Wednesday, January 30, 2008


"Congress is spending money faster than John Edwards in the beauty parlor." (Mike Huckabee)

"His detractors called him 'The Breck Girl.'" (From MSNBC)

Note: An addition to this column, about Sarah Palin, is at the end.

When John Edwards was on "The Letterman Show" recently, the host messed up his hair. Edwards flashed his usual "Crest Toothpaste" smile, but he was obviously not pleased by Letterman's actions.

Because of his $400 coif in California, Edwards, the "poverty candidate," will forevermore be known as The Haircut Man. How many poor people would $400 have fed? How many doctors' visits would it have paid for? Obviously, Edwards is not a man with a strong sense of irony.

Edwards was a very successful trial lawyer. In that role, he apparently took his full cut of the settlement money, approximately 40% (plus expenses). His personal fortune is estimated at a comfortable $20 million.

Last summer, after Edwards found out that his wife Elizabeth had terminal breast cancer, he announced that he would continue the campaign. He made the announcement at his new home in beautiful Chapel Hill, NC. The home is reportedly 28,000 square feet, big enough to contain a standard-sized basketball court.

Nearly a century ago the sociologist Thorsten Veblen talked about the "sheer vulgar fatness of great wealth." Thorsten Veblen, meet John and Elizabeth Edwards. A 28,000 square foot home is big enough to house most of the very poor people in a small city.

Edwards' explanation for the hair cut and the house is that his father was a "mill worker." Actually, for the time and place his dad had a decent job. Presumably, he had no aspirations to build a Vanderbilt-sized mansion. How many poor people would have benefited from the $5 million-plus he spent on the house?

The best way to give immediate assistance to the poor is not to run for President and make the case for a vast redistribution of wealth. Some like Bill Gates has done more to benefit people of low and modest incomes than John Edwards could do if he were elected President-for-life.

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, "No one can plumb the mysteries of a human heart." That said, my own belief is that Edwards used his wife's illness for political purposes. Apparently, he gained more than his share of sympathy votes. He should be ashamed, and so should his wife.

The "game" they played is one highlighted in the book Games People Play. It's called the wooden-leg ploy. In it, people use a disability or illness to elicit more sympathy than they deserve.

Do I believe John Edwards truly cares about poor people? I don't. If he did, he'd spend less money on himself and more on them. Perhaps he might have started a business that would employ hundreds -- or thousands -- of poor people. If he truly wanted to assist the poor, he might have stuffed every Salvation Army kettle in North Carolina.

Yes, I'm angry at John and Elizabeth Edwards, because they reek of insincerity and demagoguery. They are not as stupid as they sound. They must be aware that the greatest poverty reduction force in history is the private enterprise economy in the U.S.

Don't look for John Edwards and wife to spend the rest of their days among poor people -- in a soup kitchen, for example. When you experience a setback, it's always nice to be able to return to a 28,000 square foot house. And don't look for him to start going to the neighborhood barber shop.

Lest there be any doubt, I'm sorry Elizabeth has cancer. I'm also sorry she has to spend the rest of her days with him.


Here's an e-mail I just sent to some fellow strategists in the Draft Sarah Palin Movement:

For Sarah Palin to endorse Huckabee for President would be a major mistake. I wrote about matters vice-presidential last night and Huck would be the wrong choice for John McCain. He would also be the wrong choice for Sarah to endorse. However, if there's ever to be a remake of "Mayberry, RFD," I'd recommend Mike for a leading role.

McCain and Palin would both have very strong support from veterans and their families, groups that have never been targeted nearly as effectively as they could be. There are 26 million veterans in the U.S Sarah is not from a military family, but with Track in the infantry she is now a powerful link to military families.

I wish McCain would do some "maverick" things in naming a vice-president. Specifically, I hope he will say that this person shows many signs of not only being a great V-P but also an outstanding President. He must not accept in any sense that she is a "rookie." She is a national power and a remarkable elected official.

We all know the political "games people play," but I sure hope McCain stops playing them. His major strength is authenticity and straight talk -- one of the reasons he appeals to Independents and Democrats.

By the way, if McCain doesn't name Sarah or Mike, he might go with Charlie Crist, who is one helluva campaigner. McCain will not follow Rudy's suggest to "campaign in all 50 states." But I certainly hope he will compete in 40-42. The pure red state fixation is a razor's edge approach. McCain will be the nominee. The choice probably will be between Clinton and McCain.

Here's a piece of the article from the Fairbanks News-Miner on Gov. Palin's current thinking:

"Palin not quite ready to back candidate"
January 30, 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin said Tuesday she wasn’t ready to back any candidate for president but had narrowed it down to two — fellow Republicans Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Palin said she was trying to find time off the state clock to study where the two candidates stood on national security, resource development, and a natural gas pipeline, and had calls in to both campaigns.

“I would ideally love to speak with them personally on their positions on resources and national security,” she said....

Palin laughed at the idea that her endorsement mattered at the national level.


A friend of mine and I were discussing various vice-presidential options for Senator John McCain. We mentioned two possibilities: Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida. Here's what I said in regard to Sarah Heath Palin of Alaska:

I'm going to write more about this subject on my blog. McCain must position the Party for the future, and another Midwestern white guy is not the ticket at this point in history. As Rudy Giuliani said in his endorsement of McCain, we must reach out to all groups -- including women professionals -- to win national elections. Sarah Palin is the perfect VP candidate: wife, mother, and parent of a U.S. soldier, dynamic communicator, conservative, pro-life, and a permanent member of the NRA.

One reason McCain won FL was the endorsement of Mel Martinez and three Cuban-American congressional reps (all of them up there with him last night). McCain needs to get 40% (a stretch maybe) of the Hispanic vote in the general. Sarah Palin will play very well in the Hispanic communities, especially with women.

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