Opinion: Edwards cracks wise, at the expense of Camp Clinton


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John Edwards continued today to wryly reflect upon the latest contender for most overwrought political release of the year: the missive from Hillary Clinton’s crew over the weekend.

As part of Clinton’s heightened attacks on Barack Obama, the release lambasted her rival in the Democratic presidential race for trying to rewrite his personal history -- not once, but twice on Sunday. His offense: insisting that seeking the White House had not been a consuming ambition for him.

Setting aside the question of whether this is an issue of much import, we concede that the Clintonites marshaled some effective arguments to make their case that Obama has had his eyes on the prize to a greater extent than he may want to admit. But then, as happens so often in the heat of a campaign, the operatives overplayed their hand -- they cited examples from Obama’s days as a third-grader and kindergartner.


Edwards, as The Times’ Scott Martelle noted in a previous blog item, made a crack about those citations last night while campaigning in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Today, while in Waterloo, Iowa, Edwards came up with a better punchline. He told his listeners: ‘’I want to confess to all of you right now -- in third grade, I wanted to be two things: I wanted to be a cowboy, and I wanted to be Superman.’

We appreciate his candor. We also imagine his comment is indicative of Edwards’ awareness, based on his 2004 presidential campaign, that Iowans often reward the candidates who avoid petty sniping.

In other comments in Waterloo...

Edwards indicated that he’s already planning ahead for the presidency -- including drawing up a list of possible Cabinet members. And Edwards’ roster, which he wouldn’t reveal, includes people outside his party.

‘’One of the things that’s different about running for president the second time is instead of spending all your time thinking about being a candidate, you spend a lot of time thinking about being president, and what it is you would do, how you would govern, who you’d want to surround yourself with,’’ Edwards told the lunchtime crowd. ‘’I have already made a list for each of the major Cabinet positions of the people that I would want to consider. Now it’s a little dangerous to say in Democratic circles, but they’re not all Democrats.’’

Edwards said he plans to surround himself with the ‘’strongest, most capable, most independent-minded best people’’ who will challenge him on decisions. Then he took a shot at President Bush -- an easy punchline with the liberal crowd.

‘’I’m not perfect,’’ he said. ‘’I’m capable of making mistakes. We’ve seen what happens with Bush, who surrounded himself with a bunch of ‘yes’ people. They all tell him how great he is, and how smart he is. How wrong could they be?’’


As for a running mate: ‘’You need somebody who shares your vision.’’ Whether that includes his rivals, he told reporters later, ‘’I already have a list of people being considered, and I have no intention of telling who they are.’’

Let the -- premature -- speculation begin.

-- Don Frederick