I made an excursion into the world of cable news-chat last night, after several blissful weeks of watching “Spider-Man” and “Iron Man” cartoons each night with the kids, only to be dismayed by how bad some of the conservative and Republican analysis of the John Edwards pick has been. Here’s a telling sign: I don’t think I ever heard a right-thinking commentator mention the words “black turnout,” and yet when I talk to Democrats that it often the first phrase they utter.
Before engaging in battle, Sun Tzu taught, “know your enemy.” Kerry and the Democrats may have blundered in picking Edwards, and Republicans certainly retain many good options for taking on the two Johns, but success requires that you first understand what the opponent is trying to do. The Edwards pick was not an act of desperation, or simply an attempt at a charisma transplant. It was, in part, a nod to elements of the Democratic Party that felt ignored (black constituencies) or nervous (candidates and activists facing competitive races in the South and Midwest). And it was an attempt to force the Republicans to spend time and money in a few more states.