News

Edwards takes political gamble with holiday offensive

Jim Morrill
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Laura Belin plans to take her children to a Memorial Day parade Monday. There, at the urging of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, she expects to join others protesting the war in Iraq.

"Everyone knows that we're going to have to start getting our troops out," said Belin, 38, who's from suburban Des Moines, Iowa. "And we need to start getting them out now."

Edwards has called on Americans to "honor the memory of the fallen by acting to end the war and bring (U.S. troops) home." The former North Carolina senator also is asking people to honor the troops with prayer or even a word of thanks.

But his appeal to speak out or attend holiday observances this weekend with signs saying "Support the Troops - End the War" has drawn protests of its own.

"Memorial Day has always been a day for honoring those who've given their lives for the country," said John Sommer, the executive director of the American Legion's Washington office. "It's just totally unbelievable that someone would want to politicize the day the way Senator Edwards has."

Edwards' holiday offensive is his latest surge against the war, and it's a political gamble.

This month he ran TV ads in Washington, D.C., and Iowa urging the Democratic-controlled Congress to defy President Bush's veto of a war-spending bill that set deadlines for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. He dismissed attempts to compromise as a "concession."

"He more and more seems to be running as this year's Howard Dean," said Dennis Goldford, a Drake University political scientist. Dean, a Democrat who ran for president in 2004, became the favorite of antiwar activists but failed to win his party's nomination.

There's little doubt that the war is unpopular. Polls show that two-thirds of Americans oppose it. A Des Moines Register poll this week found it the top concern among likely Democratic caucus-goers in a state that's key to Edwards' hopes of winning the nomination - and the first state where Democratic voters will begin selecting their candidate next January.

Even war supporters acknowledge the right to protest it. They just question Edwards' timing.

"There's 365 days in a year. I think it shows poor taste and poor judgment to choose a day that we set aside to honor the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice," said Bob Dionne, the commander of an American Legion post in Manchester, N.H. "There's 364 other days he could choose."

On a blog, Edwards called Memorial Day "exactly the right time" to protest the war. Campaign manager David Bonior calls it "an important time to raise the consciousness of the country."

"(Veterans) fought to guarantee our freedom so people could actually express their views and raise their voices," said Bonior, an Air Force veteran and former Michigan congressman. "That doesn't mean we can't talk about the war and the necessity of bringing our troops home."

Tim Carpenter, the director of the group Progressive Democrats, said his group was encouraged to see Edwards speak out. So is Belin, Edwards' supporter from Iowa. She puts little stock in criticism from groups such as the American Legion.

"They don't own the holiday," she said. "There are plenty of people on all sides of the issue who have connections to people serving over there (in Iraq)."

But even some liberals question Edwards' timing.

Joe Conason, a columnist for Salon.com, wrote that many veterans have joined the ranks of war critics. Still, many of them "believe that antiwar displays on (Memorial Day) are at best insensitive, reviving bad memories of the Vietnam era," he wrote.

"If people are taking a look at an alternative point of view," he said, "why would you do something that repels them?"

Some see Edwards' move as another way to distinguish himself from his top rivals, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

"Candidates all have a strong opinion against the war, and now they're trying to do something that establishes that they have credibility beyond what other candidates have," said Bill Carrick, a California-based Democratic strategist. "(Edwards) is obviously trying to assert that he has a stronger position against the war than they do."

That may prove essential in Iowa.

"The contest where he absolutely must do very well is Iowa, which is a close contest and where the Democratic Party is pretty left," Washington-based analyst Stuart Rothenberg said. "It's about Iowa, and the peace sentiment is strong out there."

It is with Belin.

"Right now," she said, "(Edwards) has the strongest position on the war."

Edwards led in Sunday's Des Moines Register poll, with 29 percent support to 23 percent for Obama and 21 percent for Clinton.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image