07/24/2007 11:10 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Pearls Before Swine

"I live at an intersection of politics and public service. Public service is all about action."

Who said that?

"Compromise, usually described as consensus rather than capitulation, has become a goal. And the cost of compromise to principles and to real lives, well that doesn't seem to matter."

Or that?

Or this?

"...The way to build a fair and just society is not through baby steps, not through concession or incremental solutions, but with big ideas and with an obvious backbone to match."

A Democrat? A Republican? A Man? A woman?

Here's a little bit more...

"The face of poverty in this country is a single woman's face. "


"We don't have universal health care in this country because powerful corporations who profit from health care beat us. The pharmaceutical companies stole our tax money when they successfully lobbied, maybe the better words are "bullied" and "threatened," their way into protecting their industry from that old free market practice of bargaining for the best price. And our tax money was stolen too by Bechtel and Halliburton and a handful of connected corporations, who sought and were rewarded no-bid contracts in Iraq from an administration that has taken very good care of its friends and its financial supporters while it has failed to protect the most needy among us. Closing childcare programs, cutting medical research grants, charging veterans enrollment fees to go to V.A. hospitals, ignoring the poor and exploiting the immigrant. We have a Supreme Court that could look blatant sex discrimination, just last week, in the face and with a wink, protect the employer from any more than the cost of six months of its conduct, but as a nation, apparently, we shrug. We let them keep their dimes, or in the real world their billions, and we promise to fight tomorrow."

So -do you think you know who said these things yet?

If not, read a little bit more and you will find out...

"Silence is betrayal on the War in Iraq. I am monumentally disappointed in the silence that emanated from Washington on the recent vote to continue funding without timetables for withdrawal. At the very moment when we needed leadership on one of the most important issues on the entire planet, we got silence. We needed uncompromising rage, and we got silence. We needed courage, and we got silence. And that silence was, have no doubt about it, a betrayal: of the soldiers, of the voters in 2006, of humanity and morality."

"... All of us who believe in justice, all of us who believe in an America that should be a moral, not just a military leader in the world, have an obligation to speak out."


"We don't need more rhetoric. I personally haven't any time for rhetoric anymore. And I don't think the people who count on us have time for it either.


Do you give up? All of these are recent statements made by Elizabeth Edwards out on the campaign trail.

I didn't mean for this to seem like a test. But sometimes when we know the identity of the messenger -- we hear the message differently: We bring to their words a host of expectations and assumptions that steal away that initial burst of openness and the potential for connection.

If I were a gambler, I would bet that these words, and the actions that go with them, fit in with the way the majority of Americans are feeling right now and that the kind of leadership advocated for here...well ...looks pretty tempting.

So whether or not you support John Edwards ' candidacy, the words of Elizabeth Edwards are well worth listening to. But consider this:

After what we've been living through, and when we really look at the challenges we face, from the war and America's place in the world... to the environment to issues of healthcare -- let's listen and see who talks about poverty or Darfur and workers. And then has a plan to do something about them... then let's listen to the messenger and to the substance. Let's see who is moving past the rhetoric... And now let's listen to Elizabeth Edwards, because like Mrs. Edwards, I too believe that silence on all of these issues is a betrayal and that we have no time for political rhetoric anymore. Her sense of urgency is something we should all embrace and like her, I'm tired of waiting, too.

The problem is too many of us have allowed ourselves to be distracted by those who don't want to see former Senator John Edwards capture the Democratic Presidential nomination. In part I think they are afraid of a well-off-self-made-trial lawyer-turned-advocate-for the poor and the average working American.

Why is that?

All too often we demand perfection and end up settling for mediocrity or worse. This is undoubtedly the strangest, longest and maybe even the first National primary campaign this Country has ever seen; this is the good news and the bad news. Good because it should give us all a real opportunity to get to know the field of candidates well before we cast our votes. Bad because there is too much time for others to paint the indelible portrait of those candidates that "they" would like us to take with us into the voting booth. If we have learned nothing over the past eight years from watching the political propaganda machine at work then shame on us. Not to mention the close to 2 billion dollars that will be spent by all the candidates on both sides trying to build up or tear down their man or woman between now and inauguration day.

Let's have a moment of silence for all the good that 2 billion dollars could do...

The perception of John Edwards could be the thing that keeps Americans away from a real assessment of who he is and what his campaign is attempting to be. His "Brand" is sadly becoming solidified to kindle only negative thoughts of privilege, hypocrisy and opportunism every time we see his face, his house and his hair.

Here's my humble but considered view of the situation. "They" say that we vote our values. I agree with that. But I would add that we shouldn't have to wait until inauguration day to see our potential leaders start leading.

So let's look at what Senator Edwards has been doing since he and John Kerry failed to make it to the West Wing in 2004:

How many Americans know that over the past several years, Senator Edwards has walked 85 picket lines to draw attention to the value of workers to join a union and have a chance at some economic security for themselves and their families?

How many know that in spite of his consultants and advisors telling him repeatedly that if he ever wanted to seek high office again he should not be the founder of a poverty center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and he did it anyway. Why? Because he believed and believes still that poverty drains our economic and human resources and because it is wrong.

Do Americans disagree with this? Really?

These same consultants repeatedly crossed out the phrase in drafts of a 2005,op-ed piece in The Washington Post that began with: "I was wrong." In reference to his vote to authorize President Bush to wage war on Iraq. They crossed it out and he kept putting it back in. And it ended up in. They didn't wear him down.

And yet, how many people have seen the spoof video of him primping before a television interview accompanied by the song "I feel Pretty"?

813, 197 people as of July 23rd at 11:30 AM.

Is that really that big a deal? Really?

Now I'm not asking you to support John Edwards for president -- exactly. Though I do think he would make the best next president of the United States -- the one that at the moment - only exists now in our hearts and in our collective imaginations. I am only gently (or not so gently) suggesting that you stop looking for some hero or white knight to come riding in to town to save the day. That you realize that the attacks on Edwards come primarily from those -- Republicans and fellow Democrats alike -- who don't know what to make of what he says and how he acts upon what he says because it is threatening. We all have to challenge ourselves at this moment; to try to rise to this historic and transformational moment we find ourselves in as a country.

There is a lot about the upcoming election we cannot control or foretell: Have we fixed voting machine fraud and restored our faith in the process of how elections are conducted? Probably not. Are we going to be hypnotized again by swiftboaters and campaign ads and pundits providing us with a narrative they want us to repeat over and over again until we actually believe it all to be the truth? We have before. Are we so sure of what we are so sure of now that it will all make sense next February when the Iowa caucuses and the early primary states start voting for a candidate and decide our fate? I really hope not.

On July 29th will have Elizabeth Edwards as their keynote speaker at their annual conference in Chicago Illinois. Go here for information about the conference between now and then Lisa Stone; co-founder of blogher will be soliciting questions from women (and men) across the country for Mrs. Edwards. She will be talking about hate speech, the 2008 election, life and answering your questions.

These are the opportunities to take advantage of. This is where technology is our friend and gives us all the chance to challenge those seeking to lead us and challenge ourselves to see beyond our often-erroneous preconceptions.

Okay. I am nearly done. Just want to leave you with one more quote from Mrs. Edwards:

"Leadership is about action. It's about admitting failures and taking corrective action, which also has been missing. It is about vision and principle. It is really not so hard to express your vision, if, and this is a pretty big if: If you happen to have one. And picky me, if you don't have one, move over and let someone serve who does!"