In an interview for the August issue of The Progressive, Elizabeth Edwards took both of her husband’s chief rivals for the Democratic nomination to task for their stances on Iraq and healthcare. Mrs. Edwards was asked if her husband’s vote to authorize the Iraq war was due to political pressure. “No. He made an honest decision. And he doesn’t make this excuse for himself. He troubled over this. This was one of a series of conversations that he had, on information that he could gather.”

“Mostly the anti-war cry was from people who weren’t hearing what he was hearing. And the resolution wasn’t really to go to war. The resolution, if you remember, was forcing Bush to go to the U.N. first. Of course, we expected him to actually listen to the U.N., which didn’t happen. The resolution was actually a slowing technique, so he felt like maybe it wasn’t ideal but I think he made a very difficult and good faith decision at the time,” she said.

Edwards continued, “But he doesn’t use that. You don’t hear him saying, “If I knew then what I know now” kind of stuff. He’s saying, “I made a mistake. I should have done more. I should have been more suspicious. I should have asked more questions.” Whatever was necessary to get to the right place. And having failed to do that, he takes responsibility for it.”

Edwards talked about Obama, “And honestly, the other candidates? Obama gives a speech that’s likely to be extraordinarily popular in his home district, and then comes to the Senate and votes for funding….So you are going to get people behaving in a holier-than-thou way.” Then she moved on to Clinton, “Now Hillary, I don’t know what Hillary’s objection is. She, even in the New Hampshire debate, said, “I made a mistake.” People are looking for a mea culpa from her. And when she buries a line like that—I give her credit for saying that—but when she buries that line. . . . We’re electing the leader of the free world, and just like the votes on this last funding bill, we’re looking for a leader.”

“They are very important leaders in the Senate. And we got thirteen votes on this last bill? Could they have influenced a few more votes? Probably not enough, but they should have been out there trying. They should have been making speeches about why it was they were doing this, and standing up and trying to rally. And they didn’t. They weren’t leaders. The point isn’t, “I got here first or I got here last.” The point is, in this moment, are you a leader?,” Edwards asked.

She also spoke about the difference between the Democrats’ talk and their actions. “Sometimes it seems we have these beliefs but it turns out it’s like a Hollywood set: It’s all façade and there’s no guts behind it. You listen to the language of what people say, particularly Obama, who seems to be using a lot of John’s 2004 language, which is maybe not surprising since one of his speechwriters was one of our speechwriters, his media guy was our media guy. These people know John’s mantra as well as anybody could know it. They’ve moved from “hope is on the way” to “the audacity of hope.” I’m constantly hearing things in a familiar tone.”

She criticized Hillary Clinton’s idea that America needs to develop the political will to deal with the healthcare issue. “Hillary is saying we need to develop a political will. She hasn’t been talking to people if she thinks we need to develop it. We do not. There is consensus on this issue. And Senator Obama—I’m glad he has a plan. I don’t know why it took six months, but I’m glad he has a plan now. It doesn’t cover fifteen million people. If you’re one of those fifteen million, it’s not universal for you. The fact that he says he’ll fix it later, that’s not the kind of bold response we need on a problem that is this important to America.” Edwards also talked about her battle against cancer, and her health.

I think Mrs. Edwards is spot on with most of her criticism. I am glad that somebody finally acknowledged that Barack Obama sounds a lot like the 2004 version of John Edwards, and she is also correct in that the Democratic Party long ago sold its values down the river. All the candidates talk a great game when they are campaigning in the primaries, but the party leadership’s actions often don’t match up with the rhetoric.  She is also right that Clinton and Obama talk about leadership, but have rarely demonstrated any in their Senate careers. The problem for Edwards and her husband is that people don’t want to hear the truth. They want to buy the dream, so John Edwards will likely remain in third, while Clinton and Obama duke it out for the nomination.

To read the full interview, click here. 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at

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