|Back in January, when he dropped out of the presidential race after failing to win or place in any of the first four contests, John Edwards had a great deal of political capital to spend. He could have thrown his weight behind either of the two front-runners at any time; before "Tsunami Tuesday," before "secondarily Super Tuesday," February 19th, before the big Texas, Ohio or Pennsylvania primaries ... any of those times would have given Edwards major ink. But then, of course, the ink would have run dry, his time in the spotlight would have faded, and he'd be "John Edwards Who?" before you know it.
By holding out until later in the game, Edwards preserved his mystique, and his viability as a possible running mate for the eventual winner.
Not anymore. John Edwards' chance to be a player in the presidential race of 2008 is draining out little by little, as North Carolina voters go to the polls today. You can almost hear the sound of destiny riding off into the sunset.
See, had Edwards, who was born in South Carolina but represented North Carolina in the Senate for one term, come out and endorsed either Barack or Hillary before this week, he would have provided valuable atmospherics to Hillary as a winner, or Barack as a guy white guys with a drawl can hang with, which would have been helpful in Indiana, too. Edwards still has a national constituency, particularly among left wing Democrats, and had he endorsed, he might at least have made Barack's vice presidential short list, or the short list for "poverty czar" in a HRC administration. Not that he would have ultimately made the cut, but making the list would have stretched his 15 minutes a few minutes more.
Instead, Edwards is just an observer of the NC and Indiana primaries, like everybody else.
Perhaps he's holding out to try to be a player at the convention. But with just 19 delegates (which, who knows, could be decisive at this point I guess) and the fact that he failed to carry either of his home states in 2004 as John Kerry's running mate, and the fact that in reality, his political power in North Carolina is about bupkis, about the only real card Edwards and his wife Elizabeth had to play was the endorsement card. Even if they had split their endorsement -- John for Barack, Elizabeth for Hillary -- they would have preserved their news value going into the June cycle. And even with his liabilities (short time in the Senate, rich lawyer with puffy hair persona,) Edwards was a decent choice, at least for the short list, particularly since he has had the experience running as wing man in a national campaign (I used to call Barack-Edwards "the Miami Vice ticket," only with Crockett and Tubbs reversed.)
But now, all that's left are Edwards' faults, and his failure to play his strongest hand when it really counted. And sorry, guys, the People Magazine thing ain't gonna keep you interesting.
Labels: 2008 election, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, John Edwards, politics, presidential candidates, presidential primaries