Elizabeth Edwards finally reached the breaking point with husband John, the former senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee. Various news outlets report the Edwardses are separated. Under North Carolina law they can’t get divorced until a year later. “She said, ‘I’ve had it. I can’t do this. I want my life back,’” her sister, Nancy Anania, told People magazine.
Most Americans probably would say she stuck it out longer than anyone could have expected. In 2008 John Edwards admitted an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter and earlier this month acknowledged he fathered Hunter’s child, born that same year. As someone else noted, switch a few thousand votes in Ohio in 2004, and John Edwards would’ve been a heartbeat from the presidency. Scary.
The White House may argue Republican Scott Brown’s victory last week in blue-state Massachusetts wasn’t about President Barack Obama’s policies, but other Democrats know better. The tide is against them, and their list of voluntary non-combatants for this year’s mid-term elections is growing.
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of the vice president, has nixed a run at his dad’s old Senate seat (now held by appointee Ted Kaufman). Biden said he had unfulfilled responsibilities to Delaware’s voters. And he does. But polls showing Republican Mike Castle, current congressman and former governor, looking strong in November had something to do with it, too. Kaufman, also a Democrat, also isn’t running.
In Arkansas, Democratic U.S. Rep. Marion Berry is retiring rather than face voters. Berry cited health concerns, but it looks like his political health was in more immediate jeopardy: Berry’s 1st District went for John McCain by 20 points in 2008, and Obama’s policies have only made the climb steeper for Democrats, who’ve held the seat since Reconstruction. In an interview with The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Berry said Obama reassured him and other moderate Democrats they would be safe this year because of his personal popularity — that the difference between 2010 and 1994, when Democrats lost 54 House seats, was “you’ve got me.” Unconvinced, Berry is quitting, his announcement following last week’s by fellow Arkansas Democrat Vic Snyder (2nd District).
Well, OK. The previous blog item on Scott Brown is non-operable now that Republicans have picked new Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to deliver the GOP response to next week’s State of the Union address. No biggie. McDonnell is the other good choice for the task after his runaway victory last fall in the Old Dominion — another state President Barack Obama won in 2008. McDonnell swamped his Democratic opponent with a solid conservative message that focused on jobs and the economy, which is the formula Republicans everywhere should copy this year. Like Brown in Massachusetts, McDonnell gobbled up independent voters (66 percent) on his way to a 17-point victory. He should do quite well as the GOP’s prime-time face/voice next week.
If Republicans are smart they’ll pick Scott Brown, the new senator from Massachusetts, to give the GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Jan. 27. Brown’s upset victory this week in a special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat probably is the most electrifying political event since Obama’s triumph in 2008. Brown ran a brilliant campaign, tapping into broad unrest in the country over Obama’s health care proposals, the administration’s perceived arrogance in pushing them, spending and other issues. Independents carried him to victory, and the GOP needs to capitalize on his connection with non-ideological voters. Some Republicans will grouse that he’s not conservative enough in some area or another, but he’s lightning in a bottle, with Sarah Palin-like charisma. Last year Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal responded to Obama’s message to Congress and came up small. In Scott Brown, Republicans have a chance to steal the evening. To borrow one of Brown’s campaign slogans, the GOP needs to “gas up the truck” and unleash their newest senator on the country.
If Democrat Martha Coakley is defeated Tuesday by Republican Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly occupied by Ted Kennedy, there’ll be a lot of analysis on the whys and wherefores. There might not be a more compelling reason than Coakley revealing late in the campaign that she doesn’t know beans (as in Boston) about the beloved Red Sox.
Coakley riled Red Sox Nation by insisting in a radio interview that former Sox star pitcher Curt Schilling is a Yankees fan. Yes, those Yankees. She tried to correct herself, and later her staff said it was a deadpan joke that didn’t work. Too late, damage done. Schilling had a good laugh and posted something on his blog. And Sawks fans were left wondering how anyone in the commonwealth could think Curt Schilling — he of the bloody sock from Boston’s 2006 World Series championship team — was a fan of those hated pinstripers from the Bronx.
In the interests of fair and comment, if Pat Robertson gets an eye roll for blaming the Haiti earthquake on Let’s Make a Deal with the devil, then actor/activist Danny Glover gets one for blaming it on global warming. In an interview with an Australian news outlet Glover said the Haitian quake is linked to the lack of progress at the recent climate change conference in Denmark. “When we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I’m sayin’?” Uh, no. Earthquakes are older than any conceivable human influence on the earth’s temperature. Tectonic plates and all that. Glover and Robertson prove the political spectrum has its fringe at both ends.
It’s been awhile since Pat Robertson last erupted, so it’s not surprising his latest outburst was a doozy — linking the devastating earthquake in Haiti to some kind of deal he says the Haitian people made with the devil in the 1790s to shed the yoke of French colonizers. “They were under the heel of the French,” Robertson said Wednesday, “and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’ ” Besides being of dubious scholarship, Robertson’s remark was off the charts offensive given the death toll and destruction in Haiti. Of course, Robertson is notorious for interpreting contemporary events as the works of God or Satan or both. He blamed the 9/11 attacks on the country’s ban on public school prayer and said Hurricane Katrina was retribution for abortion. For conservatives the hard thing is a number of Americans still think Robertson speaks for a large segment of their movement. They can only hope for another kind of miracle — that next time some calamity occurs Pat Robertson will just keep quiet.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe loves getting a rise out of environmental groups and the attention that goes with it — like Rolling Stone magazine’s new article naming him one of the planet’s worst enemies. The Tulsa Republican has gotten under a lot of people’s skin contesting the “settled science” of global warming and environmental regulatory efforts that carry a big economic price tag, all from his perch on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. Interestingly, while Inhofe and chairman Barbara Boxer of California are polar opposites on just about every environmental concern, they’re actually warm friends otherwise. Go figure.
As for Rolling Stone, Inhofe’s main beef with the article is he thinks he was ranked too low. “My first response was I should have been No. 1, not No. 7,” he told The Tulsa World. “I am serious about that. I have spent now literally years on this thing, and it has been a long, involved thing.” And he shows no sign of easing his foot off the gas pedal. Sorry.
New Jersey won’t be joining the short list of states allowing undocumented students to attend college at in-state tuition rates. The effect, supporters said, is that children will be punished for the actions of their illegal immigrant parents and likely won’t attend college at all. The measure’s failure is rightfully disappointing although the in-state tuition denial has become a politically popular choice in many states. While higher education is not a right, it’s an opportunity that ought to be as widely available as possible for those who want it. Banning students who were young and had no say when their family immigrated slams shut the door of opportunity for many of those students who simply cannot afford the much higher price tag of out-of-state tuition. What good comes from that?
Next week there’s a big special election in Massachusetts to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy last August. Actually, the seat’s not vacant. The Democratic machine in the Bay State put party retread Paul Kirk in there to keep it warm, presumably for the state’s Democratic attorney general, Martha Coakley, who faces Republican Scott Brown and Independent Joseph Kennedy (not that Joe Kennedy!) on Jan. 19 . The three debated Monday night, and judging by the account in the Boston Globe, it was pretty lively.
Easily the best comeback of the night came from Brown, who’s running in a state where Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats 3-1 and who’s trying to dispel any entitlement Democrats feel because of such a registration edge. Asked by moderator David Gergen whether he felt comfortable taking Kennedy’s seat and becoming the vote that would stop health care, Kennedy’s signature issue, Brown pounced. “With all due respect, it’s not the Kennedys’ seat, it’s not the Democrats’ seat,” Brown said. “It’s the people’s seat.” That, as they say, is bearding the lion in his own den.