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Elizabeth Edwards: Attacker-in-Chief


Elizabeth Edwards has emerged as the attacker-in-chief for her husband's presidential campaign, and it is a job to which she is well-suited.

I do not say this because I think she is a mean person — she is not — but because she so completely believes that her husband would make the best president that she feels free to characterize his Democratic opponents as visionless and power-hungry.

And those who are attacked by Elizabeth Edwards don't really want to attack her back. What would be the point?

She gets great press, she is bravely battling cancer while keeping up an exhausting campaign schedule, and besides, she is not running for anything.

Which allows her to lash out without getting lashed back. And she has used that power effectively.

In July, Elizabeth Edwards attacked Hillary Clinton for not speaking out enough on behalf of women.

"She's just not as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see," Edwards told Salon magazine. "John is."

Then came an Elizabeth Edwards interview with blogger Ed Cone early this month, which was more explosive.

Cone wrote: "With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama hogging media coverage, campaigns can push their messages without paying for ads. 'In some ways, it's the way we have to go,' Edwards said. 'We can't make John black; we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fund-raising dollars.'"

As Marc Ambinder pointed out in his blog, Elizabeth Edwards seemed to say that a "rich white guy in the South is oppressed by his race or gender."

But the Clinton campaign and the Obama campaign did not lash back.

Now, Elizabeth Edwards has given a long interview to The Progressive magazine in which she mulls the inadequacies of the rest of the field.

"The problem for me with the other candidates is I don't know what it is that drives them," Edwards says.

She goes on: "What do you hear these other people saying (about poverty)? Not one word. It's fine to go give a speech on inequity. But I don't for a minute think it's what drives these other candidates. I don't."

Not only do they lack core beliefs, but they are also gutless plagiarists.

"Sometimes it seems we have these beliefs but it turns out it's like a Hollywood set: It's all facade, and there's no guts behind it," Elizabeth Edwards says.

"You listen to the language of what people say, particularly Obama, who seems to be using a lot of John's 2004 language, which is maybe not surprising, since one of his speechwriters was one of our speechwriters, his media guy was our media guy."

OK, so that is what the attacker in chief is supposed to do, right?

Right. Which is why it is so interesting that when it comes to the war in Iraq, Elizabeth Edwards lets Hillary Clinton off the hook.

Though John Edwards has said his vote to authorize the war in Iraq was a mistake for which he apologizes, Hillary Clinton has consistently refused to do either.

But in her Progressive interview, Elizabeth Edwards says: "Now Hillary, I don't know what Hillary's objection is. She, even in the New Hampshire debate, said, 'I made a mistake.' People are looking for a mea culpa from her."

Except Hillary never said, "I made a mistake."

On April 26 in a debate in Orangeburg, S.C., Clinton was asked to name the "most significant political or professional mistake you have made in the past four years."

She replied: "Well, I don't have enough time to tell you all the mistakes I've made in the last many years. Certainly the mistakes I made around health care were deeply troubling to me and interfered with our ability to get our message out — and, you know, believing the president when he said that he would go to the United Nations and put inspectors into Iraq to determine whether they had WMDs."

Then, in a June 3 debate in Manchester, N.H., Mike Gravel attacked those Democrats who made a "political" rather than a "moral" judgment about authorizing the war.

Hillary responded: "Well, I have said repeatedly that if I had known then what I know now, I never would have voted to give the president authority. And in the last debate, I said that, you know, it was a mistake to trust George Bush that he would do what he told all of us he would do. ... Now, I do not think that that is a necessarily wrong judgment at the time. What was wrong is the way this president misused the authority that some of us here gave him. And that has been a tragedy."

Which is pretty careful parsing. (I wonder where she gets it?)

According to Hillary Clinton, it was a "mistake to trust George Bush." But Hillary's vote to authorize the war was not a mistake, because it was not "a necessarily wrong judgment at the time."

Confused? Don't be. Elizabeth Edwards is, too. She wouldn't miss a chance to bash Hillary if she weren't.

To find out more about Roger Simon, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



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