of the candidate people really wanted, but for pragmatic considerations telling against him (maybe ala Reagan '76). If that had been the last we had seen of him, then I suspect there would be a real excitement for him running in '08. But, b/c he was running for VP, and maybe b/c he didn't really seem to help Kerry much (in the sense that he didn't bring in any Southern states), I myself don't feel quite the same excitement for him that I once did. Does this worry you?

Neil Sinhababu said...

As far as winning the primary goes, there are tradeoffs at work here. The Deaniacs will dis Edwards for his association with Kerry's failure, and support Feingold or somebody else in '08. But Edwards got a name recognition boost out of the thing, which will mark him as one of the top contenders, even against Hillary if she runs. On one hand, he isn't the same promising mystery wonder candidate he would've been. On the other hand, he's inescapably one of the big players now.

Looking forward to the general election, I think nothing was lost. Edwards didn't say anything flagrantly dumb during the entire election, and he had the best favorability numbers of all 4 all the way through. I think he's well-defined enough in the public eye by now that there's really no way to seriously change opinions about his character anymore.

As far as predicting anything from Edwards' involvement in the 2004 election goes, there was way too much going on in the election for anyone to seriously care who the VP candidates were.

Sharita said...

I'm very selfish and thrilled that Johnny is at UNC :)
Alas, I really don't think Feingold will run in '08. Last time I asked, he seemed pretty against the idea. Damn wives. Ruin everything.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Your comment suggests that you asked Russ Feingold! Is this the case?

This sounds like a man who's running:

"Talking at length about his political plans and the future of his party, Sen. Russ Feingold said he would consider running for president in 2008 if there is enough encouragement and interest from Democrats and if he thinks he has a real shot at winning the nomination."

Sharita said...

It was last year at a town hall meeting in Oshkosh, my home town. But that's a year ago so maybe things have changed...I just don't want to get my hopes up too high because the disapointment would be crushing.