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Jan 31, 2008

John Edwards: Parting View

(click for full size)

Yesterday, I had my say on the Edwards withdrawal.  Today, I want to share this photo by Alan Chin taken at the announcement in New Orleans on Tuesday.

Chin writes:

The scene was cold, and the ground wet and muddy. The Habitat For Humanity staff and volunteers were expecting Edwards to make a "major speech on poverty," as had been billed, but instead he came to throw in the towel. He did so with a certain dignity and eloquence: "It’s time for me to step aside so that history can — so that history can blaze its path."

Having covered him often and having been here so often, I was impressed, despite my usual cynicism, with the deliberate choice of both beginning and ending his bid for the Presidency amidst houses still destroyed from Hurricane Katrina.  By the contemporary standards of American political life, he had run a decent and spirited campaign.

I invite you to open the image and really look at it.  I find it a fitting portrait and parting view.

The weathered look not only contradicts the ascribed pretty boy aura, but seems to capture the edge of a weariness guaranteed to descend after unplugging from of the perpetual adrenaline rush of the campaign.  I have to also say, he looks like he really gives a damn, above and beyond any shallow debate regarding any need or reflex to continue to look like he does.

I think there are a several other elements here that are also powerful, which I leave to you to excavate.

(image: © Alan Chin.  Ninth Ward of New Orleans, La.  January 30, 2008.  Used by permission)


Edwards represents the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. The shabby way the aforementioned Democratic Party has treated him points up two obvious facts. Democrats don't care about winning elections any more, but only about poster boys (and girls) for "making history", i.e., who cares about nominating somebody who would be an amazing President as long as we can make history by nominating somebody ONLY because he is black or she is a woman, and two, Democrats can't read. The polling all along showed plainly that Edwards was mistreated and maligned uniformly by the press because their owners (the same rightwing nuts who own the Republican Party) don't want him in the White House, but he is the best candidate to win the general election. Polls showed him clobbering ANY Rethuglican. Obama has too much baggage and so does Hilary. Edwards has none. The things the press chose to talk about were simply indicative of the fact that the media in this country is now totally owned by the radical right and their super-rich cohorts who are out to subvert the Constitution and destroy the Bill of Rights. Those people want the Rethuglicans to keep control of the U.S. government, and they proved they would do anything to keep Edwards from getting the nomination. I say shame on the Democrats, shame on the Unions, and shame on the American people for allowing things to get to this point.

Hear, hear! You have said it so eloquently, webmaker02 and the Bag!

I feel so betrayed by this phony process which is only window dressing for the truth, which eludes people who can no longer question or reason on their own. Or, protest, or, get outraged.

The fact that this Administration which has broken the laws of this country can still be in office, unchallenged, legally, is testament to the end of what I understood was government by Laws and by the Constitution. And, few seem to care. As a friend of mine put it, until people aren't allowed to leave their homes and buy groceries, there won't be any significant reaction.

[email protected],

Sorry but your statement1:

"Obama has too much baggage and so does Hilary. Edwards has none."

is blatantly incorrect.

1) Edwards is a wealthy lawyer
2) He was US senator
3) He was on the Kerry ticket
4) He works for a hedgefund
5) He recently built himself a huge mansion in N.C.

You, as an Edwards supporter, might not see these as an issue however to assume that the general electorate will view it the same is delusional. I personally support many of Edwards' stances and hope that he will continue to be "out there" fighting for the causes he believes in, however I am not oblivious to the fact that everyone has negative baggage that can seriously work against them in an election. The question is instead, do you have enough positives to outweigh the negatives? I don't think he has enough to win it nationally.

George Washington was one of the wealthiest men in America for his time. That didn't seem to bother those who elected him president.

While the hedge fund issue is odd, Edwards is hardly alone in that:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R), for whom Wall Street is an especially key constituency, count hedge fund executives as donors and fundraisers for their presidential campaigns. Hedge fund executive Paul Singer is a key adviser and fundraiser for Giuliani, whose presidential campaign collected $159,000 from employees at Singer's firm, Elliott Associates. Clinton is getting fundraising help from Lisa Perry, whose husband, Richard, runs a $12 billion hedge fund, and the former first lady got $46,000 from employees of the private equity firm Farallon Capital Management.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, a Democratic presidential candidate from Connecticut, home to many hedge fund firms, received $175,400 from employees of the SAC Capital Advisors hedge fund during the first quarter -- his top source of support from a single company. As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Dodd has opposed additional regulation of hedge funds.

One of Sen. Barack Obama's biggest presidential fundraisers is a hedge fund manager -- Orin Kramer, general partner of Boston Provident Partners LP in New York and a longtime Democratic fundraiser. Along with Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Obama (D-Ill.) has proposed legislation to drastically reduce offshore tax havens that includes a provision to crack down on offshore hedge funds. The senators introduced the bill after an investigation last year documented how wealthy U.S. investors had used hedge funds to evade taxes.

