Politics & Policy

Kate’S Take: Edwards Vs. Kerry

During his campaign for the Democratic nomination, Senator John Edwards has been a trial lawyer arguing for his client’s cause as he did in private practice for 20 years. The stump speech that we’re told wows audiences is the senator’s summation on behalf of his present client–his candidacy. As I have previously noted, John Edwards is now passionately railing against the unconscionable divide between the rich and poor Americas. The reason he seems more advocate-for-hire than committed activist for the poor is that he kept his current burning desire to redress this gross inequality in check when he could have been launching his own version of a war on poverty.

Senator Edwards was elected in 1998. By my count, during his first four years in the Senate, Edwards introduced a single bill aimed at alleviating material poverty. Apparently unmoved by the plight of the urban poor, in 2000, and again in 2002, Edwards introduced a bill to promote the development of affordable rental housing in rural areas. That’s it. And, the emotional exhortations on behalf the poor that are his standard fare on the campaign trail must represent a wholly new John Edwards to his Senate colleagues. While pet causes are typically the stuff of Senate speeches, Senator Edwards appears to have kept his current obsession to himself.

Because successful trial lawyers don’t have to believe the arguments they make, on alternate days they can convincingly make the opposite case. Their job is to convince a given jury to agree with whatever case they’re making. Luckily for John Edwards, in his current trial he need not submit evidence to back up his candidacy’s case.

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