The Campaign Spot

Begrudgingly Believing Bob Shrum’s Stories

I think my Edwards-critic street cred is pretty well-established, so it’s probably safe for me to say I started a bit skeptical of Bob Shrum’s tales about Edwards. Shrum, known all over the Internet as “0-for-8″ for his record as a campaign staffer in presidential races, has every reason in the world to suggest that the problem in those races were the flaws of the candidates, like Edwards, not the flaws of his ideas, strategies or campaign platforms.

So I was initially skeptical of the tale of Edwards saying he was ”not comfortable” around gays. Then again, it was 1998. In North Carolina. Gays-in-the-military had made a mess in the opening years of the Clinton administration. Maybe Edwards didn’t feel any particular need to reach out to that constituency.
The I-hugged-my-son’s-corpse-and-made-a-promise story, though… well, the thing is, it seems too specific and weird to be made up, at least completely.
The idea that Kerry wanted to go with Dick Gephardt as his running mate, and let himself be talked into picking Edwards? Let me put it this way: I could see Kerry picking Edwards and then, after losing the election, blaming Edwards and deluding himself that he had the right instincts and that others led him astray.
And the story of Edwards being talked into voting for the Iraq war by his staff against his interests – well, as a rival campaign pointed out to the New Republic, Edwards himself suggested there’s some truth to that interpretation of events.
Still, let’s recognize Shrum’s incentive to make Edwards look like a doofus: He chose not to work with him in 2004, and the worse Edwards looks, the more likely he is to be blamed for the Kerry loss, instead of Shrum.

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