I just listed to the excellent Tom Ashbrook on NPR discuss the Iowa results and he had to finally ask one of his guests, a Democratic talk show host, about John Edwards second place showing. No one had mentioned his name until then. There was a long pause and the guest finally said he did well and then launched into how the vote in Iowa was good for McCain.

The supporters of every candidate believe their choice doesn't get enough press or gets press that is unfairly biased against them. Among all leading candidates in both parties I think Edwards supporters have easily the most legitimate reason to complain.

The legitimate first story about Democrats is the Obama-Clinton finish. But the story of the person who came in second doesn't seem to be worth mentioning.

Why not?

The last three Democrats to be elected President (Carter, Clinton, and Gore) were all Southerners and Edwards is the only Southerner in the race. That, one would guess, would be a positive thing for him, but it's not. With the isolated national media clan it's a major negative.

How, then, did Carter, Clinton and Gore get past this prejudice? By talking about specific issues and staking out reasonable positions. The public supported that and elected them, even as the clan universally and unrelentingly smeared (and continues to smear) them.

Edwards is different in one major respect: his major theme is incomprehensible to the clan. Two Americas? Corporate control? The clan reacts with a blank look and replies, "How 'bout that Obama-Hillary race!"

In the DailyKos polls Edwards is the run-away favorite and certainly the most progressive and non-business-as-usual candidate. Of all the major candidates in both parties if a voter is looking for change, Edwards is the obvious choice.

But what's the move? The Republicans flounce around with half a dozen weak and deeply flawed candidates, and that's newsworthy to the clan. The Democrats have three strong candidates but only two are newsworthy to the clan. How does Edwards change that? He has already taken good and solid positions on important issues such health care, the war, truth and justice, and even set the pace in rejecting Fox News.

Suppose he starts running for President, not for the primaries. Suppose he begins running against the Republicans, not other Democratic candidates. Suppose he starts hammering away at "the Republican Economy." As a theme it fits beautifully with his "Two Americas", and, equally important, it is the overriding issue for most people in the country and will only get more important between now and November. It would lift his candidacy and at the same time make his theme dominate the debates to the point where even the clan would have to pay attention. "The Republican Economy" "The Republican Economy" "The Republican Economy"

Originally posted to A Southerner in Yankeeland on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 05:13 PM PST.

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