- Source: Washington Post

Sorry JL:

You're wrong again. Nobody gives a damn about stupid things like the ones you mentioned. Plenty of people will be very concerned if Obama winds up being tied up too closely with Rezko, and the whole world knows that Hilary's greatest single ability is to unite the Republican Party. Edwards could have won, and I'm sure would have won. It's highly problematic whether either of the other two can.

Nothing becomes a pretty boy as much as the wind blowing in his ($400) hair.

Sorry, if I didn't laugh, I'd cry.

I can't get over that catch in his throat as he tries to take the long look of history. His battle was hard fought and the defeat sticks in his craw. And in ours.

The shadowed angst on his face contrasts with the clean white lines of the newly constructed house. Out of his defeat, he will bring something new, something to help those less fortunate, those among whom he spends his time. Is that dark silhouette on the left the shadow of MSM that has dogged him throughout, refusing to tell his story?

Yeah, yeah, I'm gettin' poetically maudlin. Deal with it.

Nice photo, Alan.

I'm totally with you, Cactus, yet, can one, especially a public personality, not have some integrity even with the inherent hypocrisy of wealth and fame? This is one of the subterranean questions I've tried to address in my coverage of the presidential candidates, an issue I first raised a year ago on this site when I spent a few days on Clinton and Obama at the beginning of their candidacies -- at that time, it was the absurdity of me as a photographer trying to get at whatever "truth" of scripted, controlled, set-up campaign events -- and I'm no closer to an answer now than I was then about that.

I hate "cults of the personality," or "great men of history" theories which is why I've tried to focus more and more on the people attending the events rather than the candidates themselves so much, (this photo that Michael ran is the only one of 9 that I sent which shows Edwards's face), and the reluctant, skeptical, perhaps-drinking-the-kool-aid/Stockholm effect conclusion that I've come to is that, yes, actually, if you run for public office, even or especially at this level, you're still who you say you are, in some part. That is to say I believe that there is actually some honesty to what these folks are campaigning on. For example, that Giuliani is actually worried about terrorism, no matter how much he's abused it and preyed on irrational fears, that Obama actually does want to create a more inclusive, less partisan governing arena, and that Edwards does in fact care about reducing poverty.

Maybe I really am giving all of them too much credit. But I think I should, if we are to combat cynicism and apathy and despair in our political process. So if I am willing to go that far, then I am also willing, not as a photographer or journalist only, but as a citizen, to feel some personal sympathy for a candidate conceding defeat, and to note the details of the circumstances and the inherent meanings of all of it.

If it weren't pathetic, it would be funny. You people complain about Edwards, but you've done nothing to address the issues he addressed, nor will you. All you know how to do is carp and complain. Edwards is a man. You're just mice.

Of course, you're probably not Democrats at all, and don't give a damn about t his country either. It shows in your blatantly jaundiced attitudes.

His expression shows me he is engaged with the speaker.

It also tells me he is disappointed.

Those ain't McMansions he is building. And if he lives in one, it is because he worked to earn it. Isn't that the "American Dream"?

The little electronic device front and center is the sum of his media coverage.

There is a hand in the bottom of the frame that seems to be reaching out to him. Small, being occluded by the electronic device, a way off, but still reaching to him. The people that Edwards would have represented had he been given a chance?

What I find most intriguing in this photo is what is missing: where is Elizabeth? She was on the platform and applauded and hugged her kids but didn't say a word and was the first one off after the speech was over. I see some urgency in Edwards' face to rejoin his family. Is Elizabeth okay?

Well said, Alan.

I think we are all becoming a bit schitzy trying to decipher all the hypertalk. Yet when we take a step back and out of frame, we tend to get a bit cynical about them all. I admit to being swept away by some of Obama's rhetoric, and at the same time, part of my brain is saying that he is speaking emotionally and we still don't know anything about him. In the last debate, I looked at both of the candidates and decided I could salve my conscience to vote for either of them in November. Then I take that step back and wonder what I'm not seeing.

In Alan's photo above. we see less of the 'pretty-boy' candidate, and more of the man who is serious about his work, intense, rugged, aging. He's not afraid to be seen in dungarees because that's what he works in and he has a pride in that work.

I don't have that image of Hillary because she has never been seen as anything except a politician. And we all know how real they are. Obama is a little less so because we have his back-story of work in the projects. Whether it's myth or reality, the image is still there. He doesn't really flog it like Rudy with 9/11.


if what I've heard is correct, Elizabeth's cancer is terminal. I think she is beginning to be overcome by it and that's possibly another good reason Edwards pulled out.

Lots of great commentary. I hate that good people have to lose, but am pleased that there are good people still in to win.

On to the picture: no one mentioned who he seems to be framed by, Barack and Hillary, on either side of him, watching him go.

Lots of great commentary. I hate that good people have to lose, but am pleased that there are good people still in to win.

On to the picture: no one mentioned who he seems to be framed by, Barack and Hillary, on either side of him, watching him go.

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