Man Without Qualities

Friday, February 07, 2003

Lifting The Second Veil

In yet another gesture reflecting his lack of political seasoning which nevertheless has its virtues, dazzling, refreshing, fresh-faced political greenhorn freshman senator John Edwards, who is running for President, has made a curious South Carolina choice to deliver some of his his trademark charming and boyishly attractive badinage: William Aiken House in Charleston, the home of the largest Civil War slaveholder in South Carolina, who was also a big supporter of the Confederacy. Indeed, Aiken turned his house over to Confederate Brigadier General Beauregard for use as a temporary headquarters during the Union shelling of lower Charleston.

Of course, the New York Times reports that, Democratic candidates for president are struggling these days to work their way through a bit of a headache: How to campaign in South Carolina, a state with a pivotal primary, without running afoul of an economic boycott intended to force the removal of a Confederate flag from the State House grounds -
a boycott which extends even to the hiring of hotel rooms. Senator Edwards has pledged to "honor" the boycott. But as the Times puts it:

Mr. Edwards is heading for South Carolina on Saturday, on a campaign excursion that is stirring much curiosity, and a little bit of sniggering, from Democrats in opposing camps anxious to see just how this first-term senator from neighboring North Carolina can pull it off.

"It is incredibly difficult," said Erik Smith, an aide to Representative Richard A. Gephardt, a Missouri Democrat who said he would not abide by the boycott. "No one has given a plausible explanation of how you can run an effective campaign. The boycott is more than sleeping in hotels. The boycott is everything from eating in restaurants to paying car services."

Well, that dazzling Senator Edwards seems to have come up with an imaginative solution. Instead of the facilities of some chain hotel, he's going to use the home of the largest Civil War slaveholder in South Carolina! Mr. Aiken was, after all, a Democrat who was arrested by federal authorities for refusing to attend the raising of the US flag at Fort Sumter after its capture by Union troops. So Senator Edwards' choice of the Aiken House during a boycott associated with South Carolina's use of a Confederate flag is particularly poetic.

Yes, indeed. This is the boy genius the Democrats are counting on to retake the White House.

FOOTNOTE: I do not wish to be read as suggesting that there is anything wrong with anyone holding a meeting at the Aiken House. The focus here is entirely on Senator Edwards' practical political abilities and judgment given the current operative facts in the Democratic Party, South Carolina and the nation as a whole. In short: Senator Edwards comes up short. Very short.

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