Jewish World Review June 7, 2007 / 21 Sivan 5767
Edwards wins with 1 word: Leadership
By Michael Goodwin
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Hillary was a hawk on terror, Obama was tough, but John Edwards won the second Democratic presidential debate this week. He did it the old-fashioned way - by seizing on a single message and banging it home repeatedly.
His theme was leadership, and he used every topic to make it the litmus test for the next president. He aggressively took on the front-runners - Clinton and Barack Obama - on Iraq, saying, "There is a difference between leadership and legislating."
But it didn't stop there. About an hour into the lively, informative New Hampshire debate, Edwards summed up his message: "Who is most likely to end the war in Iraq? Who is most likely to lead in health care? Who is most likely to lead on immigration?"
It was a clever approach, one designed to give his sinking campaign a lift. That he succeeded surprised me, because I view Edwards as the least likely top candidate to be a good president. The slick trial lawyer is willing to pander, to make promises he knows are impossible to fulfill and to take a position purely for political gain.
I see him as a future lobbyist, but for one important night, he did what he needed to.
Yet he may not make much headway in the polls because Clinton and Obama made strong points of their own without making mistakes. Clinton was impressive at the outset by rejecting Edwards' notion that the war on terror is just a "bumper sticker slogan."
"I have seen firsthand the terrible damage that can be inflicted on our country by a small band of terrorists who are intent upon foisting their way of life and using suicide bombers and suicidal people to carry out their agenda, and I believe we are safer than we were," Clinton said.
She also was forceful in saying that we could not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. That's not something most Dems will say because it sounds warlike and means they agree with President Bush.
I'm still bothered by her repeated claim that she was misled on her war vote in 2002 and her position on Iraq remains a tangle of contradictory and shifting comments. But she is, among primary voters, taking a risk by at least sounding tough on national security, and she deserves credit for that.
For his part, Obama is growing comfortable with the rough and tumble. He and Edwards went at each other over Iraq, and it was good to see him fight back instead of trying to rise above it with a speech about unity. For the moment that the debate was a brawl, Obama was willing to mix it up.
That's a necessary character in a president, and he looks like he has it.
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