The primary campaigns are well into the Antagonist stage
where candidates identify and exploit their opponents’ weaknesses. No party can
afford a long love fest focused on only one candidate. That happened to the
Dems with John Kerry and when he was eventually – and inevitably – swift boated
he was predictably caught flat-footed.
But you don’t want the intramural shoving to draw so much
blood that come November it’s hard for everyone to be on the same team. Last
night’s Dem debate in Myrtle Beach came very close to crossing that line. It was John Edwards that saved the day.
To recap the key moment: Obama was jabbing at Hillary for
“not telling the truth.” Hillary ducked her head slightly to the left then neatly
reached around and rabbit punched Obama by bringing up the fact that he once worked for a Chicago
slumlord. It brought an audible gasp from the crowd. We tend to think of
Hillary as the Senator from New York, or the First Lady from Arkansas, but she
comes out of the Windy City and is still a die-hard Cubs fan. The rules of
Chicago political debate start in the gutter and don’t get much higher. Obama
comes from the same streets – he
shouldn’t have been surprised. The press loved it. Nothing like the scent of blood
for hot headlines.
But before lasting damage to party unity could occur John E.
demanded the floor and hit hard with two questions: One – “Are there three
candidates up here or just two?” which forced the MSM narrative of “the
showdown in South Carolina” to be opened up to include both him and the policy
issues he raises. Two “Just how many children are going to get the health
care they desperately need because of this squabbling?” bringing the debate
back to real problems and the real obstacles ahead.
With this courtroom experience John E. knows you can win the
argument and still lose the jury – and in this election the jury is still out. Like many I give this debate to John Edwards.
If he drops out, we all lose.