January 4, 2008

Elizabeth Edwards appeared on Hardball Friday to give Chris Matthews a hard time about his continual ignoring of her husband's campaign for the Democratic nod.

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What a frustrating interviewer Tweety is. You know walking into Hardball that you're going to be interrupted continually, but he's not even bothering to listen to anything the person says. When Elizabeth remarks fairly mildly that this is not the first time that the media has ignored John Edwards' solid second place win for some distraction over a candidate who didn't do as well, Matthews' response is to ask if John's strategy is to knock out Hillary Clinton (the third place candidate) in conjunction with Barack Obama.

Then he asks Elizabeth to differentiate between John and Barack Obama, and when she tries to play up John's populist appeal, Tweety's response is to denigrate trial lawyers as an undesirable interest group to be supporting Edwards' campaign, even going so far as to blame trial lawyers for the lack of bartenders in Pennsylvania. Huh? Is he forgetting that Elizabeth Edwards was a trial lawyer herself? Watch how Elizabeth constantly tries to get Matthews to focus on John Edwards' campaign and Tweety's little mind flits elsewhere.

Partial transcript below the fold

CM: But Sen. Edwards, your husband, takes tons of money from trial lawyers. They’re an interest group.

EE: Every person…teachers are an interest group. Press people are an interest group. Every time, you can’t just identify their occupation and say they’re an interest group. You do that all the time. I’m a little tired of that, Chris.

CM: But what’s…what’s…how do you defend taking all this money from the trial lawyers?

EE: What?

CM: They’re not the most popular group in the country

EE: You know, and I suppose there are people who take money from people who own…um…

CM: Teachers are defensible, trial lawyers are a question mark.

EE: Well, actually trial lawyers have spent their lives defending precisely the same kinds of people John’s talking about: working people, who have to go up against corporations or insurance companies and find themselves on the short end of the stick too often. Because they don’t have the voice, the champion that they need, and John’s proud of the fact that he has the support of those kinds of people. I’m tired of this stuff from you. It’s the same song and dance from you all the time.

CM: And what is my song and dance?

EE: That you treat trial lawyers as if they’re a different breed of American than anybody else. They’re…

CM: They’re just driving the doctors out of the states like Pennsylvania, that’s all. These guys can’t afford to practice any more because the trial lawyers are killing them with malpractice.

EE: No. The reason that the insurers pulled out of the state of Pennsylvania was because the anti-trust laws do not cover insurance companies. We can argue about this for a long time…

CM: I just think the doctors are the good guys, okay?

EE: The doctors are the good guys. But it’s not doctors, it’s the insurance companies that have been the problem.

CM: You can’t even find a bartender in states like Pennsylvania because of the trial lawyers. Elizabeth, thank you, the champion of the trial lawyers. You think that’s a good cause to run on for President?

EE: I think the people who trial lawyers represent—the working people of this country—that’s who John’s talking about. The people he grew up with. When he went to work, he went to work not because he had…he was enamored of the trial lawyer. He was enamored of what they did, of the work they did, of the people that they represented. That’s what he’s doing still.

CM: Well, he gave a good speech last night.

EE: He did give a good speech…

CM: It was a good speech. And he’s a great candidate. And I think…

EE: I didn’t hear that…would you like to…

CM: He’s a great candidate. He’s one of the three in the mix right now. It’s a tough one. I mean, he’s not the first woman president, first African American president—this is exciting history. John Edwards is just another white Protestant from the South.

EE: I have to say something. I’m a child of the ‘60s; you are too. We fought very hard for civil rights and women’s rights. What we fought for is so that it wouldn’t make a difference that we were a woman, or we were an African American. It shouldn’t make a difference. We’re not allowed now to say, ‘I’m sorry, it makes a difference to me. ‘ I get, I get…That’s what we fought for, for to make it no difference whatsoever.

CM: You think we’re there? We’re color blind?

EE: Not yet.

CM: I know, that’s why it’s exciting, this race.

EE: It is exciting.

CM: You’ve got a great face, Elizabeth. Sorry, I don’t want to patronize you. You’re great.

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