Tuesday, May 1, 2007

FOCUS On Immigration

We are all witness to the increasing focus in this country on how to renew the American Dream for those of our friends and neighbors struggling below the poverty line.

May 1 is a good time to spare a thought for those around the world who also live in poverty, and whose dream of improving their circumstances is to join the melting pot that is this American nation.

What better way to celebrate their ambition than to remind ourselves of the inscription to be found at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of
Greek fame,
with conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
a mighty woman with a torch
whose flame is imprisoned lightning,
and her name Mother of Exiles.

From her beacon-hand glows
world-wide welcome;
her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor
that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands your storied pomp!"
cries she with silent lips.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
No mention here of green cards or financial qualifications. No hint of border fences or security patrols.

Only a simple invitation to come - penniless, but hopeful - to our shores, where all will be welcome.

No need even to say 'thank you,' because you were welcome even before you left your homeland.

Today is a good day to remind our leaders that we are still a generous nation, even though they may have become scared and selfish and small-minded.

Today is a good day to think about what we can do to reclaim our government. To renew our invitation to those of our friends around the world who still live poor and huddled, and who want so badly to join our Dream.

Monday, April 23, 2007

FOCUS On America

Members of the Since Sliced Bread Community continue to adopt ideas, and news from the world (and the blogosphere) continues to show how relevant your ideas are, and how much we need to take action to make them a reality.

FOCUS on Poverty continues to be our most adopted idea, and with good reason as poverty is perhaps a bigger problem than many Americans realize. Via Care2 News Network this week comes a news of 2004 census analysis which reveals that 60 million Americans live on less than $7 a day.

While global income inequality is probably greater than it has ever been in human history, with half the world's population living on less than $3 per day, and the richest 1% receiving as much as the bottom 57%, the fact that so many Americans are living on so little, is particularly confounding.

The so-called “wealthiest, most abundant nation on Earth” now has the widest gap between rich and poor of any industrialized nation.
[2] In light of the fact that one dollar spent in the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia buys what $3 or $4 does in the U.S means the quality of life for tens of millions of Americans is now on a par with huge populations living in the developing world.

Ezra Klein points to a Robert Samuelson editorial that he says ignores the possible causes of economic disparity. But there are some Americans who can't ignore it, and according to this article by Raiane Eisler, most of them are women and children.

Consider that in the United States women over the age of 65 are twice as poor as men in the same age group. And there's a reason poverty so disproportionately hits women. Most of these poor women were, or still are, caregivers. And we've got an economic system that gives no visibility or value to this essential work when it's done in the home.

In fact, according to economists, the people who do the caring work in households, whether female or male, are "economically inactive." Of course, anyone who has a mother knows that most caregivers work from dawn to dusk. And we also know that without their work of caring for children, for the sick, and for the elderly, there would be no workforce, no economy, nothing.

Working Dad points out that children's health is at a 30-year low, and the Annual Child and Youth Well-Being Index (PDF) indicates that poverty is one of the main reasons. One of our finalist ideas, 3 Steps to Universal Health Care, recommends guaranteed health care for children and young adults.

So, what are you doing about poverty? The One Campaign wants to know, and wants you to tell the rest of the world.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wake Up America!

Today, we are all Hokies.

No sentient human being can watch the images of despair on the TV news, and not feel the pain of everyone at Virginia Tech, and in the small supporting township of Blacksburg, Virginia.

But we must also wonder, in confusion, what has become of our country. What on earth made this happen? What did we do that was so wrong that it could bring this to pass?

I can remember the Sixties like they were yesterday.

At home, America seemed to be a land of plenty. And Americans sought to carry that good feeling to new frontiers around the globe.

My father was a part of that crusade. Which is how I ended up being born and bred in England, even though my family had made the initial journey to America with the rest of the pilgrims, on the Mayflower.

My dad helped to introduce the American Express card to all points north and south, on the other side of the Atlantic - in Europe, the Middle East and in Africa.

It's difficult to conceive of a time when such capitalist artifacts were not commonplace around the world. But it was an era of adventure, heralded by John Kennedy's rousing words from the steps of the Capitol in Washington.

And then it all went wrong.

Assassinations. Vietnam. Watergate. A loss of innocence. A loss of pride. The adventure just crumbling away. I spent my teenage years in Europe avoiding the graffiti on the walls calling for all Yanks to go home.

When you believe that your excessive bonhomie and good fortune are impenetrable, and that you are welcome wherever you go, it's a mind-shock to discover that you're vulnerable after all, and that your neighbors were just waiting for you to fall over.

America withdrew into itself. It dropped all pretence of genuine altruism, and turned instead to self-gratification.

Ambition and greed were the driving forces at home, and where before America had prided itself on its spirit of outgoing generosity and charity when dealing with the rest of the world, now it was determined only to ensure that none got in its way.

The 'me' generations took over. Two stock booms. Corporate malfeasance. And a growing disparity between the rich and the poor.

An economic policy fuelled by greed; a social policy based on hatred; and a foreign policy driven by revenge.

These are the character traits by which America is recognised around the world in the 21st century.

But don't blame just our leaders. We have all cheered and encouraged the development of the society in which we live today.

It is not Congress or our Presidents who made us cynical and selfish. We did that to ourselves.

It is we who encourage the paparazzi, when we rush to buy the latest photo's of celebrity disgrace.

It is we who spend hours each evening delighting in the discomfort and embarrassment of ordinary people on TV reality shows.

It is we who think it is cute to be selfish and mean and intolerant and abusive.

And it is we who have determined that each of us, in our daily lives, will no longer think of what we can do for others, but rather that we should react to every given situation with prototypical Alpha American Attitude.

A wise politician in England once said, you can't legislate feelings.

There is way too much anger and intolerance in America today. But the answer is not to turn our cities and our universities into over-protected fortresses. Or to start another fruitless debate about the right to bear arms.

The answer lies in each of us.

Starting today, we can all make choices about how we act and react. What we watch and read. Whether or not we take the time to help the person we see has fallen by the wayside.

It is not government that will make us a less angry and a more tolerant country. It is each of us making better choices.

The political season is upon us. We will hear much from people telling us that we can be better; that we deserve better.

I say that we are better people - right now. And all we need to prove it is to start being better people in our dealings with our neighbors and our friends.

We deserve to get only that which we are prepared to give.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

FOCUS On A Helping Hand

The organizers (SEIU) of SinceSlicedBread.com (SSB) are doing a fantastic job of giving a high profile to FOCUS On Poverty and the plight of the 50 million of our friends and neighbors who live below the poverty line in this country. My continued thanks to SEIU, SSB, Terrance Heath and Matt S!

They have just put up the following guest post from me. All of this activity about FOCUS On Poverty on SSB is giving me an idea of what I might be able to do to help make FOCUS a reality. Given that the potential avenue, originally presented by John Edwards' Presidential Campaign, seems now to have closed as a realistic possibility. But more of that later...

[This guest post is from Geoffrey G., whose FOCUS on Poverty idea is currently our most adopted idea. Watch for more guest posts from Since Sliced Bread Community Members.]

