Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On MSNBC's "Super Tuesday" coverage this afternoon, Tucker Carlson, discussing Fidel Castro with Patrick J. Buchanan, derided the Cuban dictator as "almost as far left" as John Edwards, whom he said "could win an election- in Latin America." (quotes may not be exact, but are identical in essence).

This is what is left of Communist to Tucker Carlson: ensuring that the government not impinge on an individual's reproductive freedom; protection of Social Security benefits; a trade policy with protection for labor and the environment; adoption of spousal benefits for gay people, though not the legalization of gay marriage; universal health care and a health care system responsive to the needs of individuals and families, rather than to drug and insurance companies; recognition of global warming and protection of the environment; opposition to reparations for slavery (CNN/YouTube debate, 7/23/07); shifting the burden of taxation from the middle class to the upper class; ending the Iraq war as soon as possible. (Ironically, moments earlier, Carlson and Buchanan were agreeing that a gradual withdrawal would endanger the remaining American troops.)

Say, for the sake of argument, that Edwards is as much a leftist as Buchanan is a rightist or Carlson a silly libertarian. Would the former North Carolina Senator have no chance if nominated? Consider the Presidential elections of 1976, 1980, 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000* (every mention of that election must come with an asterisk), and 20004- seven (7) of the last eight (8) elections. What do these elections have in common? The Presidency was won by the major-party candidate further from the ideological center. Jimmy Carter was a liberal back when liberals were not required to call themselves "progressive;" Ronald Wilson Reagan was very conservative, as Repubs continually remind us; supporters of Bill Clinton, father of an income tax increase that helped bring the longest peacetime economic expansion in American history, touted him as "centrist" (endearing him to the media) and "progressive" (i.e., liberal); and George W. Bush is clearly to the right of Ronald Reagan, though many conservatives (including Tucker Carlson), recognizing a failed Presidency, have labored to claim otherwise.

John Edwards is an underdog in the Democratic nomination race and would face vicious attacks (which, as the Clinton camp, points out, any nominee would face) from the Repubs. However, it would be fascinating to have a campaingn in which a Democratic nominee actually runs as a populist supporting the middle class, as reflected by Edwards' statement at the Livestrong Presidential Cancer Forum on 8/27/06: "If you give drug companies and insurance compies and their lobbyists a seat at the table, they'll eat all the food...We have to confront them head on, fight them,and bring about the change we need for universal health care."

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