Thursday, September 11, 2003

It's a good day to be John Edwards.

It opened with the papers focusing exclusively on Lieberman and Dean's disagreement over how to address the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Edwards was a footnote.

Then, Nedra Pickler interviewed John Edwards, and she printed his criticism of Dean's assertion, "I'm the only white politician that ever talks about race in front of white audiences."

"I think what Howard Dean said last night does a disservice to everyone he stood next to and all the people before us who have raised this issue over and over again in front of all audiences," Edwards said. Suddenly, Edwards' name was in the news.

Then, after speaking to the the Service Employees International Union, Edwards went "from almost no support to one of the top-three candidates," according to Andrew Stern, the union's president. "John Edwards really captured the energy of the room." Again, Edwards' name was in the news, and this time, not simply in response to Dean.

Now, Dean is responding to Edwards - and not in a way that will silence the criticism: "I don't know what his context is, but I said exactly what I said last night at Jesse Jackson's PUSH forum out in Chicago about two months ago, and I never heard a peep from any of these candidates about that."

"I think a lot of this stuff is motivated by my position in the polls right now, and that's part of politics. I don't think it's a good part of politics, though."

Dean's right; if he weren't leading, no one would pay attention to what he said, no matter how false. But he is leading, and people are paying attention - and simply because they didn't criticize his hyperbolic rhetoric before doesn't render it true now. If this story continues, he'll probably realize that.

Update: From what I've read elsewhere, the SEIU vote ranked Dean first, Edwards second, and Gephardt third. Edwards was in the top two as well as the top three.