FINALLY! Edwards Faces Issue Based Critique
By: Mark W Adams

And not some trite jab at his hair or the usual confusion about how a guy can live the Horatio Alger Rags-to-Riches story and still give a damn about the poor.

Red Sonya, comes right out and calls John Edwards' policies "socialist."

She notes with interest that the campaign signed on two high-profile anti-WalMart activist, one another former Deaniac and Joe Trippi buddy, Paul Blank, as well as Wake Up WalMart's chief spokesperson, Chris Kofinis. Sonya then offers the insightful analysis that when a candidate for president speaks before 600 steelworkers, all union activists in Northeastern Ohio -- an area that still hasn't recovered from the collapse of the steel manufacturing industry in the late 70's and early 80's -- and suggests that combining environmentally responsible projects with organized labor to create millions of jobs: he must be some kinda commie.

Oh damn! My bad. She is indeed a lightweight political neo-con-poop.

If you can stop laughing long enough to read to the end of her "in-depth" foray into political theory, you'll see she not only couldn't resist the obligatory hair, um ... cut; but also takes a swipe at Elizabeth Edwards' wardrobe.

Honestly, how do people like this gain a place in our public discourse? More to the point -- who gave this woman a gig as a radio talk show host?

I lived the transformation of Youngstown, Ohio. I saw firsthand how it went from a boom town to a ghost town. The Mahoning River Valley was somewhere every kid could grow up and always knew that even if he or she was only mediocre at school, they could get a job where their dad, and grand-dad worked -- at the steel mills. Right about the time folks my age were graduating high school, the bottom fell out of the U.S. Steel industry.

I was lucky. I had studied hard. I could get out, go to college, then law school, and do something else. A good number of my friends and neighbors weren't so blessed. About half left the area because under Reaganomics there were no jobs trickling down to replace those outsourced to Japan and Europe and the cheaper labor markets of Mexico and the third world. We didn't have a word for it then, outsourcing. We had other words for the phenomenon that are hardly printable.

I never went back either, except to visit family -- those that stuck around and had nowhere else they could go. Those that were too vested in their declining property or too old to learn new skills.

So, when John Edwards, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich went to Cleveland on Thursday, and Hillary Clinton spoke on Friday in an address to 600 steel workers at their union conference, I had mixed emotions. It was fantastic that by their mere presence I knew we were not forgotten, that the sons and daughters of the mill workers of Northeastern Ohio were remembered by the folks who want to lead this nation. But I can remember a day when that type of meeting would have brought six thousand, not merely six hundred union faithful. (Or even the eight hundred reported by the union organizers.)

I have to note the interesting dynamics of the candidates' appearances at the conference. Joe Biden told the crowd what they are always told -- that if we invest in our infrastructure, build more bridges and roads, we'll create more jobs. Nothing wrong there, but hardly anything new. Somehow, however, I don't see the Senator from the State of MBNA whose expertise is in foreign policy being the savior of the manufacturing base of the rust belt.

Hillary's appearance was more notable for what she did not say. While promising to be a friend of the union folks (as if she'd say "screw you" to such an audience) she refused to stick around and answer questions as originally promised. In a press release, Dennis Kucinich (He's a real socialist Sonya, for future reference.) eviscerated Senator Clinton for her cowardice, that by her actions she did indeed say, "screw you."

"It borders on arrogance for a Democrat to deliver pro-union promises and platitudes in prepared remarks, but then refuse to engage in an honest and open conversation with workers whose lives have been profoundly impacted by disastrous trade policies -- especially NAFTA, which was
enacted during the Clinton Administration.

"Does Senator Clinton support NAFTA? Will she attempt to 'fix it,' as former Senator Edwards proposed yesterday? Or will she have the courage to repeal it, as only Congressman Kucinich has proposed? Members of the steelworkers union and other industrialized unions did not get any answers
because they weren't permitted to ask the questions.

"Candidates have an obligation to go beyond orchestrated and scripted performances, answer tough questions, and address serious issues. If they calculate that it is preferable to side-step that obligation when they are trying to win votes, voters will be left wondering where those candidates really stand and what they will really do if elected. If anything, Senator Clinton has an even higher obligation to address this issue because NAFTA was enacted during the Clinton Administration. Someone needs to ask where the Senator stands. And the Senator has a responsibility to answer."


Of course, Dennis was on his home turf, and probably felt a bit emboldened since he was surrounded by more friendly faces than he is used to. However, from a purely analytical viewpoint, the most interesting presentation was by Senator John Edwards, a veteran of union organizing throughout the country.

I know that there is an inherent partisanship bias in what I say about his proposals -- but it's his proposals themselves, their specifics, bold yet practical solutions, and innovative approaches are what sold me on John Edwards in the first place. So don't just go by me, but do take note that the Youngstown Vindicator was impressed.

Edwards wants to fix NAFTA as Kucinich said, as well as make continued increases in the minimum wage, and create an alliance of blue-collar workers with environmental initiatives that could create a new manufacturing base of new technologies designed to combat environmental change and our dependance on fossil fuels. This is all designed to replace the industrial infrastructure that's been eroding unabated for the last quarter century. Sorry Joe, we've gotta make more than just roads and bridges.

Finally, Edwards, the mill-worker's kid who went to law school, must have impressed enough of the folks right there in Kucinich's back yard to peel off an impressive list of endorsements.

Parma, Ohio, is the heart of Kucinich country, yet their mayor is now officially on the Edwards bandwagon along with the their State Rep, Timothy J. DeGeeter, the Parma Clerk of Courts and the neighboring Parma Hts. Mayor.

I've dealt with Cuyahoga County prosecutor Bill Mason, a straight arrow and one of the good guys, who's now also an Edwards supporter. State Reps. from across Northeastern Ohio are standing behind Edwards too, from Elyria, Amherst, Westlake, Austintown, and Dan Dodd representing the Hocking river valley folks in the Southeast. Not to mention one of Ohio's most progressively minded intellectuals, Bob Hagan from Youngstown itself -- where this mess of an economy started.