Too many of our working friends and neighbors live below the poverty line. This should be unacceptable in the richest country on earth in the 21st Century. This is not a matter of politics; it’s a question of common human decency.

The purpose of FOCUS On Poverty is to guarantee that every man, woman and child in the United States has access to proper food, clothing, housing and healthcare. It’s not a matter of political semantics; it’s a question of basic human need.

FOCUS On Poverty originated in October 2005, when my co-hosts and I ran a four-part series on poverty, on the community radio station in Chapel Hill, North Carolina – my hometown, as well as that of John Edwards, Democratic Presidential Candidate. The major points of FOCUS now also form the centerpiece of John’s platform on poverty.

On the same day that John announced his Candidacy, I created http://www.watch9.blogspot.com/, the purpose of which is to help John stay on message with his promise to help America’s working poor families.

I have now issued an open invitation to John to appear on my radio program, to allow him to flesh out the specifics of his proposals. Air America Radio have already publicly committed their support to my campaign.

Big concepts and bold promises are all very well. But each one of us can do something right now to help our neighbors in need.

If ever there was time for direct citizen action, it is now. That is the very essence of what Since Sliced Bread is about. And SEIU are being joined in that approach by all of the progressive Presidential Campaigns – from John’s OneCorps, to Hillary’s ‘conversations,’ and Barack’s call to us all to take responsibility now.

I am delighted at the opportunity that SEIU and SSB have given to me to raise the profile of America’s working poor. I am proud of how much they have allowed me to achieve in this past year.

But you know, I was never so moved as when I was able to use the gifts that had been given to me to help my ex-girlfriend in her disability fight against her overbearing chain grocery store. Never so happy as when I was able to encourage a fellow worker to pop across our village green, and ask John’s National HQ for help with her bed-ridden mother.

We all know a family that is in need. They don’t so much want a hand-out, as the warmth of your helping hand. Don’t wait for them to ask. Spare them that final loss of dignity. Offer a kind word, a bit of advice, or a cooked meal.

And remember: all of us, working together, can help to "Take Care of America's Family Values" - one family at a time!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Great Minds Think Alike

The Service Employees International Union, the trade union organizing SinceSlicedBread.com (SSB), the national clearing-house web-site for commons sense ideas, submitted by ordinary Americans and designed to help working families, continues to give profile to FOCUS On Poverty.

This is excellent news for the 50 million Americans living below the poverty line. And I'm deeply grateful to SEIU and SSB for helping to remind our friends and neighbors that they are not alone. That we stand by them.

You too can show your support for America's working poor, by going to SSB and 'adopting' FOCUS On Poverty as an idea you wish to see become a reality.

This may be particularly crucial now that the Presidential Campaign of John Edwards has faltered.

The primary reason that I supported John's Campaign - and still hope that a miracle might occur - is that he was the only Candidate prepared to put forward proposals that would help to lead to the elimination of poverty in the United States.

There are plenty of national organizations that assist in giving profile to the plight of the poor. But what I wanted was action. And John's Campaign held out the real possibility of that action becoming a reality.

However, if we are to be brutally honest - and John has stated he wishes to be - then we have to admit that it is now highly unlikely that John will be the Democratic Nominee in 2008.

And so I will turn my mind to other other avenues, which on the one hand will parallel and compliment John's efforts, but on the other may hold out a greater chance of our jointly-conceived proposals on poverty becoming a reality.

Now, I'm getting there! And I will be updating you with my thinking and planning - as they progress.

But, in the meantime, you can at least show that your heart is in the right place by 'adopting' FOCUS On Poverty at SSB:

Themes from two of our most adopted ideas -- FOCUS on Poverty and Consumer Credit and Debt -- are cropping up in the news and in the blogosphere. Jim Wallis, of Sojourners, has long been a leading voice in the evangelical community on poverty issues, and on his blog this week he called for a "moral budget" that will "prioritize the poor," and quoted from a letter he sent to every U.S. Senator:

In a letter that went to every senator, I requested that each “make sure to prioritize poor and working families, children, and the elderly as you determine where our nation commits its energies and resources.” I continued, “what is needed now is bold leadership and an agenda that sets clear priorities and seeks to empower families. We need to protect critical programs and increase aid, but also recommit ourselves to the notion of the common good.”

BritMish Accomplished

MSNBC ran an article which seems to support much of what I was saying about the fifteen 'sailors' who were picked up by the Iranians.

The media in the UK have been a tad less inspiring and thoughtful. They’re all bent out of shape because they say the 'sailors' acted with less than the appropriate British 'stiff upper lip.' Oh, get real!

Here’s the deal – by the numbers.

The leader of the sailor group has now admitted they were on an intelligence mission. He has also stated that his rules of engagement were to co-operate if captured – giving the Iranians no excuse to retaliate and exacerbate the situation.

If you watch the sailors making their videos, you see them reading from a cue card. If you read the letters they purportedly wrote, and you have any knowledge of English as the Brits write and speak it, you will know that they contain phrases we would never normally use.

Kind of like those awful instruction manuals in English the Japanese concocted, when they first started selling consumer products to the West.

And was I the only person who thought the sailors all looked preternaturally composed for a bunch of Brits who were alleged to be scared out of their wits? Was that just natural British 'reserve' - or the result of special forces' training?

Let's be clear about the end result of all this "appalling" behavior by those 'sailors': our boys – and girl – were released without us having to issue any kind of apology, and without one shot being fired.

Sort of stands in contrast to everything else going on in Afghanistan and Iraq, doesn't it?

You know, just occasionally, a thousand years of geopolitical experience counts for more than a big gun and a John Wayne attitude.

So, to all the doubters, I say this - on this occasion, I think we Brits are justified in claiming, "Mission Accomplished!"

Tomorrow Ended Yesterday?

Ok. I was wrong. Barack didn’t delay the announcement of his fund-raising total because it was bad news.

But I still maintain that giving Hillary a week to prance around stating that she had broken all fund-raising records was a bad political tactic.

Rule No. 1: never, ever, ever give your primary opponent the political stage, front and center – all on their lonesome. Hello!

And therein lie a few pointers for the way things may proceed in the Democratic camp during the run-up to the explosive – and for some, potentially implosive – two months of January/February 2008.

Barack is now the clear favorite among Democrats, having raked in a whopping $25 million in the first financial quarter of 2007.

However, the decision to delay his own announcement betrays a political naïveté that may cost him against Hillary’s powerful and experienced campaign machine.

And I hate to say it. Really I do. But the money announcement for March 31 effectively marks the end of any realistic chance John had of winning the nomination.

Oh, he will continue. And I strongly urge him to do so. I want him to go on giving high profile to the plight of America’s poor.

But he had to break the media perception of this being a two-horse race between Hillary and Barack. And in that crucial ambition, John failed.

He has one last, slender chance with the next money announcement on June 30. If he can, at least, insert himself between Barack and Hillary with his fund-raising total for the second quarter of 2007, he might just revive his chances in the minds of Democratic voters.

Otherwise, he will have solidified his position as the eventual third place in everyone’s perception.

