Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hey, Did You Hear Edwards Is Rich?

The print media, at least, do seem to have it in for John Edwards. The Daily Star finally got around to running his profile in their daily series this morning, under this head courtesy of McClatchy (!):

Why is it ringing hollow? Because he's running as a populist, railing against classism and wealth disparity, while--wait for it--being a rich man himself. In a nutshell, because he's rich himself but speaking for the poor (or, alternately constructed, because he's speaking for the poor but rich himself), he's a hypocrite.


He did come from a poor mill family. He did transfer to far less expensive NC State after failing to earn a football scholarship at Clemson. He did make a fortune as a malpractice lawyer. He did get that famous $400 haircut. All of these things are true, but that doesn't mean they automatically cancel each other out. Unless, of course, you rely on a GOP chairman to connect the dots for you.

"The problem is that he has taken as his signature issue (poverty), something he hasn't shown a great deal of background or interest in," said Jack Hawke, a former North Carolina Republican Party chairman. "It's hard to understand his conversion."

The very next section in the story?

Involved in helping the poor

But Edwards' involvement in social issues is deeper than his critics give him credit for.
Before entering politics, he was heavily involved in Urban Ministries, a local program that helps the poor.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, also spent several million dollars creating two after-school learning labs primarily to serve poor children at two North Carolina high schools.

This would have been far a better choice for a lede, as it better sets up the contradiction between perception and policy and has the potential to reel in readers whose only knowledge of John Edwards is the Breck Girl image that's been foisted onto him. Unfortunately, it's buried in the middle of the article, well after the jump to page 4 that readers may or may not have made, where it's no competition for the 24-pt bold headline stating that his actual material and policy work rings hollow due to perception. No, the third paragraph says, he doesn't wear $2000 suits, but he did get that $400 haircut. Apparently only the poor can credibly fight for the poor in America. And we all know how far that's going to fly in a country where being a multimillionaire is a de facto requirement for running a serious presidential campaign.

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