August 17, 2007

"Beneath the pretty-boy exterior, there is something fierce lurking inside."

David Brooks on John Edwards. A fierce thing lurking inside -- sounds like an animal! Whatever it is, "[i]t comes out in his resentment toward those born to privilege (which helped sour his relationship with John Kerry)."

42 comments:

EnigmatiCore said...

""[i]t comes out in his resentment toward those born to privilege"

He hates his kids?

Or does he make an exception for them?

(Yes, I know his son died. I understand and feel horrible about that. However, I do not think that makes him immune from comments I would otherwise make.)

Bissage said...

It seems that some TimesSelect barriers are more non-existent than others.

Revenant said...

He hates his kids?

Yeah, that was my first reaction, too.

James said...

The entire column is up John Edwards campaign site.

I've been amusing myself by reading the John Edward Fabulous Facts at IMAO.com which are like Chuck Norris facts, only in reverse.

Bissage said...

Something fierce lurking inside?

I’ll admit John Edwards is pretty cute.

But Nastassja Kinski is more my type.

Nothing personal there, Johnny-boy.

EnigmatiCore said...

The glamour boys wear the most expensive clothes
The glamour boys are always at the party
Where the money comes from heaven only knows
I ain't no glamour boy - I'M FIERCE
I ain't no glamour boy - (snap)
I ain't no glamour boy - I'M FIERCE
I ain't no glamour boy

GeorgeH said...

Edwards was born lower middle class and by hard work and a raging inferiority complex reduced himself to rich white trash.

EnigmatiCore said...

James, those are a hoot!

"When John Edwards gets that sad, puppy dog look, even Fred Thompson starts getting a little misty."

Paddy O. said...

Edwards is a North American caudillo wannabe. Like Chavez, and so many other Latin American leaders over the last couple of centuries.

His rhetoric for the poor is betrayed by his passion for money. He is speaks the language of populism but lives the life of the wealthy. Always grabbing after whatever dollar he can, even as he seeks to control everyone else's lives.

A fairly rare breed for American politics. But, all too common south of the border, leading to disastrous, yet immensely popular, governments. His current poll numbers show why a caudillo type just don't fit in this country.

ricpic said...

Pretty boys are always vicious.

SnowDahlia said...

I admire John Edwards, if only taking a losing cause (poverty, which no one really cares about except the poor, who don't vote in large numbers) and running with it. It tells me he's got some principles. And so what if he resents people born to privelege? Many such individuals don't have a clue about what average people think about or worry about. Take our own president, for example, who likes to pretend that he's an average guy but isn't and never was. Doesn't anybody find that particular shtick a little cynical?

Kirby Olson said...

He's the only Democrat I thought I could stand. Now he's whining and having all these resentments to try to fit in with the party of resentment and whining.

The problem is that unlike race and gender, you can change classes. Well, you can at least have a better bank account even if you still don't have any class.

Why do the Democrats want to foreground the chips on their shoulders?

It just makes them seem petty and puerile. What happened to this party?

The Democrats used to be able to ignite principle-oriented thinking about America's future. Ask not, and all that.

Now it's just put your hand out and whine and whine and whine to see what you can get for your special-interest group.

Needy drama-queens with their fancy dos. Best of luck.

Invisible Man said...

It's cute to see so many Free Republic-types join Ann in her schoolyard taunts of Democrats. Let's see how many ways we can call John Edwards "effeminate"? Go.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Take our own president, for example, who likes to pretend that he's an average guy but isn't and never was. Doesn't anybody find that particular shtick a little cynical?"

You are using this to defend Edwards?

Oooo kayyyyyy.

Sir Archy said...
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Sir Archy said...

