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Losing Ugly

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¿ As senator, he voted for the Patriot Act, calling it "a good bill . . . and I am pleased to support it." He now attacks it.

¿ As senator, he voted to give China normalized trade relations. Need I say? He now campaigns against liberalized trade with China as a sellout of the middle class to the great multinational agents of greed, etc.

Breathtaking. People can change their minds about something. But everything? The man served one term in the Senate. He left not a single substantial piece of legislation to his name, only an endless string of votes on trade, education, civil liberties, energy, bankruptcy and, of course, war that now he not only renounces but inveighs against.

Today he plays the avenging angel, engaged in an "epic struggle" against the great economic malefactors that "have literally," he assures us, "taken over the government." He is angry, embodying the familiar zeal of the convert, ready to immolate anyone who benightedly holds to any revelation other than the zealot's very latest.

Nothing new about a convert. Nothing new about a zealous convert. What is different about Edwards is his endlessly repeated claim that the raging populist of today is what he has always been. That this has been the "cause of my life," the very core of his being, ingrained in him on his father's knee or at the mill or wherever, depending on the anecdote he's telling. You must understand: This is not politics for him. "This fight is deeply personal to me. I've been engaged in it my whole life."

Except for his years as senator, the only public office he's ever held. The audacity of the all-my-life trope is staggering. By his own endlessly self-confessed record, his current pose is a coat of paint newly acquired. His claim that it is an expression of his inner soul is a farce.

A cynical farce that is particularly galling to authentic and principled left-liberals. "The one [presidential candidate] that is the most problematic is Edwards," Sen. Russ Feingold told the Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wis., "who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it. Voted for the Iraq war. . . . He uses my voting record exactly as his platform, even though he had the opposite voting record."

It profits a man nothing to sell his soul for the whole world. But for 4 percent of the Nevada caucuses?

letters@charleskrauthammer.com


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