And there will be few people out there sadder about that reality than me.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


FOCUS On Poverty has caught the attention of SEIU, the national union organizing the SinceSlicedBread.com (SSB) web-site, where FOCUS is currently featured.

Terrance Heath, the blogmaster in charge of SSB, recently issued the following e-mail to the thousands of individuals who signed up with SSB, in response to the call by SEIU to help America's working families with a healthy dose of citizen action.

You should see what some people are doing with their ideas!

For example, Geoffrey G. in North Carolina has an idea about how to help the millions of Americans who live below the poverty line.

But he's not just waiting for it to happen: Geoffrey has contacted the John Edwards campaign about the idea and started a blog to support his efforts.

Top 5 Most Adopted Ideas:1. FOCUS On Poverty2. Workweek Down 1/10, Commuting 1/5 !3. Consumer Credit And Debt 4. Peace Study in Public Schools 5. Farm Produce Distribution Network

You can adopt this idea, read excerpts from his blog and help Geoffrey take action here: http://www.sinceslicedbread.com/idea/13449

If you haven't adopted an idea yet, what are you waiting for?

Click here to find one you might like: http://www.sinceslicedbread.com/allideas

Terrance Heath
Since Sliced Bread

Enlist your friends for help! Click below. Tell-a-friend!

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Since Sliced Bread.

Like Terrance says, show your support for the 50 million Americans who live below the poverty line. Let them now that they are not alone.

Go over to SSB and 'adopt' FOCUS On Poverty as an idea you want to see become a reality.

BritCom In Iran

As a Brit-Am, I have to shed a small tear for the President of Iran. Boy, did we have him tied up in knots!

Ok. Let’s take the recent episode with the UK ‘sailors’ by stages.

So, fifteen of our boys (and one girl) were caught at sea. The line put out by the British Government was that they were technically in Iraqi waters, looking for smugglers.

How many search and board missions do you know about that are conducted in rubber dinghies?

What did the media think these dinghies were going to do when they came across a trawler smuggling hash, or whatever? Bump them into harbor?

Rubber dinghies serve only one military purpose. They are used by elite reconnaissance troops (in this instance, most probably a combined unit of Royal Marines and Special Boat Squadron), to evade radar detection, and mount clandestine beach landings.

I’m guessing the fifteen ‘sailors’ were either on their way to or coming back from an exercise to reconnoiter potential bombing targets in Iran.

Of course they were in Iranian waters. And that’s where the Brits started having fun with the Iranians.

The ‘sailors’ saw the Iranians coming. So, they dumped everything suspicious overboard. Then, from the moment they were captured, as they are taught in some of the toughest training in the world, they played dumb.

Did nothing to create waves. No John Wayne moments. Did what they were told. Said what they had to say. With lots of ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ In the certain knowledge that they had what was needed to tough it out. And all the while fully aware of the action their Government would be taking.

Which was the same: nothing - nada.

The British Government stuck to the line that the ‘sailors’ were in Iraqi waters. And beyond that, they just laughed at the Iranians.

Tony Blair knew what his ‘sailors’ were doing. He also knew that they knew they were deniable. And that they could take care of themselves.

All of which left the Iranians with nowhere to go. So, they caved in.

And how do I 'know' all of this? Ah. Good question. Read the book I wrote about my involuntary adventures in the world of covert intelligence...

Reality Sucks. Really.

So, we have the results of the first non-binding primary of 2008 – the fund-raising stakes.

First the losers – and mine may bear little resemblance to those touted by the mainstream media.

Hillary: she was expected to raise closer to $40 million overall, not $26 million.

John: his own Campaign was spreading the word it would be $20 million, not $15 million.

Barack: we don’t yet know his total. But no political strategy, of which I’m aware, says that you gain points by allowing your major rival to wander around for a couple of weeks telling the world that she won – at anything…

McCain: all former Dean supporters, have a warm and fuzzy moment, why not? Watch somebody else’s front-running campaign enter free-fall. Third among Republicans, with only $12.5 million.

The winners?

Rudy: mind you, he raised the same amount as John. So, why the different measure? Do you know, I don’t know. It’s a matter of perception. But, that’s what this first primary is all about. So, trust me.

Bill Richardson: this guy was one of the last to enter the race. I think he took a couple of minutes to announce in between the State of New Mexico address and a visit to some nuclear waste facility. He has beans for a national network. And he rakes in a cool $6 million. Keep a beady eye on Bill.

He has credentials up the wazoo. Former Congressman, current Governor, former Secretary of Energy and UN Ambassador. He is as much at home welcoming a visiting Chinese dignitary, as he is lassoing a steer at the State Fair. And he has oodles of charisma for the Campaign Trail. He may well end up being the true heir to The Bill…

And last, and absolutely the least – “Mittens The Face-Lift.”

Just goes to show you what the power of the Mormon network and a few judicious telephone calls to old venture-capitalist pals can do.

$23 million. Who would have thunk it? Very definitely the overall fund-raising winner. God help us all.

There are those who accuse John of being plastic. At least plastic has some strength and firmness to it. “Mittens” is more like plasticine. Totally mouldable. Let’s people change his shape whenever it suits him.

How can you trust someone to get their political bearings straight, when they can’t even get their geographical bearings straight? Remind me again, is he from Utah, Michigan or Massachusetts?

About the only thing going for “Mittens,” from my point of view, is that he is so malleable, that if he gets elected, there might just be a chance that he can be persuaded to implement FOCUS On Poverty.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Five members of my immediate family were struck by cancer. I lost my mother to cancer.

I genuinely hope that the period of treatment for Elizabeth Edwards, and the following process, is as painless as possible for her, for John, and for their young family.

I wish Elizabeth the very best.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Real FOCUS On Poverty

Good news for John Edwards, W9 and our jointly-conceived program for eliminating poverty in the United States - FOCUS On Poverty. Ordinary folk are jumping onto the bandwagon. And you too can help to garner support for the cause of helping America's poor. Read on!

At the end of 2005, at the same time that the specifics of FOCUS On Poverty were being aired on the local community radio station that serves both John and me, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I submitted a summary of FOCUS to a web-site called SinceSlicedBread.com.

SSB is a project run by the Service Employees International Union, and its purpose is to serve as a national clearing-house for ideas from regular people about how to help America's working families - in particular, those that fall below the poverty line.

FOCUS On Poverty was the suggestion that received the most reviews during the competition phase, back in January 2006.

FOCUS On Poverty is the idea that has received the most flags in the past year. And...

FOCUS On Poverty is the proposal currently being adopted by the most visitors to SSB.

This is great news for all of America's working poor, who struggle every day to achieve some small measure of dignity, in the face of obstacles they believe are insurmountable. It sends them a message that they are not alone.

Be a part of that same message.

Lend your voice. To ensure that SEIU hears it. That the other visitors to SSB hear it. And, perhaps most important of all, that John Edwards hears it.

That he never wavers. And never feels that it might be ok to 're-calculate' just how important the issue of poverty is to all ordinary people in America.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  1. Go to the SSB site, create an account, and then review FOCUS On Poverty.