To Professor Althouse:

Madam,

As someone dead these 200 years, I should like to remind you of the Namesake of your Senator Edwards from my Day:
One Rev. Jonathan Edwards of Enfield, Massachusetts, New England.  If you care to gaze upon his Likeness, you will see that he is no Pretty Boy, yet it cannot be said that he lacked anything in the way of Fierceness.  Senator Edwards seems to want to partake of something of the Reputation of a Cromwell or even a Wat Tyler for Ferocity, all the while remaining a Gentleman of comfortable Means.  Is the Publick convinc'd that Sen. Edwards stands resolute against Depredations of ancient Liberties for which these famous Men stood?  To paraphrase our English Bard, Methinks the scribbler of Senator Edwards' Apologia doth protest too much.

I make bold to quote from the Reverend Edwards most famous Production, a Sermon entitled "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God:"

        DEUT. 32:35.
        Their foot shall slide in due time.

        ...As he that walks in slippery Places is every Moment liable to fall;
        he can’t foresee one Moment whether he shall stand or fall the next;
        and when he does fall, he falls at once, without Warning....

Sen. Edwards has long since slipp'd.  If he were to fall away, it were well.  He may do so with or without Warning to a yawning Publick.

I fear I have taken too much Space in your Theatre of Topicks, and so, returning to the Obscurity that is the Fate of Ghosts, I remain, Madam,

Your Humble & Obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

Paddy O. said...

It's cute to see so many Free Republic-types join Ann in her schoolyard taunts of Democrats.

School yard taunts? What school did you go to?

These are pretty sophisticated taunts. Psychological analysis, Latin American historical terminology, class consideration, logic, semi-obscure popular culture. That's good stuff.

And what's Free Republic?

SMGalbraith said...

schoolyard taunts of Democrats.

Well, all the good ones have been taken.

Monkeyboy, Chimphitler, neoscum....

Now there's sophisticated discourse.

Simon said...

SnowDahlia said...
"I admire John Edwards, if only taking a losing cause (poverty, which no one really cares about except the poor, who don't vote in large numbers) and running with it. It tells me he's got some principles."

It should tell you that he thinks there are votes in it. It should tell you that he either doesn't agree with you about the voting proclivities of the poor, or if he agrees with you that he thinks championing this cause will persuade the poor to vote for him, or that he thinks that appearing to champion the poor will win votes among other liberal groups who do vote.

reader_iam said...

I've got (as I've had) a problem with the pretty-boy premise--read: "hook"--from the git-go, as such. Too easy, and I mean that in multiple ways.

In addition, how notable the unsophisticated approach(es) used in pursuit of sophisticated commentary on the unsophisticated/sophisticated nexus that is Edward's (quite legitimate, in many ways, both sophisticated and unsophisticated) life experience. This is a general statement, not a limited, specific one.

I may not be an Edwards fan, but I'm notably less impressed by the flabby responses with regard to him and the relevant underlying issues, which lazy responses constitute the vast majority (the most, even), from all sides and POVs.

Pfuie!

jeff said...

Ok there Nero. Yet you accept Edwards simplistic stories or anecdotes at face value?

Revenant said...

It should tell you that he thinks there are votes in it.

Exactly. The lowest income quintile is one of the Democratic Party's largest demographics.

Hillary's got the women's rights crowd locked up. Obama has a big edge among the blacks. That leaves the unions, the Hispanics, and the poor up for grabs.

rcocean said...

I thought Edwards had potential. If only the Democrats would nominate someone popular in the red states with a populist message.

Too bad he's so bad at PR. And attacking a TV talking head/ columnist and calling her a "she-devil" doesn't make him more presidential.

reader_iam said...

Also, in a comment unrelated my just previous, I have to seriously wonder whether this column was cut due to space.

Why? Because the last graf doesn't even qualify as a penultimate one, much less an ending.

If this is not so ... eh, well--I'd like to know for sure either way before supplying the first adjective that jumped to attention.

Michael said...

reader_iam: I've got (as I've had) a problem with the pretty-boy premise...

Yea. Edwards is such an √úbermensch that he has to send his wife out to defend him.

Mutaman said...

"He hates his kids?"

No, that's Rudy. No, wait, Rudy would be -- his kid's hate him.

Mutaman said...

No, Rudy would be-- His kids hate him. That's it.

Balfegor said...

