WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was skeptical about voting for the Iraq war resolution and was pushed into it by advisers looking out for his political future, according to an upcoming book by one of his former consultants.
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum writes in his memoir to be published in June that he regrets advising Edwards to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. He said if Edwards had followed his instincts instead of the advice of political professionals, he would have been a stronger presidential candidate in 2004.
Shrum writes that Edwards, then a North Carolina senator, called his foreign policy and political advisers together in his Washington living room in the fall of 2002 to get their advice. Edwards was "skeptical, even exercised" about the idea of voting yes and his wife Elizabeth was forcefully against it, according to Shrum.
But Shrum said the consensus among the advisers was that Edwards, just four years in office, did not have the credibility to vote against the resolution and had to support it to be taken seriously on national security. Shrum said Edwards' facial expressions showed he did not like where he was being pushed to go. [emphasis in Attytood's post, but probably not in original report]
As Digby correctly notes, even without the benefit of hindsight this advice is so patently myopic that it's amazing anyone ever paid this wanker to consult a campaign for the local school board:
The mistake was not only in the rank immorality of voting for this ridiculous war (on the basis of 10 points in the polls, no less.) It was also a huge tactical political error. If the war went well, it was going to be nearly impossible to beat Bush in 2004 and everyone knew it. If the war was going badly, then a vote for it was going to tie these candidates up in knots and make them look weak and irresolute, which is exactly what happened to Kerry. There was no margin in Democratic presidential candidates voting for the war.
Will Bunch points back to a Washington Post article that covers a little of Shrum's history. Folks, this guy has consulted 8 presidential campaigns, including two against George W. Bush, the depth of whose personality flaws is matched only by his intellectual ones ("peeance and freeance," anyone?), and he has never won. Never. His tutelage helped make war hero John Kerry look like less of a man than his draft-dodging opponent. Thanks in part to his advice, the prescient climate change crusader Al Gore looked like a serial liar who had no more to say about the environment than his oilman opponent who's entire public face was a fraud conceived in 1999.
And now we see he convinced John Edwards to sell out on his better judgment to make the biggest mistake of his political career. What would have happened if all of those people looking for a candidate smart enough to see the war for what it was had not only Howard Dean, but also John Edwards? It's hard to see Kerry having survived the primary had Edwards been able to say that he was in the Senate, too, and he had the good sense to vote nay (and that's assuming Edwards wouldn't have poached a lot of Dean's followers in the process!).
This is what when there are no hiring consequences to advising Democrats and losing. This shit doesn't happen in the GOP because if you can't win, they will cut your ass loose without thinking twice. Is it any surprise that they've been more successful campaigners despite being on the wrong side of virtually every major issue lately?
Kos, who devoted part of his book to the consultant problem, distilled his commentary on this revelation in one word: Dumbass.
One slightly more positive note, however: this article sure does make you love Elizabeth Edwards even more, doesn't it?