  2. Flag FOCUS On Poverty as a slice above the rest! When you have signed in, go to FOCUS On Poverty, and below the idea, click on the 'yes' icon, where it asks if this idea is a slice above the rest.

  3. Adopt FOCUS On Poverty as an idea that needs implementation - now! Once you have signed in, go to FOCUS On Poverty, and left-click once on the light-bulb icon. Note: when it asks if you want to set it loose - don't!

  4. In the Comment box, in the Act section, make suggestions as to what you think can be done to make FOCUS On Poverty a reality.

  5. In particular, in that Comment box, openly lend your support to W9's campaign to get John Edwards to accept our outstanding invitation to come and be interviewed on his local, grass-roots radio station, and give detailed, irredeemable specifics on how he intends to implement FOCUS On Poverty when he becomes President.

  6. Leave a comment on this blog, why not? SEIU and John Edwards will be sure to see it!

W9 and FOCUS On Poverty are not about me. They're not even about John Edwards - even though he is the only Presidential Candidate to make America's poor the central focus of his Campaign.

I don't care a fig for myself whether or not you take any of the action outlined above. I care only about helping those 50 million of our friends and neighbors who have done all they can to make ends meet. It's time we remembered the generous spirit that was behind the founding of this country, and gave our friends and neighbors a helping hand.

You can give a helping hand today, by going to SSB, and letting our friends and neighbors know they are not alone.

You can also go to John Edwards' site and leave him a message. Tell John you want him to prove, once and for all, that he is a real friend of the poor.

Ask him to agree to give a detailed interview to his local, grass-roots radio station. To prove to all of us that he is staying on message. I'll make it easy for you - just paste the following into John's Questions/Ideas box:

"Hey John. Here's an idea. Why don't you agree to give a live interview to Geoff Gilson on your local, grass-roots radio station. Show us the 'real' you. Convince us you're still on message about America's poor."

Now John, you don't have to wait to hear the message. You can agree to that interview - today! And John - have you yet gone to SSB, and shown your open support for FOCUS On Poverty - 'adopted' on SSB the very same proposals on eliminating poverty that you have already adopted for your own Campaign?

John, SSB represents the very essence of your Presidential Campaign. It allows ordinary folk to organize and take action on their own common sense ideas to help America's working families. It is a magnificent reflection of your call for people to achieve results even before you get to the White House. In fact, you should want to 'adopt' the entirety of SSB! Certainly, give it profile on your Campaign web site.

I want to thank SEIU and their President, Andy Stern, for the opportunity to give such high profile to the cause of America's working poor. SSB is truly American innovation and inspiration at its best. As they themselves say, who better than real working men and women to put forward ideas on how to make America a better place for everyone?

Folks, don't miss your opportunity to send the right message on poverty to all those campaigning for the Presidency.

Go to SSB, support W9 and John Edward's FOCUS On Poverty, and help to get some real 'focus' on the 50 million Americans who live below the poverty line.

Real March Madness

While we gamely celebrate the exploits of the likes of Vanderbilt and VCU in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Championship (and John and I cheer on the Tar Heels!), let’s spare a thought for a real upset in an international sports championship half a world away.

In the Cricket World Cup, Ireland defeated Pakistan. On a Saturday which was also (quite fittingly) St. Patrick’s Day.

Pakistan is a powerhouse on the international professional cricketing scene. The Irish team, on the other hand, is that rarity which has virtually disappeared from the whole American approach to 'serious’ sports – the Irish cricket team is composed entirely of part-time, unpaid amateurs.

That means Irish team members do not make their trade at the sport. They are doctors and farmers and laborers. They do what they do for the love of the sport, and for the honor of representing their country.

Half a world away in geography, maybe. But many lifetimes removed from what we have become in America, without a doubt.

To put the Irish achievement in perspective, imagine your local community college putting together a basketball team of adult part-timers, and that team then taking out Ohio State in the NCAA Championship. That’s the equivalent.

So, let’s celebrate what a team of ordinary guys, in true blue-collar, gritty fashion, can actually pull off.

But let’s also view their success as a triumph of real human spirit and soul over the co-option of human endeavor by selfish, professional greed – a living example of what a few good men can do in the face of a society that says, it can’t be done, because corporatism wins over humanity every time.

And let’s see it as a good omen for what we in America can achieve, after the next Presidential Election, on behalf of the 50 million of our friends and neighbors who still live below the poverty line.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Real Straight Talker?

"You're entitled to not agree with me, but you will know
what I stand for and you will not get politician double-talk"

MSNBC tell us that they have got hold of a galley-proof of a memoir by Bob Shrum, one of John's former political consultants.

Conveniently, Bob confesses that it was his fault that John voted for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.

And we simple working men and women are supposed to believe that this galley-proof just dropped into MSNBC's lap...?

John. Bless your heart. Reality check.

Inviting a former adviser to fall on the sword is not perceived by ordinary working men and women as an act of political courage.

Regular folk do not expect a straight talker to slip around in the shadows and get books leaked, just to help him with his polling figures.

The worst part, John, is that the book doesn't actually help you. Not only was its leaking naked political calculation - which you pretend to eschew. It was bad political calculation.

Far from helping you, the book actually undermines your claim to have (naturally) heightened levels of political testosterone. Bob thinks he's doing you a favor with his 'candor.' And you obviously think so too. But in truth, both the book and its leaking are helping to dig you a grave.

Bob writes that he regrets advising you to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. He says that if you had followed your instincts, instead of the advice of political professionals, you would have been a stronger presidential candidate in 2004.

This doesn't tell us, John, that you are a man of steely conviction, prepared to stand your ground no matter what. Rather, it seems to suggest political weakness and calculation - which you keep telling us you reject.

Now, your spokesman, David Ginsberg, has done his best to dispute the suggestion that you were making a political calculation with the vote that you have called the most important of your career:

"John Edwards cast his vote based on the advice of national security advisers and the intelligence he was given, not political advisers," David has said. "He got political advice on both sides of the argument, and made his own decision based on what he thought was right, not political calculation."

Bob disagrees. He writes that you called your foreign policy and political advisers together in your Washington living room in the fall of 2002 to get their advice. You were "skeptical, even exercised" about the idea of voting yes, and Elizabeth was forcefully against it, according to Bob.

But Bob says the consensus among the advisers was that, after just four years in office, you did not have the credibility to vote against the resolution and had to support it to be taken seriously on national security.

Um. John. That's called basing a national security decision on political calculation.

Far from helping you, this whole contrived episode serves only to suggest that you have no conviction; you are the prisoner of political calculation; and that you change your mind whenever the political wind demands it.

Plus, if we really want to know who the 'real' you is on any given day, there's no point in asking you - what we need to do is take a straw poll of your family and advisers...I know...ouch...but I tell it like I see it...and I only do it because I care...

John, I will say it again: I want so very badly to believe that you are 'real,' because I want so very badly to believe that the 50 million people who fall below the poverty line in this country finally have a 'real' champion.

