First let me begin by saying that Al Sharpton upstaged John Edwards despite his innumerable innacuracies and anachronisms. Aside from the popular lie about 40 acres and a mule.
According to Sharpton, while it is true that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, there was an unfulfilled commitment to 40 acres and a mule. This is at the very least a misleading statement.
General Sherman, the scourge of revisionist Civil War history, was the source. And what Sharpton fails to tell you is that the congressional bill intended to follow up on that promisewas vetoed by Democrat Andrew Johnson, who assumed office upon Lincoln’s assassination. Andrew Johnson was both an enemy of civil rights and a friend to the secessionists, which led to his impeachment.
And yet Sharpton’s most glaring error was perhaps proudly shouting the name “Obama Barack,” evidentally revealing his relative unfamiliarity with the Democratic Party’s newest star, Barack Obama.
But let’s give Sharpton, Al the benefit of the doubt.
John Edwards, as expected by all reasonable people, said absolutely nothing last night. But I was given many reasons to vote for him. For example, did you know he used to dress up as Santa Claus? Besides that, the guy looks like John Ritter. The one fault I just can’t seem to get past is his use of ‘myself’ for ‘me,’ though Jerry Springer has nearly desensitized myself me to pronominal ignorance.
I’ll run roughly through a few points of interest.
1) Edwards perpetuated the line about Kerry’s heroism. One wonders then why more than 220 men who served with him have organized against him.
Edwards also claimed that captaining swift boats was “one of the most dangerous” jobs in Vietnam.
I wondered how the tunnel rats felt at that, the medevac workers choppering into combat zones, or men like my father who spent their days and nights amidst the spray of agent orange and enemy fire south of Da Nang, men who didn’t apply for a purple heart everytime they cut themselves shaving. And I thought about a young J.F. Kerry scurrying for a quick tour to command the closest thing in ‘Nam to J. F. Kennedy’s PT boat.
Among those protesting are veterans who feel betrayed by Kerry’s lies about atrocities. They cite his well-known ambition, his efforts at emulating Kennedy, and the exaggeration of commonplace events that led, for example, to a silver star and swift ticket home.
(None of the news outlets on the web seems to be carrying remarks I heard on NPR by one man who served with Kerry and claimed that his desire to be like Kennedy was known to everyone. He echoed what has been said well elsewhere: that Kerry collected medals faster than Audie Murphy.)
And they resent the fact that while they were villains and war criminals when it served Kerry’s political career, they are now allowed to join him when his career demands a war hero.
There’s little noise being made about the Vietnamese marching alongside the veterans. They call Kerry a coward, a traitor, and a communist apologist.
But John Edwards calls Kerry a hero for turning his boat around and for hunting down and killing a fleeing and wounded enemy, despite the old party line that the Vietnam war was a mistake and a crime, its participants on each side victims.
Following the collapse of French imperialism in the East, the Geneva Accords threatened an imbalance of power in favor of the communists in Vietnam. President Eisenhower supported anti-communist forces in the south, forming the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. Kennedy, in his understandable fear of communist proliferation, stepped up U.S. involvement as conflict escalated between the communists and the counter-revolutionaries. Finally, after Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson made a bolder commitment and created the Vietnam war as we know it. (By no stretch of the imagination was Vietnam “Nixon’s war,” as Kerry has claimed.)
The victims were the Vietnamese who were subjected first to French imperialism, then to Democratic mismanagement, and finally to communist rule.
2) The best argument Edwards could make for receiving our vote was that the GOP has said mean things about Kerry. Aren’tcha just tired of it, y’all? See, people, you can do something about negative campaigning. Vote for us.
Compelling stuff.
3) How’s your Aristotle? Ready for a syllogism? Here goes …
A. Edwards’s parents were working class.
B. He’s a democrat.
Therefore, the working class should vote Democrat.
4) Vote Democrat because John Edwards spent his career suing HMO’s.
I’m not making this up. This was his argument. I’m somehow expected to be convinced to vote for a trial lawyer who helped raise my health insurance premiums through litigation?
5) Say goodbye to the Two America’s, and say hello to Utopia!
5 a) John Edwards promises that there will no longer be two kinds of health care, that for those who can afford the best, and that for the rest. How this will be possible without mandatory state-administered health care is unclear, but in the same breath he promised tax cuts to help pay for healthcare.
5 b) There will no longer be two kinds of public education under Kerry and Edwards, which means that the executive branch will in some way bypass congress as well as every state and local government and magically transfer the administration of public education to the federal government.
5 c) There will no longer be two economies, one for those who have lots of money and one for those who don’t.
Am I crazy, or is this a promise of the redistribution of wealth? Is a vote for Kerry/Edwards a vote for communism? Once again, how can the executive branch promise anything of the sort? Perhaps we should examine the “specifics” as outlined and emphasized by Edwards:

  • They will create "good paying jobs."
  • They will not give tax breaks to companies which move jobs overseas, but
    will in fact offer tax breaks to companies which do not move jobs overseas.
  • They will invest in future technologies (and here he lost me saying “because jobs are about dignity.”)

But wait! There’s more…

  • Through tax breaks and health care reform you will save nearly $1000.
  • You will be eligible to receive a $1000 credit for childcare.
  • You will be eligible for a $4000 tuition credit for college

How might we pay for this, you ask?
The wealthiest individuals and corporations will pick up the slack. Hm. Keep that in mind.
6) There are 38 million impoverished Americans, and Kerry and Edwards will do something about it “because it is wrong,” as if anyone else thinks it’s right.
But what will they do?

  • Raise the minimum wage.
  • Reform welfare.
  • And, once again, create good jobs.

