So, Edwards fails to get the win in Iowa and Obama or Clinton are much more likely to be the nominee than if Edwards had won. Then they'll either be the president or lose to the Republican. (Don't think it can't happen.)
I'm reminded of the saying that you get the politicians you deserve, which as a friend pointed out to me, is an American saying. (Europeans know that you often don't.)
But in this case it's true. The unions were too chickenshit to go whole hog for Edwards, even though he was by far and away the most pro-union of the three. Hilary Clinton had Mark Penn, union buster, as her chief. Obama mouths platitudes, but attacked unions for spending money on the election, as if they shouldn't have a say, and as if they are the problem in the US.
And it's pretty clear that Edwards was close enough that a full court union push probably would have shoved him over the top and let him take Iowa and then have a good shot at the whole enchilada.
Then there's the blogosphere. Salon's Joan Walsh said how proud she was that so many major bloggers didn't endorse a candidate this time around. Personally that sickens me. That sort of false objectivity, this refusal to have the courage of one's convictions, is what the blogosphere started off railing against. Now we do it, and in some cases it is done to maintain "access" just like the journalists we thought we were better than.
At the end of the day John Edwards couldn't seal the deal in Iowa. But at the end of the day candidates aren't just individuals and which candidates win and lose says less about the individual than about everyone else.
John Edwards didn't let anyone down this time. But a lot of people who were John Edwards natural allies let him down.
I find this particularly ironic in the case of unions, many of whom went for Clinton, thinking she was a shoe-in and by splitting their support managed to neither get in the machine candidate nor the candidate who actually believed in their cause. If Obama takes it all, unions will wind up with a man who doesn't owe them squat. They're going to be down on their knees for the rest of 2008 trying to make it up and while Obama will make nice, they won't find out if it's really taken till it's too late. After all, it's not like he needed their support, and it's not like they have any choice but to get behind him in a general.
Good job. Real good job. It's strategic decisions like this that have made the American labor movement what it is today.
In 2004 Democrats chose Kerry over 3 better men: Clark, Edwards and Dean. Then they lost the election. Let's see how it plays out in 2008
Follow Ian Welsh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/iwelsh