. . . Tuesday July 6, 2004

It’s the Optimism, Stupid

In Pittsburgh (home to neither man) and without a certain someone by his side, John Kerry announced that John Edwards would be his running mate.

“I have chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America. A man who has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle class Americans and for those struggling to reach the middle class. A man who has shown guts and determination and political skill in his own race for the presidency of the United States.”

Edwards has looked like the most likely choice for several weeks now, so the decision probably didn’t surprise too many people. It certainly didn’t surprise RNC operatives who immediately released a lengthy dossier (which makes the Clinton memoirs seem concise) asking the question: Who is John Edwards? They answer their own question by explaining that: “John Kerry was against John Edwards before he was for him. But now he’s his running mate. Who is John Edwards? A disingenuous, unaccomplished liberal and friend to personal injury trial lawyers.”

This is perfect.

You really want to know who John Edwards is? He is the man who will not take the bait being thrown out there by the RNC. He is the man who will keep his campaign optimistic. He certainly lacks a certain level of experience (none of his former employers are doing business in Iraq) and gravitas (he has yet to drop an F-bomb on the Senate floor), but what he brings is great campaigning and unbridled positivism.

And that’s what John Kerry needs. By selecting Edwards, John Kerry has set his campaign for the White House on a clear and now pretty much unalterable path. The message will be that we are all in this together and we need to bring some sense of unity back. People are tired of the partisan bickering that has spiraled out of control. John Edwards is the right person to help (even to guide) Kerry hone a message of unity and optimism.

So how can the Bush team help?

First, they can release a press release that rips John Edwards even before he’s formally accepted his new role. They’ve already done that. Second, they can begin to air an attack ad that suggests that McCain was Kerry’s real choice and that Edwards was merely a second or third option. Yup, they’ve already done that. And third, they can hammer home the fact that they are disgusted by Edwards’ history of standing up for the little guy in personal injury cases at a time when patients have lost their right to sue HMOs and the Bush Medicare plan has actually resulted in an increase in drug prices. They’ve already taken care of that one too.

They’re not only missing the point of what the Edwards selection means (and precisely what made a Kerry/McCain ticket so interesting), they are playing right into Democratic hands. They are going hardcore negative and Edwards is going to remain steadfastly, breath of fresh air positive.

And mark my words: Positive wins this race.

Concentration is important!