- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2007


Campaign doublespeak can sometimes be so perfectly inverse to the truth that it should not pass without marvel from at least somebody. This week we got doublespeak twice, once from John Edwards, a Democrat, and from John McCain, a Republican. Both want to be president.

Mr. Edwards goes first because his is the more spectacularly false statement. The onetime Democratic senator from North Carolina with the $400 haircut announced to fanfare that he is “suspending his campaign” to conduct a poverty tour of rural America, with a stated aim of examining and calling attention to poverty in the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia and the Rust Belt.

Mr. Edwards is not actually “suspending” anything. It turns out that the “suspension” is to last a mere three days, in which period Mr. Edwards will cover eight states and 12 cities in this purported “Road to One America.” If it’s Tuesday, this must be Grinders Switch. That sounds to us just like the torrid pace of a presidential campaign. Mr. Edwards won’t have much time to listen to the voices of poverty, that much is for sure. Also sure are the echoes of Robert F. Kennedy’s celebrated tour of earlier poverty. But no, there’s nothing here about a “campaign.”

The only thing suspended is Mr. Edwards‘ willingness to answer questions about his personal wealth, given his fiery affection for populism. Surely it’s only coincidental that the tour sounds and smells like the leg of a campaign, that “tours” work wonders for some campaigns and that Mr. Edwards now seeks something to cure a sincerity deficit. Mr. Edwards will be lucky if this tour doesn’t make that deficit worse.

John McCain’s campaign suffered serious upheaval with the firing of top aides John Weaver and Terry Nelson and the departure of several lower-ranking staffers. With large debts and a big drop in the polls, the McCain campaign is well on the way to the graveyard.

“We’re doing fine,” Mr. McCain told Washington reporters this week. “If you don’t accept what I say, that’s fine, you’re free to accept whatever. I will repeat again, I’m very happy with the campaign.”

Since Mr. McCain graciously agrees that we’re free to accept “whatever,” here’s whatever: In recent weeks the campaign has fired dozens of staffers because it could not pay them after raising only $12.5 million in the first quarter of the year. The campaign has serious debt. This follow’s Mr. McCain’s precipitous drop in the polls, with the senator now trailing Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.

Call us crazy, Mr. McCain, but that’s an awful lot of “whatever” to dismiss so lightly.

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