You have tied the credibility of their plight to your own political credibility. If people come to believe that you are not 'real,' then they will also conclude that there is no 'real' poverty problem.

When you say you are one thing, but are proven to be another, that disconnect damages you credibility - and it hurts poor people.

When you say we will know what you stand for, but your beliefs keep changing, that damages your credibility - and it hurts poor people.

When you say we will get no politician double-talk, but that's all you dish up, then that damages your credibility - and it hurts poor people.

Even after forty years, regular folk still feel the authenticity of Robert Kennedy - and he came with a lot more baggage than you do, John.

But the baggage didn't matter. What people remember is that Robert Kennedy had true political courage. He took risks. He crossed lines. And he didn't care about the consequences. He did what was right. Because it was right. And damn the consequences.

There wasn't a hint of contrivance or calculation in his looks, his policies, his speeches, his strategy or his tactics.

Frankly, John, if you are to overcome the credibility chasm that your advisers have opened for you, then you need visibly to start taking risks. You need to find a line to cross. To appear really authentic.

You claim to speak for 50 million people who do not know about living the lifestyle you have created for yourself - commendably. They know only about surviving, day-to-day.

If you want to bring those in poverty along with you - if you really do - then they need to see that you are prepared to risk your plans, your comfortable lifestyle, your political ambitions. To stand by them. They need to see you cross a political line, over which you can not return.

Otherwise, all they will see is someone whose political credo is based on political self-interest - not political courage or honesty. All they will see is political calculation. And they will not put their lives, let alone their votes, in your hands.

John, if you want to be a champion of the poor, then you need to be a warrior, not a politician. If you want working folk to see the warrior, and not the politician, then you need to get away from the Hollywood Campaign that has you trapped.

Convince us, John. Before it is too late. And if I can help you...well...the invitation to engage in some 'real' straight talk in a 'real' radio interview continues to be open.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Real Soul

I want to say something about my party," John said. "I'm so tired of incremental, careful caution. Where is our soul? Where is our soul? We are [at] our most powerful when we speak from here" -- he touched his heart -- "and not from a poll."
Time to take stock, John.

At first, I was worried that maybe you weren't doing enough to let real people see the 'real' you. I thought that was the only problem.

I thought that might be because you were so involved at the center of your campaign, and so controlled by the intricate choreography of it, that you simply weren't allowing yourself to get to ordinary folk.

And don't go believing your own press, John. 'Getting out' is not 'getting to' the people. You are never so alone when you are at the center of a crowd. On a platform. Behind a mike. Remembering the phrases from that last focus group poll.

But now, I have another fear. In a way it's the same problem, but in reverse. Now, I 'm troubled that, being so in control, you are allowing that control to keep you out of touch. With reality.

There are too may continuing miscues, missteps, mistakes...hmm, I'm beginning to sound a bit like an old, broken record.

Listen John. I'm going to give this a rest for a while. I'm still with you. But there are problems you need to address - in my opinion. You know what they are. I've covered them already. And you know what I think would be a large part of the solution.

I want you to pop down to your local radio station. I want you to give a grass-roots interview. No props. Totally open and honest. From the heart.

I want you to address the issues you are not addressing.

I want you to address them in a way that you are not - at the moment.

I want you to deal with the disconnect between your rhetoric and your actions.

I want you to tell ordinary people why the issue of poverty is so important.

I want you to tell those regular folk why they should trust you to keep your promises - all of them; not just the ones about alleviating poverty.

I want you to convince all of us that changing your mind and being calculating will not mean that you will change your mind about poverty, and 'calculate' that its elimination is not so important, once you get to the White House.

I want you to explain your specifics, without the hedging and the fudging you are employing at the moment.

I want to give you a real opportunity to convince ordinary working folk that you are not the same old, same old - that you are, indeed, a breath of fresh air.

And I want to give you the best opportunity possible to speak to and to speak for real working class people.

Of course, you can go on avoiding the invitation. But there it is. It's open. I don't need to go on reminding you.

In the meantime, you know what might be useful, John? Aside from picking on you? It might be interesting if I spent a little time explaining just why I am so passionate about the plight of America's poor.

And if I did this by sharing with you and with my other readers the journey that brought me to this conversation with them and with you.

Why? Because in so many ways, John, when I look at you, I see parts of me.

One of the biggest criticisms of me is that I am overly calculating. But I'm not. I mean, yes, I calculate. I can't help the brain that God gave me. And I care enough about what I do, to care about doing it in a way that gives it the best chance of success. But I'm not calculating.

I try to help those of my friends who are less fortunate than myself. I feel about them the way you say you feel about working people. In your anecdotes. I just wish I had the same opportunity as you to help so many more disadvantaged people.

So. When I see what I see in your Campaign, John. When I see what I am seeing with you. When, in particular, I see what may be disconnect. The possibility, however remote, that you may not be exactly who you say you are. I want to do something about it. I want to help you get back on message.

And I believe that a grass-roots radio interview with me would really help to start that process.

But, as I say, John, I think it only fair that you get to see why I believe all of this so fervently. And so you will.

In among the continuing commentaries, I will include some autobiographical notes about me, my journey to this conversation, and to my conversion to the cause of eliminating poverty in America.

In other words, 'the real story' about me...

Ouch! For Real (B)

John, John, John.

You know you've got problems when the Campaign staff start saying behind your back that you might just be out of touch with reality. Really.

And I don't mean one of those "gosh, I'll tell you, but don't tell John" unattributable quotes you and Dave have been libbying...I mean, leaking to Newsweek and The Washington Post.

I mean Campaign grunts expressing real concern about the direction of your Campaign.

For example. There is, apparently, a big question mark over the disconnect seen within your own media-response task force.

On the one hand, you, Dave and the Campaign team hit the ground running before Ann Coulter even had a chance to adjust her titanium make-up - after her totally ineffectual remarks at Con-PAC.

Yet, no-one has been given any instructions as to how to deal with all of the really damaging material about you that keeps seeping into the media. Like:
  • The continuing perceived disconnect over your house and you championship of the poor.

  • A similar disconnect concerning your luxury National Campaign HQ.

  • Your seeming lack of achievements while at the UNC Center for Poverty.

  • The absence of pro-bono work when you were a lawyer.

  • The less-than-stellar relations with ordinary folk in your new hometown of Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Stories of isolation when living in Raleigh, NC - plus episodes of bird-flipping while jogging...?

Your staff remember your declaration at the beginning of your Campaign, when you stated boldly that you would be fully alert to any and all allegations of disconnect on your part.

You Campaign was going to be one of engagement and connection - with ordinary people and with the media.

Those same staff are now beginning to wonder why the rhetoric is not being matched with action...

Ouch! For Real (A)

John, John, John.

Do you remember Deirdre?

Well, she came up to me the other day, all a-fluster. It would seem that you sent her an e-mail asking her for money.

Now, in case you don't immediately recall, Deidre is my friend from work, whom I persuaded to pop across the green - to your National Campaign HQ - to ask for help.

Her mother has breast cancer, and there's all sorts of problems with benefits. Not an anecdote - a real-life person, having to make that real-life choice between paying the rent or buying medicals.