By now you’re probably wondering how productive it might be to increase corporate taxes while forcing companies to pay higher wages. Couple that with tax incentives for keeping jobs in the States, and we have a genuine problem. If the tax breaks are significant enough to keep companies from using overseas labor, then every eligible corporation will seek these tax breaks, significantly decreasing the Kerry camp’s major source of tax revenue. If not, corporations will take the new tax penalty and seek the cheapest available labor in the world, destroying any hope of creating good jobs at home and taxing their proposed tax scheme.
The Democratic party needs to learn at last that you can not promise the stars. The overall message seemed to be, “Dreams can come true,” and I thought to myself, “Kennedy had Camelot, but Kerry has DisneyWorld.”
Quite by chance as I crawled into bed I picked up Christopher Hitchens’ Letters to a Young Contrarian. Chapter three seemed apt, so here’s an excerpt, beginning with a quote from Huxley’s Brave New World:

“Homer was wrong,” wrote Heracleitus of Ephesus, “Homer was wrong in saying: ‘Would that strife might perish from among gods and men!’ He did not see that he was praying for the destruction of the universe; for if his prayer were heard, all things would pass away.” These are the words on which the superhumanists should meditate. Aspiring toward a consistent perfection, they are aspiring toward annihilation. The Hindus had the wit to see and the courage to proclaim the fact; Nirvana, the goal of their striving, is nothingness. Wherever life exists, there also is inconsistency, division, strife.
You seem to have grasped the point that there is something idiot about those who believe that consensus (to give the hydra headed beast one of its names) is the highest good. Why do I use the offensive word “idiotic?” For two reasons that seem good to me; the first being my conviction that human beings do not, in fact, desire to live in some Disneyland of the mind, where there is an end to striving and a general feeling of contenment and bliss. This would be idiocy in its pejorative sense; the Athenians originally employed the term more lightly, defining as idiotis any man who was blandly indifferent to public affairs.
My second reason is less intuitive. Even if we did really harbor this desire, it would fortunately be unattainable. As a species, we may by all means think ruefully about the waste and horror produce by war and other forms of rivalry and jealousy. However, this can’t alter the fact that in life we make progress by conflict and disputation. …

… I am quite sure of two things. The first is that even uneducated people, whether sunk in the theocratic despotisms of yore, or the more modernised totalitarianisms of today (or the other way about, if you prefer) have an innate capacity to resist and, if not even to think for themselves, to have thoughts occur to them. …
The second, which is only a corollary to the first, is that we do not naturally aspire to any hazy, narcotic Nirvana, where our critical and ironic faculties would be of no use to us. … Only one other sacred text mentions “happiness” without embarrassment. But even in 1776, this concept was thought to be mentionable only as the consequence of bitter struggle, just then being embarked upon. The beautiful word “pursuit,” however we construe it, would be vacuous in any other context.

Edwards would doubtless not get it. He plowed on ahead with his justification for one America, picking up Kerry’s gross mis-interpretation of the Pan-African nationalism of W.E.B. Dubois. For Edwards, in sharp contrast to the willful black separatism espoused by the early socialist leadership of the NAACP, the segregation of the past fuels the need for “one America” today.
This is crucial. Edwards compared racial segregation with economic disparity. I can not imagine a bolder socialist statement in a relativley mainstream forum. The civil rights movement of today, for Kerry and Edwards, is the redistribution of wealth, or if not that then the effort of the federal government to reduce as much as possible whatever difference exist between any two people.
This is a drive toward conformity, sameness, and entitlements as rights.
Once again Edwards failed to make any sense. On this point he added that their goal was that their grandchildren’s be the first generation to grow up in “one America” because … we’re at war.
This fails to explain the politics of division which holds this ’empty’ war at its core.
In truth this was simply a weak transition as Edwards moved swiftly on to the hawkish posture necessary to seriously challenge the President in a hostile world. Despite criticising the President for going too far Edwards sketched in outline just how far he and Kerry would go:

  • They will do more!
  • They will act faster and be better!
  • They will listen to the 9-11 commission! (Ignore the fact that Bush is listening.)
  • They will form strong alliances.
  • They will support our emergency services.
  • The will always use force. (emphasis not mine)
  • And finally, their message to al Qaeda is, "You can not run. You can
    not hide. We will destroy you."

Keep in mind of course that the new party line is to criticize the Bush administration for doing too much, too fast, not to mention his use of force. From here we learn that 4 months in a swift boat qualifies Kerry to be commander in chief, are assured that he will win the war, and are treated to a verbal parade of the infirmity and death among our troops because of this war and promptly assured that the war will go on. What’s more, under Kerry and Edwards the military will be strengthened and ‘modernized’ (no more muskets?finally!), that numbers will be doubled, and funding increased.
They really are planning to get a lot of money out of the top 2% of wage earners, aren’t they? Soon enough Bill Gates will enter my tax bracket. Keep in mind the records of these senators on defense spending and conclude what you will of their veracity.
But the magic never ends in Disneyworld. Edwards also promised the respect of the world, an end to terrorism, and end to nuclear proliferation, and?here’s the kicker?”that’s how we’ll keep you safe.”
Wait … how? You never said how. Oh, it doesn’t really matter, anyway, because (cue the chorus) … HOPE IS ON THE WAY!
In the end we’ve been promised far more than 40 acres and a mule. We’ve been promised the promised land. And when the Democrats don’t deliver, will Sharpton come to see that only an elephant, and not a donkey, can ford the River Jordan?
Well, no, because that’s just empty rhetoric. The kind a second rate reverend makes his bread and butter on.