It's easy to see why Hillary Rodham Clinton is considered the favorite in the Democratic race for the 2008 presidential nomination, if money and recognition are the criteria.
But if the benchmarks are strong positions and straight talk, it's hard to see why it's not John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina who ran for the vice presidency for the Democrats in 2004.
Senator Clinton's gift, or curse, of equivocating are familiar enough to have been bitingly lampooned on television's Saturday Night Live last week. The show had Senator Clinton explaining her record on Iraq:
"If we knew then what we know now, that you could vote against the war and still become president, I would never have pretended to support it."
Sen. Clinton has yet to take any leadership towards ending the war, and has even said that additional military action in the Middle East, against Iran, "should not be taken off the table."
Meanwhile, Edwards has repudiated his vote for the war, and has called on Sen. Clinton to do the same. He has called "meaningless" current nonbinding resolutions against the war, which are supported by Senator Clinton and the other leading Democratic contender, Senator Barack Obama. Edwards is calling for a complete withdrawal from Iraq in 12 to 18 months.
On another major issue, Edwards appeared on "Meet the Press" last week and described a plan to provide health insurance for the almost 50 million Americans who do not have it. Edwards says he would raise taxes on people making more than $200,000 a year to help pay for the plan.
The New York Times, covering the first steps of Edwards' campaign, comparing it to his run for the vice presidency under John Kerry, says "his campaign voice is different, at times angry and more impatient." Edwards says, "I just find it easier to be more candid now."
In an era where political caution has been so costly, even deadly, Edwards might run long and well on candor.
for Ithaca Blog