Perennial adviser to the presidential losers (but Senate winners!) Bob Shrum is out hawking a book, per Michael Crowley in The New Republic:
Things should always be interpreted in context. Given what we know about John Edwards, this is pretty believable, albeit with a touch of Crowley's artfully put caveat:
Shrum went on advising Edwards for several years, including as Edwards was contemplating his vote on the fall 2002 Iraq war resolution. In the one passage of the book already widely leaked, Shrum recounts how he and other political advisers pushed Edwards into a vote for the resolution that Edwards--and, even more so, his wife, Elizabeth--didn't want to cast. The episode didn't make Shrum look great. But the real damage is to Edwards, who comes across as a cipher taking orders from his handlers. As Shrum puts it: "[H]e was the candidate and if he was really against the war it was up to him to stand his ground. He didn't."
(Edwards aides have said Shrum exaggerates the importance of this meeting and wasn't in other pivotal meetings where Edwards deliberated. But, as an aide to a rival campaign recently pointed out to me, in a moment that passed largely unnoticed, Edwards seemed to confirm the basic thrust of this story during the first Democratic presidential debate last month in South Carolina. "I was wrong to vote for this war," Edwards said. "And the lesson I learned from it is to put more faith in my own judgment." It does sound as though Edwards is admitting that he allowed handlers to overrule his conscience.)
It's hard to know for sure. Which is, after all, the essential quality of a tell-all Washington memoir--and especially one from a spinner as experienced as Bob Shrum.Perhaps they were looking 10 years previous to Bill Clinton? I ain't sayin', I'm just sayin'.
Shrum is still happy with Kerry -- who he picked over Edwards in 2003. At the time, I was quite surprised, because it looked like Shrum was signaling that he was going to go with Edwards.
I think that's probably true, but there was/is also a chance that Kerry would've been a colossal failure as commander-in-chief during a crisis.
"When his back was plainly against the wall ... Kerry was bold and decisive. At other times, he tended to second-guess, revise, fiddle, confer with anyone in sight, and try to placate everyone around him. For him, I think the easier days in the White House might have been harder. But in a crisis, I believe Kerry would have shown the right stuff as president."
But sometimes campaigns give us a certain sense for who people are, and perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that George W. Bush has occasionally accepted military plans too easily. That is, after all, how he campaigned for president. See, eg, post-New Hampshire/pre-South Carolina primary 2000.
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