Why Edwards will make a great President!
promoted by Carol. I recommend not missing the end which gives a very personal perspective of what the Edwards campaign represents.
When you ask people who are the Great American Presidents, you are likely to get a lot of different answers -- JFK, FDR, Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, among others.
But why do People name them? What did they do that was extraordinary?
All Presidents face challenges -- but why do some of them "rise to the occasion, and excel beyond all expectations?"
What is it that makes them Leaders?
Arianna Huffington posed these questions back in 1999, she wanted to know the Qualities of a Great President:
FDR and Eleanor: Profiles in Leadership -- and Transformation
by Arianna Huffington
Being thrust back into the dark days of 1933, and seeing how Roosevelt, by sheer force of will and personality -- and the rhetorical gift that gave us his "nothing to fear but fear itself" inaugural speech and his fireside chats -- revived America, reminded me of a series of conversations I had back in 1999 for a column I wrote about what makes for a great president.
Across the board -- and across the political spectrum -- came the same reply: someone who can stir our spirit and, in the words of historian David McCullough, "cause those who follow them to do more than they thought they were capable of."
It was a sentiment echoed by Doris Kearns Goodwin: "The job is not simply to reflect current opinion but to challenge it, move it forward and shape it. The ability to just take a stand and know that you can move the country to that stand is a lost art we need to recapture."
What makes for a great president?
"someone who can stir our spirit and cause those who follow them to do more than they thought they were capable of."
"The ability to just take a stand and know that you can move the country"
That kind of sounds like what John Edwards has been doing all year. Indeed he shows no sign of letting up either, "until he has managed to move the country too" to where we ought to be.
Washington Post -- The Trail
Edwards Fights to the Finish
Dan Balz's Take
Nobody in the race here understands the rhythms of campaigns any better than Edwards and nobody is more ruthlessly focused on closing the deal than the former trial lawyer and senator. This time he's trying to make it all the way, knowing that he cannot afford to lose here on Thursday night.
But it is his message that is most remarkable. No thought here of finishing on a sunny and positive note, as he did four years ago. His "America Rising" theme is not a variation of "Morning in America."
It is a call to arms that is raw and angry, populist and pugnacious. It is a message that is as exhausting and is it confrontational. It is a message makes Al Gore's "people versus the powerful" seem tame and timid in comparison.
"I don't ever want to hear, son, about you starting a fight," he says his father told him. "But you listen to me and listen to me clearly. I don't want to ever hear that you walked away from one. Because if you're not willing to stand up for yourself and if you're not willing to fight, no one will stand up for you."
The enemy he sees is corporate America and corporate greed. His message seeks not to unite America but to finish what he describes as "an epic struggle" against forces that are, literally, killing America -- destroying jobs, holding down wages, putting ordinary Americans out of work or denying them medical care.
"You need somebody in the arena who will never back down," he says.
The rich have an "iron-fisted grip" on democracy and won't let go through negotiations. "Anybody who suggests that we don't have an epic fight on our hands is living in Never-Never Land," he says.
He condemns wealthy corporate CEOs and "paid mercenaries" in Iraq with equal fervor. They are destroying the future of America.
"When will this stop?" he cried out at a rally in Knoxville, Iowa, on Saturday.
"With you!" a voice responds from the audience.
"With you and with me," he replied.
John Edwards displayed that "fighting spirit" again today in Iowa. Again, he is challenging People to join in this "epic fight" again the forces of greed, that would continue to dismantle America piece by piece, dream by dream, family by family ...
Edwards raised the Examples of other Great Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt (the "trust buster"), Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman to give the Iowa Audience some idea of the kind of Fighter he would be too. From the rousing response from the crowd, it seems American DO like the sound of someone who is willing to Stand Up for them!
VIDEO: John Edwards on CSPAN from Iowa-12.28.07
Here are some excerpts from that very stirring speech, covered only by CSpan:
I want to be absolutely clear, the corporate greed in this country that is stealing your children's future -- it is stealing the future of Democrat's children, Independent's children, Republican's children. I'm telling you, this is a message and a cause we can unite America around, next fall in the election, and we can unite America in bringing about this change that we need.
Because everyone knows it is true!
But we have an epic flight in front of us. Think about the fights that have taken place in the past.
Teddy Roosevelt, Great American President, this is a man with guts and the backbone, and he went out and 'busted the trust', he broke up the monopolies, and he did it on behalf of the American people.
But he didn't do it without a fight. He didn't do it by being nice to these people. He took them on!
Franklin Roosevelt, a great American president, transformational by any possible measure. Franklin Roosevelt what many people have forgotten about him, is he was vilified by big corporate America, vilified, they hated him.
