So John Edwards announces his run. Announces it in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. A city that remains punked by Mother Nature. Punked by President Bush. John Edwards spent part of the day before the announcement shoveling dirt in a backyard in a poor parish. A couple years ago President Bush's father worked diligently to raise money for the victims of a horrendous typhoon on the other side of the planet. While Bush the Elder wasn't necessarily one of the better presidents this country has had, he, like a few notable presidents before and since, realized that there is a power to help people that is incumbent, even when one is out of office. One would have hoped that his son would have recognized that fact while still in office. But New Orleans stands, proudly, yet still profoundly hobbled, and the government is otherwise occupied. On the day that John Edwards announces his candidacy, President Bush meets with a variety of generals, cabinet members, and others. To talk about sending in more troops to Iraq. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., there were undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of Americans who had a really lousy holiday season because they had lost their jobs, had enormous health care cost increases, or otherwise realized that they were financially scraping bottom. There isn't too much ho-ho-ho there.
If the Democrats—Edwards, Clinton, Obama, whomever—are going to have a chance at all in winning the White House in '08—do not underestimate candidates including McCain and Giuliani—then they're going to have to focus on places like backyards and school rooms, not somewhere else, but right in the U.S. While the present administration seems to think that its primary duty is to "protect us"—and yes, that is one thing that the president swears to when assuming the office, but one would assume that this doesn't mean being instrumental in creating a civil war in the Middle East, at the very least—the strength that the U.S. needs to reestablish is at home. There's little ability to protect oneself if one is physically, mentally, morally, or capably weak. The Democrats will be immediately decried as being in favor of "tax-and-spend." It will take money to fix our problems. Lots of money. That's just the fact of the matter. Tax cuts don't work. People like Warren Buffett and Ben Stein recognize it—hardly the sorts that one would imagine would be economically profligate. Many people who are going to hear the word "taxes" are going to be exceedingly opposed to having anything else removed from their pay packets—but let's not forget about how many years it is going to take to pay off the war in Iraq, and the bill will become due. What people probably aren't opposed to is to pay more so that children in the U.S. are educated as well as many people imagine that they are. So that health care is affordable to all people—even those who have lost their jobs. So that local infrastructures, which have been strained to the breaking point or beyond as Washington has abrogated its responsibilities in many instances, are rebuilt. So that streets are safe—and not crumbling. So that the torch that the Statue of Liberty holds—yes, a statue that was given to the U.S. by a country for which the present administration seems to think is irrelevant, a position it has taken vis-à-vis many countries—is a beacon of pride. Again.
So John Edwards announces his run. It's a long distance to November 2008. Here's hoping that the discourse that occurs between now and then is vigorous but ennobling. Something needs to change in this country, and change of a positive nature won't occur unless people start paying attention to it and realizing that one of the roles of this republic is to help make us all better and stronger.