THE BLOG

Edwards' Big Announcement Drives Populist Wedge Between Dem Opponents & K Street

04/21/2007 02:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I just received this Edwards press release:

On Saturday, April 21st, 2007, Senator John Edwards will deliver the keynote address at the Michigan Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner and will announce his opposition to the South Korea trade deal. The Bush administration is finalizing details of the agreement and is expected to submit it to Congress for approval later this spring...[Edwards said trade deals] "must include strong labor and environmental standards and lift up workers in both countries...Congress should make it clear to the President that it will override any agreement that does not protect American jobs and American interests."

Big question: Will the other Democratic candidates join Edwards' call, or will they stay silent in deference to K Street and Wall Street?

I ask this question honestly, and it is one Edwards is certainly going to start pressing. He knows that, for instance, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are surrounding themselves with and relying on Bob Rubin's Wall Street machine - a machine that exchanges massive amounts of campaign cash for candidates' complicity in a trade policy that includes stringent protections for corporate profits, but no protections for human rights, labor rights or the environment (the Korea deal is particularly disgusting, considering it extends a new free trade zone to the Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea - thus forcing American workers to compete with workers who are literally enslaved by their own government). Edwards knows, in other words, that the trade issue is going to be a major point of contrast for him in the Democratic primary - not unlike it was for Dick Gephardt when he pulled off his Iowa primary upset in 1988.

And so the question is whether when faced with Edwards courageous populist stand, the other candidates in the race will bow down to their Wall Street masters, or move towards a middle-class agenda? Edwards is, in short, driving a wedge between K Street/Wall Street-backed candidates and K Street and Wall Street itself. It is not only a gutsy move, but a politically brilliant one - and it will be interesting to see what happens.