"So why," Deirdre cried, "why is John asking me for money? He lives in a big mansion. I live in a small apartment. I need to help my mom. I can't help John as well. Doesn't he understand that...?"

I tried to calm her down. Told her that it's the quid pro quo. You help her. She goes on the mailing list. But with that, Deirdre just got a flinty look in her eye.

She looked at me with ice in them eyes, and she said: "No, Geoff, no. He's supposed to be different. He told us he was going to be different."

You lost a vote, John. You lost a vote because a good, honest working lady saw the disconnect between what you say you are doing and what you are actually doing.

Deirdre will not vote for you now because she can not trust you to keep your promises. She now takes the view that you're just another calculating lawyer.

Deirdre lives over in Siler City. You know it well. She'd heard all the stories from her friends that you only took cases that you could win. But she wouldn't listen.

You helped her. And she thought the world of you because she thought you didn't care whether or not she could do anything for you. Until she got the e-mail asking for money.

Deirdre no longer believes that you are a breath of fresh air. That you mean it when you say you won't use the old political ways. You won't hide. You won't horse-trade. You'll be open and honest. Show us all the 'real' you.

Well, she thinks she's now seen the 'real' you. She now thinks everything you do and say is just a new take on the same old, same old. That you're no better or worse than other politicians. Just a little more slippery.

Of course. Deirdre's just one vote. Just one worker. Maybe she doesn't matter. But she matters to me.

And she ought to matter to you, John. If you're real. If you really have soul...

The Real Question About Iraq

[OPEC Oil Ministers]

You see, John, what gets me itchy is that when I talk with my mates, who are down-to-earth working-class types, they don't ask any of the questions you seem focused on answering.

Take Iraq and oil for starters. My mates, untroubled by the so-called complexities of geopolitics, see 150,000 heavily-armed American soldiers in Iraq - I think that would be without The Surge ("the insurgent cleaner that kills 99% of all known germ warriors").

They see American military bases in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Taken all together, that accounts for, what, about two-thirds of the world's known oil reserves?

They see a brand-spanking new, western-suited, probably American-educated, Iraqi oil minister, striding into the latest meeting of OPEC - no doubt with George's marching orders tucked into that oh-so-pretty Gucci briefcase.

And they can't help but wonder, ever so gently, why gas prices are still so high?

Now, I may think this a silly question. Indeed, I may have a clever answer. But they don't want to hear me. They want to hear you.

They want me, as an ordinary person, just like them, to ask you precisely this sort of question in a real radio interview. On your local grass-roots radio station.

And why? Because they know I won't back off. And because they don't hear the fancy media asking you this sort of question - the sort of question that interests real working people like them.

It doesn't matter what I think of their questions. Or what you think. You should want to answer them because they are the questions on the minds of the ordinary folk you claim to want to speak to and speak for.

So, what about it, John? Real questions. Real answers. Real feelings. Real credibility. Lots of reality, all around. Really.

Are you game for some real tough reality, John?

The Real Problem With Iraq

And so political expediency meets...well...political expediency.

John was in Nashua, New Hampshire recently. Talking to a group of 125 residents at the home of a State Senator. And attempting to highlight the differences between him and Hillary on the issue of Iraq.

Now, John has to create what we in England call clear blue water between him and Hillary on this topic, because he's trailing a distant third in this all-important first Primary State. That's politically sensible.

And he's doing it by picking on the one aspect where there is both clarity - and not only in the color of the water - and distance.

Hillary won't apologize for her 2002 Senate vote. John, on the other hand, has made sackcloth and ashes his motif de couture on this issue. This plays well to the anti-War activists. And so, again, it is politically sensible.

The problem with political expediency is that it often ignores the real issue - and even ordinary people can see that.

My favorite demographic - the boys and girls down at the VFW - know all too well that what's done is done. We're in Iraq. And it's a mess.

What worries them is not who did what in 2002. Nor who is saying what now. They ain't stupid. They know we are going to withdraw. The only questions are when and how.

And that is what worries Jonny Nascar and Wynette Walmart. What is going to happen when we do eventually withdraw from Iraq? Particularly, what is going to happen to the price of gas?

And no-one, not John, not Hillary, not even McCain, is talking half-way sensibly about that. And that is what really worries the boys and girls down at the VFW.

And John. Take note. If they are still worried come the General Election, it may well be the issue that pushes them into what they continue to see as the 'safe arms' of the Republican Party.

So. Maybe, it's time to get real on this subject. Maybe this is somewhere where "it's really important for us to be honest with the country..."

On a positive note, John, I am happy that you were addressing an intimate group of 125 people in Nashua. I know they were probably hand-picked.

But it's a step in the right direction - of loosening yourself from the Hollywood aspect of your Campaign, and getting closer to real people.

Nice to know you're reading the blog, John - and paying some heed. Thank you.

A Conservative Christian: Is Edwards For Real?

[Kuo, far left, is the guy who says Bush and Rove broke campaign pledges to faith-based groups.]

David Kuo is a conservative Christian, who served as Deputy Director of President Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives until 2003.

David is currently the Washington editor for Beliefnet.com. He wrote a book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, in which he claimed that Bush aides had privately called conservative Christians "nuts,'' "ridiculous'' and "goofy.''

What follows is an article David posted on Beliefnet.com on the same day that Ann Coulter called John a "faggot" at the Con-PAC annual conference:

I believe John Edwards.

I believe his passionate statements on behalf of the poor. I believe that the faith he says animates him is real.

I believe that he has made quiet and selfless trips to care for the suffering around the world. I believe he knows what poverty is like and that his faith in Jesus requires him to care for the poor.

I believe that those who criticize him for living in a huge house while talking about the poor should shut up - by that standard should only the sick get to talk about health care?

I really, truly, absolutely believe John Edwards.

But I'm skeptical. Blame President Bush for that.

I walked away from a long meeting with Gov. George W. Bush in early 1998 believing certain things - that compassionate conservatism motivated him, that his talk of "racial, social and economic justice" was sincere, that he really was a "different kind of Republican."

I believed it so much I went to work for him and ended up spinning the facts so I wouldn't have to have my beliefs disturbed. I've been set straight.

John Edwards has many distinct advantages over the George W. Bush of1998. Bush had been moved by a single question asked him by a young man in a juvenile detention facility. "What do you think of me?" He didn't have an answer but nobly wrestled with it and out of the wrestling came his compassionate conservatism.

Like Jesus' parable of the seed and the sower, however, it sprung up quickly but had no roots and just as quickly it died away.

Edwards has more than anecdotes. He actually did grow up poor as he has talked about perhaps a bit too much. But more than that he has put himself in suffering's way.

Casual mentions of trips to some of the world's poorest places mingle with talk of the suffering he has experienced in his own life - the loss of a son, his wife's breast cancer.

To John Edwards combating poverty and fighting for the poor isn't a novel idea - there isn't any starry-eyed talk about solving poverty, just a firm resolve to address it. That is good.

He is also less brazen about his faith. He obviously understands the great political benefits (and increasing necessity) of talking about it - this very successful litigator knows how to win a case after all.

