Lest I be accused of celebrating too excitedly the Edwards pick, this February Doug Ireland op-ed (dredged up by Sam in the midst of his well-deserved vacation) provides a good reminder of what in Edwards' record should give pause to those still in the other America: “The Edwardses were solidly middle class” when Johnny was growing up, according to a four-part profile of the North Carolina senator in his home state’s most prestigious daily, the Raleigh News and Observer. It’s true that for a few years as a young man Edwards’ father worked on the floor of a Roger Milliken textile mill. But Edwards p?re (a lifelong Republican, like his reactionary boss) quickly climbed upward, becoming a monitor of worker productivity as a “time-study” man — which any labor organizer in the South will tell you is a polite term for a stoolie who spies on the proletarian mill hands to get them to speed up production for the same low wages. Daddy Edwards’ grassing got him promoted to supervisor, then to plant manager — and he finally resigned to start his own business as a consultant to the textile industry. As a Boston Globe profile of Edwards put it last year, the senator never “notes that his father was part of management"... Edwards, who comes from a state where banking is big business, played a critical role in brokering legislation to allow banks to sell mutual funds and insurance, and to engage in other speculative ventures. This law, worth hundreds of billions to the banks, blasted a gigantic hole in the Glass-Steagal banking law’s firewall of protections designed to prevent the kinds of bank collapses that marked the Great Depression of the ’30s — meaning that it put the money of Joe Six-Pack depositors at risk. ...If there was real depth to Edwards’ rhetorical populism, one would expect to find it in “Real Solutions for America.”...On a number of important matters — example: federal corporate welfare — the “solutions” Edwards’ speeches describe as “bold” involve . . . appointing a commission. Sometimes, the pamphlet contradicts Edwards’ reality. Example: “Some tax lawyers make millions through flimsy letters telling clients how to shelter their income. Edwards will stop these abuses,” it claims. But in 1995, Edwards — already a multimillionaire — set up a professional corporation to shelter at least $10 million in legal earnings from having to pay Medicare taxes on them, saving himself some $290,000, according to the News and Observer, which quoted a top specialist from the American Institute of CPAs as labeling this trick “gaming the system.”...As a senator, Edwards voted to deploy the “Star Wars” national missile defense as soon as possible — but you won’t find this controversial position in Johnny’s feel-good pamphlet. As I said yesterday, Edwards claim never to forget the lessons of his humble roots is a start. It's not, contrary to his claim, something working Americans can take to bank. What all of us can take to the bank, however, is the certitude that four years with Edwards working under Kerry would be a tremendous improvement over four years with Cheney working under Bush. And it's no coincidence that many of those most loudly questioning the weight of that difference are, like those four men, living quite comfortably in the Bush economy. Unfortunately, Kerry and Edwards are yet to do enough to convince those living in the other America and silently wondering whether to cast a vote that theirs is worthwhile, and Kerry's failure to do so for fear of scaring off NASCAR Dads and Soccer Moms makes the work of mobilizing underrepresented voters that much more difficult.


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