It's cute to see so many Free Republic-types join Ann in her schoolyard taunts of Democrats. Let's see how many ways we can call John Edwards "effeminate"? Go.

Really, it's not "Democrats" in general -- it's Edwards. He's like a joke candidate. His wife whines that they can't make him Black or a woman, but that's just a sad attempt to obscure the fact that he is so completely outclassed by his rivals in every way. Except for looking pretty. Clinton II would be a better candidate than him even if she were a man. Obama would be a better candidate than him even if he were White.

When Clinton and Obama come up, there's certainly people who will mock them. Obama in particular, over the last few weeks. But there's more criticism than outright taunting, because both Clinton and Obama seem like genuine candidates, even if they occasionally say/do stupid things (and Obama has that creepy personality-cult thing going), and even if most of the regular posters here would probably oppose either of them fervently. They both seem like serious people. Edwards does not.

Simon said...

Balfegor - I don't think that's true. I think Edwards has a lot more substance - bad substance, IMO, but substance nevertheless - than Obama. Of course, that egg salad sandwich Ann ate the other day has more political substance than Obama, so the bar is pretty low. I think HDhouse is a more serious contender for the Presidency - he at least has occaisionally marshalled cogent arguments and isn't ashamed of his contempt for people who disagree with him.

reader_iam said...

Michael: As I said--"Too easy, and I mean that in multiple ways."

reader_iam said...

Clinton II would be a better candidate than him even if she were a man. Obama would be a better candidate than him even if he were White.

Too easy.

Beldar said...

The seeds of the falling out between Kerry and Edwards was over who had the best hair as between them. They papered over the dispute for a time by claiming that their ticket had the best hair, which was a cheap shot at Cheney, of course. But the Edwards/Kerry partnership never really survived Wahl Clipper Corp.'s survey results showing that Dubya had better hair than either of them.

(Okay, that's pretty close to a schoolyard taunt, but it's not a direct knock on Kerry's or Edward's manliness.)

Pogo said...
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Pogo said...
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Pogo said...

reader_iam's criticism about attacks on Edwards is deserved. He does have some easy faults to easy to flay.

But some are simply archetypes, understood as sufficient argument even if never fully developed.

1. Pretty boy. Edwards fails to recognize that he was born to privilege, by being uncommonly handsome. Social scientists consider it unearned advantage much as wealth, for it fosters the social contacts that enable wealth. He made great use of it, which is no fault, but he cannot claim to be one with me, who grew up lower middle income and decidedly unpretty (ask my wife). Most of us are serviceable at best, mutts. We make do. He shows lack of substance and hypocricy when he attempts to get chummy with the help when we all know how he treated his less-well-off neighbor.

2. Effeminate. He displays excessive vanity. A deadly sin except in Hollywood. From the primping video to the expensive haircuts, he fails to learn that those little errors flag a deeper concern: he is not a manly man. Such vanity is traditionally reserved for women, who have something to be vain about because, well, women are beautiful; men not so much. A beautiful man is suspect because he seems less of a leader. I am not defending this, but it is our culture. It is not merely that he is vain where other Senators are not (clearly untrue), but that it is egregious and over time he has not learned from his colleagues -or the criticism- to hide it for god's sake.

3. Hypocrite. He has/had a chip on his shoulder about the rich. The shame he felt over being poor drove him hard, and he succeeded, wildly so. Now he is of the class he despised. What has he learned? Not that others should be trained to succeed and given a level playing field to win against those with a leg up. No, he favors the populist redistributional approach. Not creating wealth, but taking it from one group to a favored other. This is how a trial lawyer gets revenge, of course. But it's unAmerican. No one truly loves the poor who removes their best chance at success by making them a ward of the state.

Richard Fagin said...

Sen. Edwards is in fact exceptionally talented, at least in his chosen professional field. One would not want to face him in a courtroom as defense counsel. Indeed there is something fierce inside, and in the hands of a talented demagogue like Sen. Edwards it's a little unnerving. He was the capability to "sell" 12 people something that is demonstrably false. I have seen others like him over the years, including Joe Jamail, who convinced 12 Houston jurors to take $10 billion from Texaco to make whole Pennzoil for a mere $500 million in actual losses on a contract, John O'Quinn, who bankrupted one of America's finest companies, Owens-Corning, on compeltely false claims of health issues caused by breast implants, and Mark Lanier, who convinced jurors that Merck willfully placed a dangerous product in commerce.