Still, there is a striking and attractive reticence for being too spiritually naked. Then again, that may simply be the trial lawyer judging the jury.

Ultimately, however, the proof will be in the actions. Will he continue to make the poor a center of his agenda? With increasingly success - if it comes, and I believe it will - will he still display that same passion?

And, if elected, will he actually follow though on his promises? That is the only question that ultimately matters.

Promises to the poor are sacred promises, a test of character and of faith because they depend more than most promises on the person making them.

There are no great lobbyists who push the poor, no Fortune 500 companies throwing parties for candidates who support the poor, in fact, no one really cares about the poor in politics except for those who make the promises.

Is John Edwards real and genuine? He may have the chance to prove it.


I am not a conservative Christian. But John - and David - I could not have said it better.

The Conservative Primary (3)

Look, John. I understand you have to get your press coverage where you can. But frankly, the one thing that caused a bigger yawn this past sleepy Sunday morning than Ann Coulter's silly attack on you was your utterly unnecessary response.

John, the only people who care about Ann Coulter are Ann Coulter and the 1,705 registrants who voted in the Con-PAC straw poll. Get real! You'd have suffered more damage being savaged by a sheep.

So, the contrived tone of injury was...well...contrived. And frankly, we ordinary folk - your very best friends - are beginning to get a teeny-weeny bit tired of it. That is a shade of color up from 'concerned.'

There are real problems in this country to be talking about. And I'm beginning to wonder if your avoidance of them is purely accidental.

There are serious problems within your campaign which need attention. And I'm beginning to wonder if you're becoming...well...out of touch, John.

And I'm not the only one. I'm hearing it from former supporters of yours. I'm even hearing it from inside your campaign, John.

We all want you to get back on track, John - before it's too late.

The Conservative Primary (2)

Mind you, why are we even pretending that one can possibly take social conservatives seriously?

It was the same Con-PAC conference which on Friday applauded when arch-conservative pundit, Ann Coulter, called John a "faggot."

This from an organization which had just chosen an airhead pretty-boy ("Mitt-ens the Face-Lift") as its favorite Republican Presidential Candidate.

To make matters worse, it was Mitt-ens who introduced Ann Coulter to the conference before she made the speech where she used the offending word. Socially conservative she may be, but Christian she clearly ain't.

The Conservative Primary (1)

The Republicans' Second Primary should have been the annual conference last week of the American Conservative Union Political Action Committee. However, it would seem that a liberal dose of March Madness was in the air (pun intended). And so it was that Mitt Romney came first in a straw poll of the GOP activists attending.

Despite his record of inconsistency on some social issues, the former Massachusetts Governor received 21 per cent of the 1,705 votes cast by paid registrants to the three-day conference. They were asked who their first choice would be for the Republican nomination.

Now, don't go getting your knickers in a twist. My predictions in The Preacher Primary still stand. The Con-PAC straw poll has little real meaning. The voters were just pissed that John McCain had decided not to attend, and they acted out their anger in the straw poll.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Preacher Primary

The Republicans’ first primary contest is this week, and it’s not in New Hampshire. It is in Orlando, at the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters.

With George Bush and Karl Rove out of the way, the gathered congregation is split all over the place about whom they will support for 2008.

The word is that the three big names - Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Frank Dobson (of Focus on the Family) are themselves each leaning towards different Candidates.

Falwell favors McCain. Robertson, who hates Falwell in the worst possible (but totally Christian) way, is likely to back Romney - guess age will do that to your brain. And Dobson, who loves himself above all others (again, in a wholly healthy and Christian fashion), will probably plump for former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee - come on, you gotta love faith!

The problem is that these rattlesnake-charmers are suffering from the same blinkered mind-set that plagued the Democrats before 1994 - they've been kingmakers for so long in the corridors of Washington that they don't pay any attention to election results.

Brothers! Brothers! Hello! Your flock went independent on you in 2006. More than half of Christian voters did not follow your lead. Get with the program. Or the service. Or the missal. Whatever.

My prediction about what the Christian Right will do in 2008 goes something like this:

But first, some advice for the Democrats: don't get too cozy about the results from 2006. Last year, Christian voters suddenly got all righteous and touchy-feely. They wanted to give George a bloody nose. And they felt bad about Iraq, Katrina, and particularly the struggling families left behind by many working-class military personnel.

The problem with people shifting their political position is that it's like cheating on your partner - if you do it once, you can do it again.

Frankly, the Democrats face a conundrum with their new majorities on the Hill. First off, they are not naturally liberal Democrat majorities. They are made up of a lot of conservative Democrats, who won in normally Republican areas.

Secondly, those Democrat majorities are pretty much buggered if they do and buggered if they don't. If they do well, those Christians, who shifted over to the Democrats in 2006, may well think "mission accomplished," and go back to supporting perhaps a liberal Republican for President in 2008.

On the other hand, if the Democrats screw up, those same Christians may feel they did wrong by the Lord, and vote once again for a socially conservative disciple of Jesus, rejoining their brethren on the solid and rabid Christian Right.

Now, here's the thing about that psycho Christian Right. I think that they, like their moderate and more left-wing Christian friends, have begun to enjoy the sinful taste of independence.

It is not just that they are sick and tired of Republican Presidents who promise them Armageddon, but then refuse to let rip the fire and brimstone. It's that they are totally fed up with the plump and aging preachers who keep telling them to support those false idols.

And thus it is, yeah verily, that the likes of Huckabee (a former conservative preacher himself), Kansas Senator Sam Brownback (a favorite son of the religious right), California Representative Duncan Hunter and Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo all think they have a real chance with the Christian Right this time round.

But I have to say this - fellas, get real. Wacko, the Christian Right may be. But stupid, they ain't. They know minnows when they see minnows. And you boys be tiddlers. You don't have a prayer.

The exemplary pro-life (but also pro-death penalty, pro-killing in Iraq) evangelists of the Christian Right may well decide not to listen to their earth-bound masters in 2008, but the Holy Spirit is still going to make them plump for one or other of the Republican fat cats. So, which one is it going to be?

Romney? I'm getting bored even typing his name.

Giuliani? Even he knows he's wasting his time courting these voters. He's not intending to speak at the National Religious Broadcasters' meeting at all.

McCain? Hmmaybe. There may be some nose-holding, though. Memories still go back to Mac's talk of "agents of intolerance" in 2000.

So? Yup. You got it. The Dark Horse. The guy all the pundits just love to overlook - Newt Gingrich.

That's my prediction. Look for The Newt to pick up heavily - and unexpectedly - among Christian Right voters, once the caucus and primary season begins in 2008.

In particular, look for a strong showing in South Carolina, which I think Newt will win. Pretty much bringing to a close the campaigns of the minnows. Dealing a death blow to Romney, and seriously denting McCain.

There's even a chance that South Carolina will do for McCain what I predict it will do to Hillary - show that they're both losers in the South. After S.C, Mac may hobble through some more primaries in the North and Mid-West. But The Newt could then seal the deal when the circus tracks back South later in 2008.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"I'm Real. Really!"

