NYT columnist: Compared to Elizabeth Edwards, Clinton and McCain come off as Cheese Whiz
NYT columnist Frank Rich chimes into the presidential race on Sunday, smashing pundits who pontificated on the news that Elizabeth Edwards had Stage 4 cancer and asserting that her brutal honesty upsets efforts by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 'straight talk' campaigns.
"Elizabeth Edwards' choice to stay in the political arena despite a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis didn't tell us anything we didn't already know about Elizabeth Edwards," Rich writes. "But we have learned a great deal about the political arena from the hubbub that greeted her decision. For all the lip service Washington pays to valuing political players who are authentic and truthful, it turns out that real, honest-to-God straight talk about matters of life, death and, yes, political ambition, drives "some people" (to use Katie Couric's locution) nuts."
"Americans understood," he writes. "But others who muse on politics for a living responded with bafflement and implicit moral condemnation...A Washington correspondent for Time (a man) fretted that 'Edwards' supporters, and surely many average Americans' will be wondering when his 'duties as a husband and a father' will 'trump his duty to his country and the cause of winning the White House'...A Washington Post columnist, identifying herself as a fellow mother, faulted Mrs. Edwards for not being sufficiently protective of her children."
...It will be good for the country if John Edwards can stay in this race for the duration, whether you believe he merits being president or not. (For me, the jury on that question is out.) The more Elizabeth Edwards is in the spotlight, the more everyone else in the arena will have to be judged against her. Next to her stark humanity, the slick play-acting that passes for being "human" and "folksy" in a campaign is tinny. Though much has been said about how she is a model to others battling cancer, she is also a model (or should be) of personal transparency to everyone else in the presidential race.
Of McCain and Clinton, Rich writes, "They want us to believe that they are speaking in a direct, unfiltered manner, but so far their straight talking, even without Elizabeth Edwards as a yardstick, seems no more natural than Cheez Whiz."