Political reporters think Americans are uneducated and easy to command. They think TV viewers will buy the Crayola-crayon notion that John Edwards is a Southerner, therefore he is a "moderate."
Do these people with the advanced degrees in international affairs and pancake makeup techniques really think they don't have to update their political notions beyond 1964? Any journalist who had five minutes on his hands to determine the ideology of Sen. Edwards would learn he has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of...50? 40? Nope. Try 12. Even the liberal Americans for Democratic Action has him rated at 81 percent liberal, voting with the left four out of every five votes.
But no reporter wanted to describe Edwards as a "liberal." When the news came out, it was all hosannas. ABC's Dan Harris touted his regional appeal: "With his Southern accent and son of a mill worker biography, he may very well appeal to rural voters who the Democrats badly need." CBS reporter Byron Pitts oozed: "with a style as syrupy as Carolina sweet tea, Edwards could also help in the South." NBC's Carl Quintanilla added "John Kerry both formalized Edwards' rock star status and answered Democrats' demands too loud to ignore." They all obsessed on style, and no one wanted to assess the substance of his voting record or even his presidential campaign statements from earlier this year.
That might seem a little strange to anyone who remembers all the way back to 2000, when the addition of Dick Cheney to the Republican ticket was greeted by the media with warnings. Beware, very ideological candidate approaching! ABC's Linda Douglass said he was one of the "most conservative" members of Congress. CBS's Bill Whitaker branded Cheney as a "rock-solid conservative who manages to appeal to party moderates." On NBC, Tom Brokaw called Cheney a "hard-core Republican with stellar conservative credentials."
Then the TV fact-twisters went into great detail on Cheney's voting record, or at least into great exaggeration. ABC's Sam Donaldson asked him why he wouldn't vote to give more money to poor, needy senior citizens. CBS claimed he voted against releasing South Africa's Nelson Mandela from prison in the 1980s, as if Congress could have voted him out of jail. NBC went even deeper into the past, saying Cheney voted against the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, that old feminist manifesto.
It's easy enough to find votes showing how the media's Edwards the "Southern moderate" sales pitch is total hooey. Sen. Edwards voted against his Senate partner Jesse Helms when he suggested schools should be denied federal funds if they kicked the Boy Scouts of America out of meeting at a school since they wouldn't allow gay scoutmasters. The gay lobby has a powerful hold on this Southerner. Sen. Edwards voted in favor of federal funds for needle-exchange programs. John couldn't just say no to drug addicts.
On abortion, try to find where Sen. Edwards feels there should be any limit to the abortion lobby's demands. He's rated 100 percent by the NARAL crowd. Partial-birth abortion? He's a solid vote for that. Punishing criminals for killing unborn children, without a woman's right to choose? He's against that. That's not murder, since it's not really a baby, apparently. (Wouldn't the litigator in Edwards prefer two victims?) He voted in favor of giving taxpayer money to schools so they could distribute "morning after" abortion pills to our kids. If it hadn't passed by a voice vote in the Senate, Edwards probably would have voted against protecting infants who are born alive in a (failed) abortion procedure. Can John Edwards be any more extreme than this?
Or take Iraq and national security. Where is the difference between Edwards and Kerry, where is the ticket "balanced"? Both Senators voted to authorize the war in 2002 and then flip-flopped to deny $87 billion in additional funds for the troops once they authorized sending them to fight. Edwards voted exactly like his liberal Massachusetts running mate. Maybe he's a fiscal conservative to balance out Kerry's tax-loving instincts? Think again. His National Taxpayer Union and Citizens Against Government Waste scores are dreadful, percentages in the teens. He voted against every Bush tax cut.
So wouldn't any journalist objectively looking at fact say Edwards is as "hard left" as Cheney was "hard right"? Yes. Instead, the use of the L-word to describe Edwards was always attributed as a desperately negative Republican attack line, not the truth. ABC's Kate Snow said Bush and Cheney were cordial to Edwards, and then "it went downhill from there," as the GOP "tore into" Edwards by accurately stating he's a liberal.
The Kerry-Edwards substance-free honeymoon on the networks shows they don't believe in balance or fairness. They'll do anything but wear donkey ears on camera to help the Democrats.
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