edwards and the eventual democratic nominee

Posted on January 22, 2008


Let’s start by being upfront here – there is absolutely no chance of John Edwards gaining the Democratic party’s nomination as its presidential candidate.

So even as he tells the media that he had his “ass kicked” in Nevada after only a 4 per cent showing among Democratic voters, he insists on staying in the race for the long haul.

The question, of course, is why.

For a start, it does not appear like he has any hope of winning even a single state during the primary contests, not even his home state, South Carolina, where he was born and grew up. In contrast, he had beaten John Kerry during the Democratic primary there in 2004 by clinching that state.

Edwards is kidding himself if he thinks he is going to be anything other than the third-place finisher behind Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He is already almost forgotten in many instances, such as in tonight’s televised Democratic debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. The two front-runners were furiously exchanging arguments and trading barbs back and forth, leaving Edwards looking more like another observer rather than a participant. You almost feel sorry for him when he chimed in at one point, “Are there three people in this debate, not two?”

Media coverage for Edwards had likewise been sagging, as the reporter-count trailing him continues to dwindle.

At this point, the only reason for Edwards to stay in the race despite the odds, is the hope of influencing the race and become a king- or queen-maker.

His aides told the New York Times that he is picking up delegates despite his third-place showing and these do add up.

As a white man, Edwards splits the votes of white voters with Clinton and ends up siphoning votes from her, to the benefit of Obama. It is a spoiler role that he seems to relish, given his very obvious siding with Obama and his citing of Obama and himself as the “candidates of change” while disparaging Clinton as the “candidate of the status quo”.

But lately, he has been hedging his bets and is tempering his bias towards Obama by starting to play nicer towards Clinton.

Witness first Edwards’ attack on Obama for his remarks that former Republican president Ronald Reagan was an example of change.

Then in a reversal from his usual fashion of agreeing with Obama to bash Clinton during televised debates, Edwards seemed to be more on Clinton’s side in tonight’s debates, for instance questioning Obama’s mere “present” votes in the Senate and hitting Obama’s proposed health care plan for not having universal coverage.

Breaking this development down, Edwards must know that after his dismal showing in the recent contests, his time will be coming up soon, especially as the money eventually dries up.

After years of campaigning for the presidency yet with his chance of getting the top prize increasingly bleak, he must be hoping to still be relevant by gaining the consolation prize. The political animal that he is, Edwards is positioning himself be courted by both the front-runners as the vice-presidential candidate, first by backing Obama who had all the momentum behind him after surprisingly winning Iowa, then now trying to get into Clinton’s good books, since she is looking like the candidate who could still beat Obama after all.

But it’s apparent that a part of him still refuses to concede that his shot at the presidential nomination is all but over, as seen in his few attempts to stay above the fray during tonight’s debate, in the hope that voters would be turned off by the Clinton-Obama bickering and shift their votes towards him instead.

Edwards has to face reality. The only way he could still be involved would be as one of the two’s vice-presidential candidate – and that’s if either of them wants him, after his duplicitous and cynical support. It is doubtful that Clinton would forget the slights he inflicted on her easily. Edwards’ better hope is probably that Obama gets the nomination so that he stands a chance of being asked to be on the ticket.