Have a certain ring to it...?

It ought to. Much of the article about John in this week’s Newsweek reflects the points I’ve been making - and the way I've been making them - on this blog for some time now. All of them in a bid to help make John the 'real' Candidate he says he wants to be.

Indeed, the parallel between the Newsweek article and OneJohn: Courage, Conviction and Calculation is uncanny.

Well, the good news, John, is that you seem to be accepting the fact that ordinary people are beginning to see the credibility disconnect between the TwoJohns – the ‘real’ John you say you want them to see, and the carefully-protected John they are actually being allowed to see.

The bad news is that you think regular folk will buy that they are seeing the ‘real’ you just because you tell Newsweek you’re trying harder. Real people will know they are finally getting to see the 'real' you when you actually let them do just that.

The funny thing is that, without any prodding from me (or maybe it was because of that prodding – who knows?), you set out both the problem and its solution in this same article. They are there, for all to see, in the following excerpt:
Still, Edwards' new commitment to authenticity may have real roots: in 2004, the candidate learned the hard way that too much caution can be fatal.

When the Kerry campaign faltered, Edwards and his wife were convinced that a broad swath of competing consultants, offering conflicting advice, were largely to blame.

"Consultants can make it hard to tell the truth," Edwards says. "They want you to be so cautious it makes it hard to say anything."

Aides, who didn't want to be named discussing their boss's internal thinking, say he walked away from 2004 convinced that only strong, centralized decision making works in presidential campaigns.
I agree there should be strong, central control of your campaign organization. The Great Blogging Scandal underlines that very point. But not by you - at least, not any more.

You say it yourself: if there’s going to be control of the campaign, and you’re at the center of the campaign, it follows that you have to be subject to that control, too. And that's the very thing we are both agreed gets in the way of real people seeing the 'real' you.

If ordinary folk are going to believe that they are seeing the ‘real’ you, then they have to see something uncontrolled. And you can only do that by separating yourself from your own hugely-choreographed campaign.

I can’t help but feel there should have been an ergo in there somewhere…

So John, one more time. Leave the controlling to Dave. Get away from your campaign. Lose a little control. Go and meet some real people. In real settings. Without too much advance work.

And when you really feel ready to reveal the ‘real’ you, as opposed to hiding it in Newsweek, I’ll be here, waiting to help you do just that in a real, genuinely-revealing, grass-roots, radio interview.

Real questions. Real feelings. Real credibility.


Meet The Boss

Ok. We got way too serious there for a while. Time for some levity...

A few weeks ago, John interviewed with Tim Russert of NBC’s “Meet The Press.’

Let’s rewind. And replay the interview. But this time, imagine Tim as the boss of the company where John is applying for a job…

Tim: Good morning, Mr…ah…Edwards.

John: Hi.

Tim: Now I see your last job was as Director of the Center for Poverty. Did you finish the job...'cos we still seem to have lots of poverty...?

John: Er. Well. No.

Tim: Why not?

John: I wanted this job.

Tim: Can we get a reference from the University of North Carolina?

John: Lemme see. I left the job early... I sued their hospital for malpractice... Er. Probably not.

Tim: And before that, you were a Vice Presidential nominee. How did that go?

John: I lost.

Tim: Ah. Can we get a reference there?

John: Uh...John Kerry… Probably not.

Tim: Hmm. And prior to that, you were a Senator. For just one term. Why did you stop?

John: I was going to lose.

Tim: And…reference…?

John: Er. Probably not.

Tim: So. To summarize. You’re not too good at finishing the job. You have little experience. And you can’t give us any references.

John: That’s about it.

Tim: And you want to be President of the company…?

[Oh come on, John. It's worth a small grin!]

Biden His Time?

Mind you, on the subject of tough causes, there are still some out there who believe that Joe Biden has a chance, notwithstanding his 'open-mouth-insert-foot' comments about Barack's washing habits.

This from The Politico's Roger Simon:

Best Corridor Conversation [at DNC Winter Meeting]: I chatted with Don Fowler, a former chairman of the DNC from South Carolina, and a guy who has forgotten more about Southern politics than most people have ever learned.

The Democratic presidential ticket did not carry a single Southern state last time and I asked Fowler which candidate could carry Southern states this time.

Obama could carry Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina,” said Fowler, who has not endorsed anybody yet. “That is based solely on black voter registration. And [Joe] Biden could carry Florida and Virginia.”

Hmm. Any truth to the rumor that Joe is now going for broke in the fund-raising stakes by filing a paternity suit in respect of Anna Nicole's child...?

[Graphic courtesy of Dustin Ingalls of UNC-CH. I take the view he'll be grateful for any profile anyone gives to Joe...]

Straight-Talker -v- Tightrope-Walker?

John has been getting good news from Newsweek for a couple of months now.

Their December polls showed John as the only Democrat able to beat John McCain. And their January polls confirmed that only John could beat both Mac and Rudy.

The bad news is that it won't be Newsweek deciding the next President. It will probably be Jonny Nascar and Wynette Walmart.

It was they who tipped 2004 in George Bush’s favor. And they'll still be around to deal a potential blow to John’s chances in 2008.

The issue that may make the difference is Iraq – which is why John has been trying to muddy the waters with “The McCain Doctrine.”

Here’s the deal. I’m betting Mac’s advisers have already said to him: Mac, if it’s Edwards (or, indeed, Obama), forget a podium debate. Get up close and personal. Like the ‘conversation’ between Edwards and Cheney, in 2004.

And then keep hitting Edwards with Iraq.

The line will be: forget how we got here; what we need to do now is end it – and what do you know, sonny, about ending a war?

Mac will continue: look, this is a mess. But it was a frat boy that got us into it. And it won’t be another frat boy that gets us out of it. Why don’t you leave this to a grown-up – a grown-up who truly knows about war.

That will play strong with Jonny and Wynnette. And all their friends down at the VFW. The ones who still wave the Confederate Flag, have bumper stickers that boast "We're Real Patriots," and who sing that God-awful Toby Keith song every Friday night at the karaoke.

There's not much else John will be able to do but come back with the line: but...but...Mac, you got us into this, too.

Which will lead to an entertaining spat about blame, and mind-changing, and posturing. But none of that will truly count with Jonny and Wynette. What they will be waiting to hear is what these guys intend to do next.

And that may be the cruncher for John.

The Presidential Election may well come down to John’s perceived credibility on any plan to end the war in Iraq. Not Mac’s.

It won't matter whether Mac's plan is good, bad or indifferent. He has all the credibility the VFW crowd need - he was a Prisoner of War.

The only thing that will make the difference is John's credibility. And even that may have little to do with any war plan.

Rather it may depend on the extent to which John has managed to convince Jonny and Wynette that he is Real. Really.

And, of course, whether he looks as good as George (Bush) and Mac in a Stetson...

[I swiped the 'Rifle Jesus' pic from Jeff Fecke's blog. Only peripheral relevance - God-fearing Jonny, the righteous crusade in Iraq, and all that. But I liked it. So, sue me.]