Sunday, February 04, 2007

Our "neighbor", John EDWARDS

Today's Chapel Hill News carries an opinion column by one of the Chapel Hill (NC) Town Council members, Laurin EASTHOM. In it, she attempts to respond to an article in the (Raleigh) News & Observer about US Presidential candidate John EDWARDS. Ms EASTHOM contends that we should ignore EDWARDS' new, very large house here in Chapel Hill and the report by the N&O that EDWARDS does not say hello to a local business owner across the street from the new home - that has the highest assessed value of any home here in Orange County. She says that we should look to other wealthy US presidents and all the good works they have done for the poor, starting with Franklin ROOSEVELT.

I am afraid that she misses the point. It's a question of judgment.

Mr. EDWARDS keeps exercising very bad judgment as he demonstrated on Meet the Press today. While he says now that his vote for the Iraq "war" was wrong, he continues to say that he would have voted for the action even today if the "war" had been managed better. He simply does not have the knowledge of other countries and cultures, and especially the Middle East to be President, in my view. Further on that point, he said that he ignored evidence to the contrary on Weapons of Mass Destruction at the time. The judgment that he made at the time of that vote, the time that it took him to admit he made a mistake (more than two years) and the judgment he still applies in saying better management would have resulted in him still voting the way he did all say to me that he does not have what it takes to by my President. This all comes in the wake of a couple of things. One was the visit here last week of some people from Northern Europe who had never been to NC previously. They were struck by the absence of poverty. It also comes in the wake of a rough calculation that what the President is asking for Iraq and Afghanistan over the next two years amounts to about 10,000 USD for each citizen of those countries. If not 10,000, then it is a very healthy sum. And this comes along with a story in the same Chapel Hill News, adjacent to Ms. EASTHOM's piece that talks about the trials and tribulations of a small family restaurant (average meal $7, the N&O reports) only a few miles from Mr. EDWARDS' new home. The story reports that the restaurant "more times than not, operating at a loss". Mr. EDWARDS and Ms. EASTHOM both know that all politics are local. Walt's Grill is about as local as it gets for both of them. Finally, on top of all that is an invitation to a fund raiser for EDWARDS at the home of D.R. BRYAN, the developer of Southern Village. The invitation seems to be looking for contributions at the levels of $500 and $1,000. Where will that money go? Much of it will probably go for EDWARDS' staff and more fund-raising. Ms. EASTHOM says we should look not at EDWARDS' house, but at what he has "done in his work,is currently doing in his campaign, and will continue to do for all Americans as he proactively tackles the complexity of poverty in America". Ok, so let's see what John EDWARDS has done in Chapel Hill, with his neighbors and others to deal with the poverty here that our European visitors did not see. He may have done a lot, and many of us would like to know so we can appreciative. I hope he will share this with us. In the meantime, imagine what might happen if he took all the money donated for the lunch on 9 Feb and created a fund that turned the contributions into meal tickets redeemable at Walt's for those in our town and county for whom an occasional free lunch might make a huge difference. That would give the so-far missing strength to Ms. EASTHOM's words about "actions" that her words now lack. And, most important, it would wind up being one of the actions to put on Mr. EDWARDS' "very good judgment" list. He needs all he can find.