The artificial dust-up between John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over the actual dust-up between Hillary and Barack is both amusing and annoying. Probably due to their laziness, the mainstream media conspired to allow Edwards to inject himself into the story, which -- originally -- had nothing to do with him.
The story began when Clinton called Obama "irresponsible" and "naive" for saying that, as president, he would be willing to meet with leaders of Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and Syria without preconditions.
Clinton said she wouldn't risk allowing these dictators to use her as a propaganda dupe. (One wonders where Hillary was when House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi served as propaganda dupe for Syrian President Bashar Assad -- not to mention grossly undermined the commander in chief.)
The media ooh'ed and ah'ed as if it was daring for Hillary even to take issue with Obama. Obama, who has made a big deal of holding himself out as a uniter, not a divider, lashed back with an impressively divisive rejoinder, tagging Hillary as "Bush-Cheney lite."
The great conciliator, Obama, held his ground in a conference call with reporters, insisting Clinton should explain how attaching conditions to meetings with foreign leaders would differ from Bush's approach to diplomacy.
Clinton shot back, through a spokesman, that an experienced president doesn't set out those kinds of hypotheticals, by which Hillary presumably meant to reinforce her point that she, not young Barack, was seasoned and presidential. (It will be interesting to see how Hillary explains away these comments if and when she chooses the charismatic, but young, inexperienced, irresponsible and nave Obama as her running mate.)
Excuse the aside, but have you ever noticed how often, when Hillary gets cornered with a tough question, she refuses to answer on the grounds that she doesn't do hypotheticals, which is monumentally absurd, since everything she would consider doing, as president, is hypothetical, by definition? Then again, "hypothetical" has five syllables, and her frequent use of the word definitely contributes to her image as the smartest woman in the world.
Returning to the story, we next see the forced entrance of Johnny Edwards on to the stage, reminiscent of the little boy in the classroom frantically waving his hand in the air and yelling, "me, "me," to get the teacher's attention.
Edwards scolded Hillary and Obama for arguing over meeting with foreign leaders, as if to say, "I am the great uniter; Barack is just a pretender." Edwards said, "If you're looking for what's wrong in Washington, why the system is broken (this is a) perfect example. "We've had two good people who spent their time attacking each other, instead of attacking the problems that this country has faced."
Edwards' statement says much more about Edwards than it does Clinton or Obama. In the first place, I'm tired of people like Edwards, who don't seem that enamored with our system of government or the free market economy that accompanies it, calling our system broken.
Nothing could better demonstrate the healthy state of our political system than rival candidates debating each other on substantive issues. The system was never designed to eliminate conflict, as evidenced by the Framers' intentionally dividing governmental power between federal and state governments and placing federal power in three competing branches.
Is John Edwards suggesting that the issue of whether to negotiate unconditionally with thug dictators is less important than superficial harmony among presidential candidates? Is it more important for the candidates to pretend to agree on everything than to air their differences about things that truly matter?
It's doubtful that Edwards believes that, but if he does, he's even less qualified for president than I thought. Edwards just wants to be part of the story and is using this bogus call to harmony as a cynical ploy to make himself look superior, conciliatory and above the fray. Interestingly, in the very process of holding himself out as Mahatma Ghandi, Edwards was sniping at the other two candidates. Just amazing.
Perhaps Edwards could share with the class how he would reconcile the two quite contradictory positions of Clinton and Obama on the foreign leader issue or whether he thinks it would just be better not to discuss it, lest we create an appearance of disharmony.
Better yet, perhaps all three, together or separately, harmoniously or acrimoniously, could tell us what might happen if we follow their more or less unified and harmonious recommendation that we withdraw our forces precipitously from Iraq. Is that an important enough issue to discuss? Please raise your hand, John.