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!

Like Now.

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.

No votes yet


One of the reasons that I have elected to write on ePluribus Media is that it respects honesty in postings, even if that honesty is felt to be mistaken. So I will trust the community to respond to my post in that tradition.

I want to look at a particular of what is being said in this commentary before making a more general comment.

"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."

To illustrate a point by reference to the cancer of a relative is a powerfully emotive argument. It seems to place it beyond a rational questioning, yet it must be done if we are at all interested in the truth.

I had a similar experience to that of James's step-father three or four years ago. I had osteonecrosis of the upper jaw as a result of intensive radio-therapy five years earlier. To assist the healing , my consultant wished to provide hyperbaric oxygen treatment of the type to which James refers. My insurance company refused to pay for the cost of the treatment.

I did not react adversely to the news but examined the basis of their refusal. The Internet allowed me to do this - it is an incredibly empowering facility now for patients. What it showed was that hyperbaric treatment was being over-prescribed during the 1980's, without any clear evidence of its efficacy. The cost to the insurance companies was enormous - and these costs find their way into our premiums. Exaggerated claims about the treatment brought it into serious disrepute. Put simply, there was no serious foundation of research evidence to show its use was of real benefit.

The position remains the same today. The refusal by the insurance company was rational if one accepts, as one must, that there is a finite limit that must be applied to treatment, whether by the private or the public sector.

My consultant, however, had undertaken a lot of work in studying the application of this treatment and had followed the research of a French medical team that showed that there were real benefits in using the oxygen chamber to assist the blood flow around the soft tissues of the jaw. In other words, the doubts about the treatment continue but there are one or two specific instances where its application can be shown to be beneficial. After a dialogue between him and the insurance company, they relented and the cost of the treatment was $32,000.

However much I may have wanted whatever remote chance existed for greater surety of healing, I do not ever recall that I felt that "corporate greed" was being exercised as a barrier, or "doors slammed in my face". The discussion was a right and proper one.

The same can be said of to Nataline's unfortunate death. We do not know the clinical circumstances, the prognosis for the efficacy of the treatment or the degree of dialogue that occurred. We are basing our outrage on an emotional response just as the GOP did in relation to the removal of life support for another person.

Of course, comparison of my case to that of James's step-father would be wrong - we do not know the clinical circumstances. Equally, it would be wrong to generalise from either in the way that the diarist does or, it has to be said, in the way that Edwards promotes his own agenda.

What is certain is that public examination of this issue is important and it is proper that it is given the full light of publicity. Over zealous guarding of their profitability, and co-incidentally the cost of our premiums, may well have occurred with the particular insurance company. We will need to know. Our reaction can then measure up to the ePluribus Media fact based assessment rather than simply emotional reaction.

To express it most crudely, I am able to write on here because I am being kept alive by three weekly blood transfusions. Cancer for me has become a minor issue compared to to a bone marrow disorder which could be limiting my life to weeks. In blood alone, I have cost over $5000 in the last two months, disregarding the surgery, scans, testing and time of medical staff at a variety of levels. The cost must be well over $100,000 in the last six months alone. I am scheduled for more blood on the 15th and further cancer surgery on the 18th. At some point, because of age and prognosis of success, some limitation will need to be placed on it. I do not welcome it but will have no resentment if this occurs. It is a reality that we need to face. There has to be some limit to an irritating Welshman who posts unpopular diaries! :)

If, therefore, I feel uncomfortable with the particular that is used to promote Edwards, where does my discomfort with him become generalised?

It certainly is not with his highlighting of the issues that need urgent attention in our societies. It is certainly not in his concern about the imbalances that exist that have become intensified and deeply affect the working class and the disadvantaged. Nor is it in his opposition to domestic and foreign policies that remain ineffectively challenged. No candidate has done more to bring these matters into the centre of the current debate and he deserves nothing but whole-hearted admiration for doing so.

It has more to do with his emotional pupulism, his presentation of himself as being able to be confrontational in delivering that which will become impossible as soon as he re-enters the corridors of Washington. To whip an audience into a fervour on false promises of delivery dependant upon a power that will not exist is a cruelty and, whilst I do not level this charge fully at Edwards, there is an element in how he addresses issues that lacks credibility.

