Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Elisabeth Edwards -- Venus Flytrap?

In a post over at Democratic Central Elizabeth Edwards -- Steel Magnolia, Mrs. Edwards is praised for her attack on Ann Coulter in a pre-arranged call-in on Hardball:

Right on, Elizabeth Edwards!

After Ann Coulter went on national television Monday morning expressing her wish that John Edwards would be assassinated, she appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews. It was a call-in show, and Elizabeth Edwards called in.
Oddly, Edwards is not praised for questioning Ann's "assassination" comment, which of course was just an example of how the media engages in selective outrage (Ann was simply noting that when she was being castigated for using the word "Faggot", Maher was given a pass after saying that he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terror attack).

Rather, Elisabeth chose to bring up a column Ann Coulter had written in 2003, which questioned the Democratic Presidential candidate field for using dead relatives as political props:

You wrote a column a couple of years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean's death, and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that said ask me about my dead son. This is not legitimate political dialogue.
Here is the original quote from the article by Coulter, The Party of Ideas:

At least when Gephardt exploits a family tragedy, he doesn't expect praise for not exploiting a family tragedy. John Edwards injects his son's fatal car accident into his campaign by demanding that everyone notice how he refuses to inject his son's fatal car accident into his campaign.

Edwards has talked about his son's death in a 1996 car accident on "Good Morning America," in dozens of profiles and in his new book. ("It was and is the most important fact of my life.") His 1998 Senate campaign ads featured film footage of Edwards at a learning lab he founded in honor of his son, titled "The Wade Edwards Learning Lab." He wears his son's Outward Bound pin on his suit lapel. He was going to wear it on his sleeve, until someone suggested that might be a little too "on the nose."

If you want points for not using your son's death politically, don't you have to take down all those "Ask me about my son's death in a horrific car accident" bumper stickers? Edwards is like a politician who keeps announcing that he will not use his opponent's criminal record for partisan political advantage. (I absolutely refuse to mention the name of my dearly beloved and recently departed son killed horribly in a car accident, which affected me deeply, to score cheap political points.

I wouldn't want John Edwards to be president, but I think even Karl Rove would be willing to stipulate that the death of a son is a terrible thing.
So as you can see, Ann never suggested he had an actual bumper sticker on his car. She was saying that believing a son's death was a tragedy was not a "democratic" position, and Edward's grief was not a defining aspect of his qualifications for the office of President.

But the more important question is, has Elisabeth looked in the mirror? I'm not sure whether there's much of a line anymore to cross when it comes to speaking about a public official running for a public office. But what about a public figure, say, Elisabeth Edwards, attacking a private citizen?:

Elizabeth Edwards says she is scared of the "rabid, rabid Republican" who owns property across the street from her Orange County home — and she doesn't want her kids going near the gun-toting neighbor.
The Edwards family has yet to meet Johnson in person. "I wouldn't be nice to him anyway," Edwards said in an interview.
Edwards views Johnson as a "rabid, rabid Republican" who refuses to clean up his "slummy" property just to spite her family, whose lavish 28,000-square-foot estate is nearby on 102 wooded acres.
So if criticizing a former Senator running for President for using his son's death as a political prop is not "legitimate political dialogue", what can we say about his wife calling her neighbor "rabid" and accusing him of purposely keeping a "slummy" property?

Not that her husband is free from hate speech. After all, he was recently caught saying "I hate Duke Basketball". Maybe Elisabeth should call the next talk show he appears on to ask him why he is using such inappropriate "political dialogue"?

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