Wildly successful toxic tort lawyers share a common trait, and it is the ability to even convince themsevles of wrongdoing when there clearly is none. If one hasn't convinced himself, how can he convince anyone else. In this respect, the firebrand populist is no different than Hugo Chavez, Castro, Juan Peron, and who knows how many others that can convince otherwise rational people of the truth of demonstrably false things.

Sen. Edwards is right about one thing. There are two Americas. They are not the "haves" and the "have nots" any more, though. The two Amiercas in this day and age are the "dos" and the "do nots" or the "wills" and the "will nots." One would do well to remember that when making class resentment a campaign theme.

Bruce Hayden said...

Best comment of the thread was the first one, about Edwards resented his kids because they were born to privilege. And that brings out the reality that most of those born to privilege in this country had near ancestors who weren't.

I think that the pretty boy tag is ultimately more devastating than the tag of hypocrisy. Indeed, I would suggest that one of the sets of images that helped Bush win in the last election was Kerry in his colorful spandex on his road bike versus a sweaty Bush in shorts on his mountain bike. Always, but esp. in time of war, we tend to prefer the more manly man to lead us. And most of us aren't pulled in by posturing.

Democratic politicians seem to get into this sort of problem more than Republicans do. But Bill Clinton was able to easily survive an expensive haircut. My suggestion for that is that a certain amount of primping was seen as almost required for his level of womanizing, and because of that well known womanizing, got a pass on his vanity.

Unfortunately for Edwards' wife though, that means that the solution would be for him to be caught with another woman, and then Mrs. Edwards explain that with her cancer, age, etc., she just can't keep up with him sexually, esp. given his extremely high sex drive, and so has given him permission to cat around. As long as she backs him 100% there, he should be just fine. (Of course, some of us would ask how he still has such a large sex drive at his real age... and that maybe testosterone treatments were themselves indications of vanity).

Bruce Hayden said...

Of course, the question that is not asked, but should be, is why is this an issue?

My suggestion is that it is an issue because the Clinton spin machine has found a niche in Edwards' armor and has declared it to be an issue.

I really do suspect the Clinton machine here. But so what? Politics, esp. at this level, is a blood sport. The fact that her machine can make this stick is more a reflection on how good she is, and really not how bad Edwards is.

So, yes, I think that Hillary will be the Democratic nominee, but that isn't because her nomination was foreordained, but rather, because she is the best major Democratic candidate running.

I don't trust her, and don't like her. But I do respect her, and her abilities. And it is my respect for her abilities that makes me think that this very successful attack on Edwards is coming out of her campaign.

Anthony said...

The Democrats used to be able to ignite principle-oriented thinking about America's future. Ask not, and all that.

I don't think they've changed all that much in that regard. FDR was privileged among the privileged. JFK was about as blue-blood upper crust as you could get, and you quoted him!

Someone wrote an article about that not too long ago. Identity politics ensured that the wealthy could never been seen to be "speaking for the poor".

Bruce Hayden said...

Interesting to me, Edwards' campaign strategy seems to be to attack Ann Coulter. Latest is apparently calling her a "she devil".

While this may look good to the Kos crowd, it is unlikely to win in a general election. Not because that many people like Ann, but because it makes Edwards look juvenile (and reminds us that his wife had to defend him with Coulter not so long ago).

So, while Hillary is making herself look more and more presidential, Edwards is making himself look ever more childish.

Paddy O. said...

Bruce,that kind of stuff plays well in Venezuela, however.

Simon Kenton said...

"Beneath the pretty-boy exterior, there is something fierce lurking inside."

Nobody else is reminded of Aliens? Not just waiting for the tentacle to burst out, but the savage battle of the females raging around him?