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Edwards: It’s Not the Haircut

photo by Annie Liebowitz

It’s the message Republicans are scared of, so the $400 haircut was a way in
to scuttle the man. It also provided the opportunity to burnish the image before
the man could reveal the steel of his character. But Edwards handed it to his
adversaries so he’s going to have to get himself out of this. It’s the gift
that may yet sink his candidacy, especially since the American voter is akin
to a pre-pubescent teen more interested in dirt than policy plans for the people.
We are a scandal nation, so we get the president we deserve, though the 2006
election offered a glimmer of hope. It’s that tiny thread Edwards must now grab.

Annie
Liebowitz
captured the man, his family and his life for Men’s Vogue.
The
story reveals
John Edwards’s passion and mission to the people. That combination
is why Republicans are intent to take him down. That and the fact that Edwards
is the very embodiment of what Republicans purport to support. The thing is,
Republicans only talk about the American dream for the middle class and the
poor; of pulling yourself up and making good. Because if you actually do it
you’re a target, especially if you’re a Democrat. If Edwards was a Republican he’d be their nominee. Because he’s not he’s a threat.


… ..Edwards has a decidedly New South profile, a peculiar blend of country
flavor and newly minted wealth. He prefers white wine with his NCAA March
Madness, imported suits with his GMC truck.

Fairly or not, to critics and many locals, Edwards’s new estate—a 28,200-square-foot,
$6 million affair a few miles outside of Chapel Hill—has become a potent
symbol of hypocrisy when placed against his political message of personal
sacrifice, environmental conservation, and economic division. Top aides were
furious that the Edwardses decided to build it just as they were launching
the campaign. Elizabeth has said she has no regrets; she worked closely with
an architect to design the house, down to the wide-plank pine floors and soapstone
fireplace. (It also has a 1,762-square-foot room called “John’s Lounge,”
two performance stages, a pool, and basketball and squash courts.)

Edwards’s close friend and former law partner, David Kirby, who was his neighbor
in an upscale section of Raleigh in the nineties, says the family built the
house out of a desire for privacy, a reprieve from the fishbowl of political
life. “Every Southern kid’s dream is to have the country estate,”
he says. “You have your 40, 50 acres and you’ve got your own little private
world there.” Saunders adds, “It’s done swank. He built it as his
final house. And he can afford it. If he wants to build him a fine house,
what’s that got to do with anything?” “I’ve lived the American dream,”
Edwards explains when I ask him about it. “No one ever gave me anything,
and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do.” Then he adds: “And
I’m particularly happy for Elizabeth’s sake now, that she has a nice place
to live.” …

Getting
Real

Can John Edwards convince America that he’s got what it takes to crush
the red state/blue state divide?
– By Joe Hagan

There’s been a lot of talk about the legitimacy of the Edwards expensive snip
story: Scott
Lemieux
, Digby,
Marc
Ambinder
, Glenn
Greenwald
, even me (more than once). Just about everyone has weighed in,
especially the wingnuts and Fox, with the latest Romney makeup revelation offering
a prime moment to examine the double standard.

But Romney beats the drums of war and is not a modern man, something Republicans
understand and to which they can relate. Religious, cunning, “conservative”
when it’s convenient, rich.

John Edwards is different. He talks of poverty, peace and something beyond perpetual war,
which completely flummoxes Republicans. The truth is that the reason Republicans
want Edwards gone is that they can’t attack his message, because they don’t
understand it, are even scared of it, dread facing it. The haircut is easier
to ridicule, as they hope to capitalize on the juvenile mind set of the average
American voter who is too busy working two jobs and is willing to hate anyone
so rich, good looking and who has succeeded where they have failed. Edwards is a wealthy
man who came from nothing who is now making his life’s work the poor; people
to whom Republicans can’t relate, but to whom they continually sell their policy propaganda
to, but which will never set them free. Nothing is scarier than the thought of the poor
rising up and realizing that the talk of the American dream through Republican
policies (and the cheerleading of talk radio) will never reach that far down
to them. If the truth be told to the masses, Republicans would never win another
election and wingnut radio hypocrisy would be finished forever. That’s why Edwards
must not only be defeated, but destroyed; like Kerry the veteran turned against
war had to not only be stopped, but the symbol he represented obliterated and neutralized. Antithetical notions to Republican thinking are not allowed
to thrive in the American dialogue, and the messenger will not survie to sell his story.

Republicans know how to fight on war turf. However, they haven’t a clue how
to battle someone who’s talking about the poor and that terrorism isn’t some
talking point “bumper sticker,” but something we can tackle through
our own actions and policies. Looking inwards isn’t a GOP strong suit. They point outward and
blame others. Edwards doesn’t blame anyone, but instead searches for solutions,
even if it means picking up a hammer and fixing the problem himself.

Edwards is asking us all to search our souls and unearth results.

Republicans only talk about souls, while being far more content with identifying enemies and making sure we’re sufficiently afraid.

Ironically, John Edwards has lived the life Republicans tout they believe can be for everyone. The life Rush and Sean and all the wingnut blowhards on radio say is the
Republican dream, the American ideal. A boy who grew up poor and pulled himself
up by his own initiative to become wealthy, happy and successful; but also faced
adversity and came out the other end stronger and unbowed, even in the face
of crushing loss and personal tragedy he continues to live through each day.
Unfortunately, he is also a Democrat. So they hate him for who he was, has become and wants
to be, because he’s lived the Republican dream, but disavows their beliefs,
because they inherently leave the poor behind. Something John Edwards has experienced
first hand. Edwards is the embodiment of Republican self reliance. That he turned
into a Democrat is his burden. It’s why Republicans can’t have him win.

So on the wingnuts drone about the $400 haircut, about the Edwards “mansion”
and about his wealth, which if he were a Republican they would praise, raise
up as example, with chants of his name heard everywhere. However, Republicans can’t have anyone
rise up from being poor to succeed who doesn’t follow their path, but instead
is a champion of the poor. It threatens their very existence.

Edwards is a self-made man who made good and because he’s a Democrat he must
not only be ridiculed, but he also must be destroyed. He’s too good to be true
and a $400 haircut has now made him vulnerable, because the press has also decided to
help take him down. It’s what America does to its heroes; the men and women
who rise up against the odds to make good and go far. As much as we love to see heroes rise, we love to see the good
guy fall.

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.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong