Tuesday, April 26, 2005

In The Bullpen

From Salon.com, Peter Dizikes reports on John Edwards and what he’s planning for 2008.

In 2008, when George W. Bush will be a semipopular president leaving office for good, the next Democratic candidate will face a new challenge and a new opponent, but will still need a broad, compelling critique of Republican ideas and practices. Edwards may not find it, but then again, he just might.


Maybe he’ll run and maybe he won’t, but Edwards is laying the campaign groundwork, just in case.

In the meantime, Edwards has taken a position as head of a new institute tailored to his interests: the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received his law degree. Read into this what you want, but Edwards’ position is described by the University as a part-time role, and it has a two-year term.

Still, Edwards only finished a distant second in the 2004 primaries, as the senior senator from North Carolina — and then garnered mixed reviews during the general election, following his uneven convention speech, a stalemate in the vice-presidential debate, and his limited impact in the final months of the campaign. So how can Edwards improve as a candidate in 2008, holding no office and burdened with a losing record in presidential races? Indeed, Edwards is in the most unusual position of all the potential Democratic hopefuls: Outside of the formal structure of his own party, unable to burnish his political resumé by conventional means, and unable to use political office to gain media attention.

On the other hand, Edwards is now free to craft his own message, without senatorial duties or the weight of a long voting record that can be used against him. The king of retail campaigning could have, in effect, four years of retail politics ahead of him.

If John Edwards plans to make the run in 2008 as an out-of-office campaigner by collecting IOU’s from state and county candidates in 2006, he’s got a lot of history working in his favor — that’s how Richard Nixon rehabilitated himself in 1968 and Ronald Reagan did it in 1980, both after courting disaster within their own party (Nixon cratered after the 1960 loss to Kennedy and his ill-fated run for California governor in 1962, and Reagan is blamed for weakening Jerry Ford in 1976 by running against him in the primaries, giving the election to Jimmy Carter). A lot of Democrats will have more than just a passing interest in fielding a candidate who is not the lightning rod that is Hillary Clinton.

PS: Iddybud has been carrying the torch for John Edwards since the election and before. Check out her blog for the latest Edwards news.