My Couch, Seattle — On this eve of another Democratic presidential debate I am thinking about how difficult it is to know what candidates really think. It all seems like so much spin. Not only are words parsed and packaged, even clothes are strategically selected. Frankly, it’s boring to listen to them.
Maybe that’s why I’m suddenly so charmed by Elizabeth Edwards. In recent weeks she’s come out in favor of gay marriage and gone head to head with Ann Coulter. Last week, she had words to say about the Democratic frontrunner and fellow female power lawyer, Hillary Clinton. All this, without a hoot of concern about what the polls would say or how it will play in Peoria. How refreshing.
Recently she’s spoken out in favor of gay marriage, a position I wholeheartedly agree with. In a recent Q&A with Salon.com, Mrs. Edwards had this to say:
I remember hearing [former GOP Sen. Rick] Santorum ranting about how homosexual marriage threatens heterosexual marriage. I could be wrong, but I think heterosexual marriage is threatened more by heterosexuals. I don’t know why gay marriage challenges my marriage in any way.
Right. Too bad she isn’t running for president. Her handsome husband prefers civil unions which she attributes to his Southern Baptist upbringing. This doesn’t fly with me. He was raised a bigot so we should understand that he can’t quite get over it? I don’t think so. But otherwise on this issue, she’s dead on.
I was raised a Methodist in military churches. Poverty was talked about; I don’t remember homosexuality ever being mentioned. And I don’t think that Christians who aren’t engaged in a political campaign ever talk about it. They talk about poverty and other issues talked about in the Bible. But in churches, in political season, there’s plenty of ginning up this issue.
Onto awful Ann Coulter, a person truly not worth mentioning because the more she gets mentioned the more money she makes which is clearly all she wants so we should all just turn our backs and pretend she isn’t there. But she is and boy is she nasty. About John Edwards alone she has publicly called him a “faggot” and has accused him of using his teenage son’s death to political advantage.
In this video, Mrs. Edwards confronts Coulter on Chris Matthews’ show “Hardball.”
Here’s Mrs. Edwards’ best moment. Thanks to Thinkprogress.org for the transcript.
E: You had a column several years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean’s death and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car saying, “Ask me about my dead son.” This is not legitimate political dialogue.
C: This is now three years ago.
E: It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can’t have a debate about the issues.
C: Yeah, why isn’t John Edwards making this call?
M: Well, do you want to respond? We’ll end the conversation.
E: I haven’t talked to John about this call. I’m making the call as a mother. I’m the mother of that boy who died. My children participate — these young people behind you are the age of my children. You’re asking them to participate in a dialogue that is based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues, and I don’t think that’s serving them or this country very well.
Afterwards, Mrs. Edwards had this to say about the confrontation:
Later on, I talked to somebody, not an advisor — I really don’t have anybody advising me — and not someone in the campaign. She’d been in a previous campaign, and she said, “Oh, I wouldn’t have done that. I think that you put yourself at risk, subject to criticism unnecessarily.” I understand the advice — if you were advising somebody you might say that — but that exact attitude is what protects somebody like Ann Coulter. Nobody wants to jump in the mud puddle with her.
And you know, in some ways I’d like to continue what I started, just hammer home the unacceptability of Ann Coulter and what she’s doing to the dialogue. I’d like to follow her around and harass her. Maybe Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh too. But then I become what I’m trying to fight — I think it’s counterproductive.
This is good stuff. I like this lady.
Finally, on the topic of Hillary, Mrs. Edwards told Salon she thought Clinton wasn’t enough of an advocate for women.
Look, I’m sympathetic, because when I worked as a lawyer, I was the only woman in these rooms, too, and you want to reassure them you’re as good as a man. And sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women’s issues. I’m sympathetic — she wants to be commander in chief. But she’s just not as vocal a women’s advocate as I want to see.
She thinks Clinton is not firm enough on healthcare or abortion rights, although on the latter I find it hard to worry that Hillary won’t protect a woman’s right to choose.
Earlier this year, Mrs. Edwards learned that the cancer she had been treated for in 2004 has returned and spread. Her prognosis is uncertain. In addition, she has lost a child. Maybe with all of that comes the will to be brutally honest. Why not? The woman has been through the worst. She can weather the rest.