To paraphrase him, "He welcomed their hatred." The reason, because to him, it meant he was standing up. He didn't make a deal with these people. He stood up to them, he fought with them, and he literally changed this country!
And then right after Franklin Roosevelt, along came Harry Truman. And Harry Truman, took up a truth teller. You know the famous Harry Truman story, some of you have probably heard it.
You know somebody said to him sometime, you know Harry you're giving them hell. He said "Nope, just telling the truth in what feels like a hell!"
Well what work we're going to do, we're going to tell the Truth. And we're going to Fight. And we're going to Fight with everything we've got.
And I want to say something to those who say, they want to sit at table with drug companies and insurance companies and negotiate.
Some may have seen this story. But just a week or two ago, there was a young woman, 16, 17 years old, who needed a liver transplant. And she had healthcare. She had health insurance with one of the biggest insurance companies in America. But they said they aren't going to pay for her liver transplant. Because I wasn't certain that the results were going to change anything. So they wouldn't pay for it. Luckily for her, her nurses stood up, her doctors stood up, her health care providers stood up. And then finally and most importantly, the American people stood up because they literally started marching and picketing outside the offices of this enormous insurance company.
So finally in the end, the insurance company capitulated and said yes we will cover her liver transplant operation. Then a few hours later she died, because they didn't have time to do.
Anybody says to me, that they want me to sit at the table with those people, and negotiate -- never! I will never do it!
We have to stand up to these people! If we have to do with them, what they've been doing to you! It's absolutely crucial to this country!
This is the fight. This is the flight we're engaged in ...
Many here recall that struggle of Nataline Sarkisyan against the Insurance Giant -- there were many passionate Diaries written about it, on the DailyKos.
Some may be tempted to call this a political stunt by Edwards, to capitalize on that young person's struggle. But I would humbly beg to differ.
Fights like those of Nataline go on everyday in this Country they just don't often get headlines. But John Edwards is well aware of these struggles of ordinary Americans, indeed he has represented many of them in courtrooms, to get justice, for over 20 years!
That shows heart, that shows commitment, that shows empathy!
(An attorney with Edwards' talents, could have easily become a Corporate Lawyer, and made much more, for those who doubt his passion for regular folks)
I would like to close this diary with a personal story, though it is difficult for me to talk about.
Our family went through a denial of insurance claim similar to Nataline's, so I know this is NOT an isolated case.
Back in the mid 80's, I was a young man from a working class family, trying to make my way in the world. I would call home once in a while to check up on Mom and my new Step-Dad, to see how things were going.
My Step-Dad was a great guy, hard working Union man, a Vet from the Korean war. He treated Mom and us kids very well, as well as he could, on Union wages, in a depressed economy where lay-offs were the norm.
Well one day we got the news that No Family wants to hear -- he had Cancer! That was shocking enough, but it was Treatable. So he went through a whole series of debilitating tests and treatments to Fight it. He was going to Fight it, and NOT let the Cancer win.
Every time there was some progress however, it was soon to be snatched away with more bad news. You see the Cancer was spreading, starting first in his jaw, moving to his throat, and eventually to his liver, and finally to his bones. Brave man that he was, Jim fought it every step of the way. He even paid for some to the treatments himself when his Insurance failed to cover the bills. (This meant him going to work to earn extra money, even when terribly sick from the chemo.)
Well there finally came the day, when the Insurance Company slammed the door closed! Even though his Doctor wanted to try some "new experimental treatment" in an Oxygen Chamber that showed promise, in cases like his. The Insurance Company said "Nada! ... too experimental -- if you want it, you pay for it."
Our family could not afford the 100K+ price tag (and Jim was too much of a gentle man to saddle us with the debt). He resigned himself to the fact, that it was over. After over 2 years of struggle, Jim gave up his fight to live.
I scrambled my life, and moved back home across country, in a matter of couple of weeks. Jim was still hanging on, in a hospice bed, where it's all about pain management. I still remember him, struggling to talk through in his morphine-induced haze, "James, take care of your mother". I told him I would.
He died a few days later.
Stories like these are all too common in America, I'm afraid. And the hard working People of America, are often too proud, or too frighten to Stand up and fight back.
"We all have our lots in life. Best to just grin and bear it." That is the ethic of the working man.
Our Family could have used a Fighter like Edwards in "our corner", back then! I imagine we all could use a Fighter like Edwards at one time or another!
That is just another, in a long list of reasons, WHY I am supporting John Edwards.
I believe he will Fight for people like me, and people like my Step Dad, who loved this country and played by the rules -- and who was a good man, who had to give up "his fight", much too soon.