Does Sen. Edwards Consider Himself to be Similar to George Bush?
I want to return briefly to the "planted question" issue that Sen. Clinton's campaign was rightly criticized about. A number of people have written about this and offered varying perspectives that I would recommend you read - e.g., Chris Bowers at Open Left (whom I respect and who has the most negative take on it), Roger Simon at Politico, Brian Montopoli (CBS) and Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic (my own view on this episode is in a previous post).
Sen. Clinton has responded to the incident as follows:
"Well, it was news to me and neither I nor my campaign approve of that and it will certainly not be tolerated," Clinton told reporters after the incident became public.
It is good to know that Senator Clinton admits this was a mistake and that it won't happen again. Given that she has never blocked people from events nor has she prevented people from asking difficult and embarrassing questions at her events, I am willing to accept that and move forward.
Now, Sen. Edwards had offered a misleading and unduly harsh criticism of Sen. Clinton when the news initially broke - and I wrote about that here. He also took the unusual and extreme step of declining, initially, to commit to endorse Sen. Clinton if she ended up being the Democratic nominee for President. His position was ridiculous enough that Sen. Chris Dodd responded appropriately as follows:
I am surprised at just how angry John has become. This is not the same John Edwards I once knew. Of course, we should all come together to support the nominee. I wonder which of the Republicans John prefers to Hillary?
I increasingly worry about Sen. Edwards and sometimes wonder whether his passion and rhetoric is overwhelming his good judgement. I think he would certainly make a better President than any Republican running for President, but his initial position on the endorsement issue made me question whether I should decline to support him in any way during the primaries. However, given his subsequent, albeit weak, statement that he "expects" to endorse the eventual Democratic nominee, I will continue to support him as I would support any other nominee in the Democratic primary.
I do have a question for him though. His original criticism of Senator Clinton was:
That's what George does: George Bush goes to events that are staged where people are screened
This criticism was regrettably wrong at multiple levels. First of all, virtually every campaign event of every candidate is staged today. The staging may not involve "question planting", but campaign events are staged by the campaign to present the candidate in favorable ways. This is not news. People were certainly not screened in the Clinton campaign events to prevent tough questions - and Sen. Clinton routinely gets and answers difficult questions from attendees - so comparing Sen. Clinton to George Bush on that front was of course a false comparison. More importantly, since the incident, Senator Clinton has admitted that the question-planting was a mistake and that she does not approve this practice.
So, what I'd like to know is this. Will Sen. Edwards retract his claim that Sen. Clinton is like George Bush?
If yes, well and good - I will forget this episode and then pose a similar question to the Clinton campaign, namely, will they then retract their criticism of Sen. Edwards being just like George Bush? (If it's not coming through clearly, let me say that I am very uncomfortable with the Democratic contenders comparing each other to George Bush).
If no, then I have a simple follow-up question for Sen. Edwards. Should we assume, Sen. Edwards, that you are then no different than George Bush because you voted to support George Bush's war in Iraq? After all, you did concede it was a mistake in 2005, years later, but if you don't believe people should get credit for admitting mistakes, then I assume we should still consider you a supporter of George Bush and his policies.