The eloquence of John Edwards

I felt a real chill as I read these lines from a speech Edwards gave last year, and remembered what it was like to have a president who could talk, who could use rhetoric to touch something in his people’s souls and move them to think and to feel. Isn’t it time to banish the vacuous platitudes and dreary slogans that so epitomize the age of bush? Don’t we deserve leaders who can engage us in a meaningful dialogue? Isn’t it time?

This man can talk.

Look at the choices they make: They have driven up the share of the tax burden for most working people, and driven down the burden on the richest few. They got rid of even the smallest tax on even the largest inheritances on earth.

This past month, in a $350 billion bonanza of tax cuts on wealth, they couldn’t find $3.5 billion to give the child tax credit to poor people who work. Listen to this: They refused to cut taxes for the children of 250,000 American soldiers who are risking their lives for us in Iraq, so they could cut dividend and capital gains taxes for millionaires who were selling stocks short until the war was over.


It is wrong to reward those who don’t have to work at the expense of those who do. If we want America to be a growing, thriving democracy, with the greatest work ethic and the strongest middle class on earth, we must choose a different path.

Our economy, our people, and our nation have been undermined by the crony capitalists who believe that success is all about working the angles, working the phones, and rigging the game, instead of hard work, innovation and frugality. And these manipulators find comfort in an Administration which, through its own example, seems to embrace that ethic. We will never turn this country around until we put our economy and our government back in line with our values.


It’s time for a new approach that trusts people to make the most of their own lives and gives them the chance to do so. It’s time to stop emboldening entrenched interests and start empowering regular people. Above all, it’s time to end the failed conservative experiment and return to the idea that made this country great: Instead of helping wealthy people protect their wealth, we should help working people build their wealth.

I can’t tell you how that last line moved me. A simple point expressed in simple language, and yet infinitely more eloquent than anything our puppet-in-chief could even dream of uttering.

Inspired by a post by Digby, one of the three or four truly must-read-every-day bloggers.

The Discussion: 9 Comments

They need to get Edwards on TV more often–he stands in excellent contrast to Dick Cheney. I still think that he would have made a better candidate than Kerry, if he had a strong and experienced vice president.

September 23, 2004 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

I agree, but he simply didn’t have the experience yet, at least not in the eyes of the electorate and the pundits. I’d love to have a president this smart and this eloquent.

September 23, 2004 @ 5:23 pm | Comment

That is quite an eloquent excerpt, and it makes Bush look like a pitiful mumbler.

The main problem with it is that it begins with a lie. The share of income taxes paid by the lower brackets was reduced by the Bush tax cuts, while the share paid by the uppers was increased.

I’d give up a little eloquence for more truth.

September 23, 2004 @ 7:46 pm | Comment

Sam, you’re a broken record. See the light, join the party of truth, justice and the American way. And I also think you’re using fuzzy math.

September 23, 2004 @ 7:51 pm | Comment

And I also think you’re using fuzzy math.

Tell you what, I’ll provide the graphic if you agree to post it on your page, and apologize deeply and sincerely to the American Public ™ for, ahem, “being misled”.

But you can still blame it on Rove.

September 23, 2004 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

Sorry, can’t accept — you Republicans are notorious for forging documents and charts. Anyway, this is a post about communication, about speaking, about the ability to reach and touch people with words as a great leader does, not about taxes. Whether you’re right on the tax point or not, it’s beside the point I was making — I want a president who can, among other things, utter a coherent sentence. And I can go through bush’s speeches, too, and point out plenty of whoppers — certainly way, way more and much, much worse than Edwards has ever made.

September 23, 2004 @ 9:25 pm | Comment

But, but…..I have an unimpeachable source! Well, the Congressional Budget Office via Detroit News, if they count.

I want a president who can, among other things, utter a coherent sentence.

We’re in agreement here. I want one too, but I ain’t gonna get one for a while. However, all this “fake but true” stuff must be getting to me. Now, even eloquent but dishonest isn’t good enough, and Edwards’ statement is a complete reversal of the actual case.

The graphic from the Detroit News shows what a relative benefit the lowest 60 percent got, and how the tax burden shifted onto the top 20%. If Kerry had done that, you’d be proud! (it’s on my site, but you can dig it up in the Detroit News archives)

You’d think with all the freelance fact-checkers out there, that accuracy and honesty would be more important.

September 24, 2004 @ 1:11 am | Comment

“you Republicans are notorious for forging documents

Really? Has Bill Burkett changed parties then?

September 24, 2004 @ 1:27 am | Comment

We can pick through speeches on both sides and find errors, exaggerations and, at least on the GOP side, lots of really blatant lies. I’m talking here about a president’s ability to communicate. I listen to Edwards and I hear very few falsehoods. If he was wrong about the tax issue, that’s bad and I’ll give him low marks for that. As a speaker, i will give him a 10+.

September 24, 2004 @ 8:14 am | Comment

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