...otherwise, why would they spend so much time trying so hard to dismiss him? When asked by host George Stephanopoulos which of the presidential contenders "handled" the assassination of Benazir Bhutto the best (a strange question in and of itself) George Will did not focus on Huckabee's lack of knowledge or Richardson's demand that Musharraf step down, but rather on the fact that John Edwards made a phone call.
GS: (The Bhutto assassination) was a major event, at least for a day, on the campaign trail. It seemed to freeze the campaigns. Who handled it well; who didn’t?
GW: Opinions differ. I would love to have been a fly on the wall of President Musharraf’s office when the aide came in. The country’s in flames, the army’s in doubt and the guy comes in and says, “We have holding on the line a former one term senator from North Carolina, calling from Iowa.”
Could Will be more dismissive and patronizing if he tried? Turns out, yes. Because as the discussion moved to the upcoming Iowa primary and whose message was resonating most, again, Edwards' message of populism was brought up. David Brooks immediately pulls a Noonan and discounts how "tough" Edwards can be, and George Will then subverts the whole definition of populism to pull as many conservative scare tactics as possible. How many strawman fallacies can you count?
GW: Here you have the fundamental contradiction of populism. He doesn’t like Washington and Washington power. He also vows to increase the power of Washington. Populism has to do that. He’s going to increase the regulatory state and with it, he’s going to increase the stakes of politics and therefore the importance of lobbyists.
Why does George & Co. feel the need to dismiss Edwards? Could it be that in head-to-head match ups, Edwards is the candidate who fares the best?