There is a socio-political-economic system in existence in our countries that people want modified but for which they do not seek revolutionary change. Greater regulation, improved oversight, an improved balancing of public/private sector provision are all strong messages for which Edwards deserves credit. There exists in what he says, that does not suit the taste of many, a hyperbole that goes beyond that, however, and becomes the reason for being wary of a populist agenda. A political campaign that does not end in success but only in increasing frustration is the worst outcome that can occur.

The way that we express our outrage on our blogs is one of the most valuable aspects our Internet discourse. It gives powerful voice on issues where there has been none. If it is not be marginalised, however, it needs translation into practical change and that means dealing in the necessary compromise, inducements, incentives, as well as the legally enforced prohibitions, of the real political world.

It would be interesting to see Edwards in the White House. I do not suggest that I would not be among the many who would hope for and encourage his success. Yet, just as with us all individually, we have to accept that there are limitations that we cannot go beyond. Edwards woud be faced with these limitations. The question and concern is whether or not he has been sufficiently realistic, in his wish to empathise with his desperately anxious crowds, in making them aware of this fact.

I agree with you that there is considerable over prescription of medicines in the United States--for example the use of drugs to treat psychological conditions defined as serious such as "shyness" not to speak of anxiety, or the restlessness that aflicts children who are not challenged in the schools.

On the other hand your insurance coverage benefits by the fact that everyone in England (even a visitor like me 20 years ago) has access to universal health coverage. My husbands uncle had the resources to go to private doctors but all of his ailments such as cataract and high blood pressure were treated to his satisfaction by the general medical system. Does that perhaps add more flexibility to the private insurers? It is an interest question for you to answer for all of us who are supporting universal health coverage but are not wedded to a particular model.

On Edwards and partisanship, let's remember FDR's speeches about the "economic royalists" who opposed him. I think that is how Edwards may be trying to pattern himself.

I am sorry to hear you have such a dangerous health condition. I now have another very serious New Years Resolution. Stay as healthy as possible, friend? And keep on keeping on as long as possible for all of us your virtual friends, and for those your words enlighten.


Actually, I'm doing the same as your husband's uncle - getting mainly NHS treatment and only using my private health care when necessary.

There are a number of reasons for this - part of it is logistical. I would have to leave home and travel to get treatment in a private hospital because rural Wales is not well served by them.

There is a moral issue. On this second phase of illness, I did not have a workforce dependent upon my treatment. I was concerned that using private health care might cause me to jump a queue. How can anyone in their right mind want to jump a cancer queue?

My treatment would most likely be undertaken in a public hospital, even though paid for privately. Strangely, I cannot get the consultants very interested in charging me for their work. Most around here do not like the idea of private medicine and largely ignore it. This irritates me a little because a lot of insurance money could otherwise flow into the public sector. It is all a bit mixed up.

There is an idealogical reason for resisting a mixture of private/public medicine. It is seen as the thin edge of a wedge that could erode the completely free-at-the-point-of-delivery public health service. I am sympathetic to this but on the detailed and more personal level I quite like the idea of my insurance policy enriching the NHS :) (e.g. There is only one hyperbaric chamber in the whole of North Wales. The payment to the NHS by my insurance company for my treatment equalled half the cost of a new one!)

Really there is only one answer to the health care problem. That is a pure, stand-alone public health care system for all and one good enough to be wanted by all. No other solution truly works. You can take your pick from the variety of European models that achieve this - each has their good and bad points.

That being said, all European health care systems watch their drug prescriptions and treatments carefully and rule out those that are not fully proven to be efficacious or, if applied, still not do not suggest a certain good prognosis. It is a push-pull situation that causes a great deal of debate and some anguish, but it is inevitable.

The greatest problem that we have in the UK is that we are not getting value for the money that we plough into the NHS. That is the great problem of any public sector organization. The confounded profit motive does seem to encourage a greater efficiency. Having worked in both sectors, I do not believe that this needs be the case but for the moment it remains a fact.

I'm getting superb treatment on the NHS and am grateful for it. This should not be a "progressive cause" to see the same in the USA but the cause of all right thinking people. Keep up the good work, Carol, but all those involved in the fight should make sure the emotion that fuels the fire of the demand is accompanied by fact and realism if it is to be achieved.

As to my condition, I find myself very detached from it. Doctors sadly shake their heads and tell me to be positive. Utterly unnecessary. I have been a supporter of Welsh rugby all these years. I am a conditioned optimist :)