Tuesday, June 10, 2003

That Depends on How You Define Courage
TNR's Primary reports on what it sees as the political courage of John Edwards for standing up to an angry constituent. The questioner was demanding an investigation into the administration over the Iraq War and the intelligence that was used to support it. Edwards responded by saying, "The premise of your question is that you have these views and you want me to stand up for them. ... But that's not my job. You disagree with me on Iraq. I believe it was the right thing to do. I will listen to you and respect what you say, but ultimately, my responsibility is to do what I believe is right."
Now it certainly takes some spine to respond to any constituent in such a manner, but let's look at the bigger picture. Support for the Iraq War was strong across the country, but even more so in the South. If Edwards had agreed with his interlocutor then he would have run the risk of alienating the majority of North Carolinians who supported the war. However, I will give Edwards some credit, as he had to know that his response would be widely covered and read by the more liberal than average Democratic primary voters, a group that has been energized by the angry Dr. Dean and his anti-war stance. The political price for Edwards' comment will probably be paid more in New Hampshire and Iowa, than in North Carolina.


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