We know and can tell practically at a glance whom the Republican Party wants to win the Democratic nomination for the White House in 2008. As of this writing, prominent neocons in the corporate media outlets are treating Hillary Clinton either fairly gently or as a shoo-in for the nomination, while the GOP attack wing &endash; which, in the public discourse, is roughly 90% of the GOP &endash; is doing everything it can to tear down John Edwards. Election 2008 looms ahead, and sectors of the GOP are already aggressively pursuing a strategy of trying to influence the other party's nominating process.
Democrats ignore these warning signs at their peril.
John Edwards is being attacked particularly stridently, right now, by rightwing web site NewsMax and rightwing outlet Media Research Center, where longtime conservative pundit L. Brent Bozell III of the Media Research Center has posted an article titled "John Edwards Maligns Faith." NewsMax is currently running the most recent of a spate of articles about two anticlerical bloggers who resigned from Edwards' campaign web site. A web site hosted by the rightwing Heritage Foundation, TownHall.com, currently has posted a polemic against the Edwards campaign by winger Doug Giles ("Stick a fork in John Edwards ... he's done"). Brent Bozell's piece is also on TownHall.com.
The conservative San Diego Union Tribune ran an article on Feb. 13, 2007, about two African-American state senators in South Carolina who purportedly switched their support from John Edwards to Hillary Clinton.
Similar attacks on Edwards were mounted by the noise machine in 2004, of course, muted only in comparison to the attacks on John Kerry. Edwards has been sniped at from 2001 on by the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Fox News and other media outlets owned by Australian mogul Rupert Murdoch, the Washington Times newspaper owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, Stanford University's Hoover Institution of War and Peace, the Weekly Standard magazine and assorted subsidized pundits on television. All of these commentators, publications and organizations supported the Iraq war and the Bush administration.
Meanwhile, here is rightwing commentator and Project for the New American Century signatory Charles Krauthammer, weighing in on Mrs. Clinton, on ABC TV's talk show Inside Washington Feb. 11:
"[Mark] SHIELDS: She [Clinton] has an enormous problem, an enormous opportunity. She has a very strong, intense constituency of support somewhere probably in the Democratic primaries somewhere around 35 percent who are committed to her, but at the same time, the general election is probably about 45 percent of voters who aren't even listening to her, who aren't open to her, which is a real problem in the general election, but that's determined, again, by who your opponent is and what the circumstances are.
MR. KRAUTHAMMER: I think that number can be reduced. I mean, I'm really not sure. It's a matter of how long -- how much of time has elapsed. There are people who didn't like her in the '90s at first as First Lady. I think she can reinvent herself in many ways as senator and as a candidate, and I'm not sure that high number of negatives -- you know, people who would not even look at her -- is going to remain that way. I'm not sure these people have looked at her again and when they do, I think it can be reduced."
On Fox News' Sunday Roundtable on Feb. 11, neocon writer Bill Kristol also weighed in favorably for Clinton:
"BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: He's [Barack Obama] going to run as a dovish candidate. Hillary Clinton will stay more hawkish than he, and I do think that's good for Hillary Clinton."
A Fox cable program, The Beltway Boys, aired on Feb. 10, also put pluses in the Clinton column:
"[Mort] KONDRACKE: ... right now there's the Iowa poll shows that Hillary Clinton leads the pack at 35% with John Edwards second at 18% and Barack Obama at 14% ... And Hillary was leading in New Hampshire, even before the trip that she had today, she was at 35% followed by Obama at 21%, Edwards at 16 and the rest of the field, as you see, in single digits."
It is a safe bet that none of the conservative commentators now treating Mrs. Clinton as the anointed candidate for the Democrats would vote for her.
The vicious attacks on John Edwards &endash; including attacks on his wife, Elizabeth, recovering from breast cancer, stem partly, in my judgment, from envy. Edwards represents a genuine rags-to-riches story; Edwards was the son of a coal miner's family who went to college, to law school and to a successful and lucrative practice of trial law before winning election to the Senate. Unlike the young George W. Bush, who was enabled to go to Yale as a "legacy" student &endash; descendant of Yale alumni, but without the grade average of other incoming freshmen &endash; Edwards earned all of his success. Most appointed commentators prominent in media do not have that kind of credential.
Worse -- from their point of view &endash; Edwards is a smart Southerner. They're leery of that kind of thing, and they don't like it much (an attitude found not exclusively among rightwingers).
But the main problem, or thrust, underlying the attacks against Edwards is their fear that if Edwards were to win the Democratic nomination, he could go on to win the general election. He has the money, the energy and the spine, and he can think on his feet. Meanwhile, their own polls tell them what common sense probably tells most observers: Hillary Clinton has virtually no chance of winning the general election unless her GOP opponent is Bernie Kerik.
Margie Burns is a Texas native who now writes from Washington, D.C. Email email@example.com. See her blog at www.margieburns.com.
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