(At front of hotel ballroom, ELIZABETH EDWARDS taps the podium mike.)
Is this thing on? Oh good.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to today's press conference. As we said, John has an important statement to make. But first, I'd like to make my own statement.
(Flashes go off in room as photographers move in.)
Here it is. Democracy in this country is in really bad shape, and we can put much of the blame at the feet of all of you, the members of the media.
So many of you have it so much better than most Americans. You have more job security, better health care, you live in nice neighborhoods and chances are, your kids will go to the best schools. And I'm not saying that's wrong. I am saying that it distorts your view and thus, the way you do your jobs.
John has been trying to speak to the forgotten citizens of our country: people with minimum-wage jobs, no health insurance, people who live from paycheck to paycheck. It doesn't take much to knock someone like this into a downward spiral, one from which they may never recover. Their children go to struggling schools in dangerous neighborhoods, and odds are against them ever working their way up and out.
John recognizes the root causes of these problems. Jobs that went to other countries, inadequate education, a tax system that favors the wealthiest over the working poor. He understands the game is fixed, the deck is stacked.
And because he sees this, and because he speaks out, our media has seen fit to ridicule him.
(Grumbling from press corps. ELIZABETH raises her hand.)
Wait, let me finish.
There is something very wrong in this country when we're trying to choose a new president, and the bulk of media coverage is devoted to absurdly insignificant things like Senator Clinton's cleavage, Senator Obama's middle name and John's hair. The reason I point out the economic discrepancies between the members of the press and the people for whom John speaks is that I think it explains how you have lost your way.
You belong to a profession that once prided itself on comforting the afflicted - and afflicting the comfortable. Now you seem to be more interested in rubbing elbows with the rich and powerful and promoting yourselves. If you're one of those people, shame on you. You reflect so poorly on yourselves. Maybe you need to remember this isn't a game. Public policies affect real people and their lives.
Now, powerful interests in this country are watching John's campaign closely and doing what they can behind the scenes to stop him. You work for some of them. Some of them consider John to be a dangerous man. Well, John is only dangerous to those who think they deserve special economic privileges at the expense of the most vulnerable.
Now, I'd like to say something else here: I love my husband's hair. I take great pleasure in his hair. But for you to reduce him to his hair - well, that's cynicism of the highest degree.
Ladies and gentlemen, my husband, John Edwards.
(The members of the press gasp and dozens of flashes go off again. JOHN EDWARDS enters the room. His head is now shaved and he is completely bald. ELIZABETH moves back and JOHN takes her place at the podium.)
Thank you all for coming today. How do you all like my new look?
While we all see the humor in this, I actually did this for some very serious reasons.
My campaign is - and has always been - about being a voice for the voiceless. Our government stood by during Katrina while American citizens died. People in this country who wake up every day and go to work are struggling with insurance companies that refuse to pay for their treatment. Children go to school hungry. Their schools don't have enough books.
In America, the greatest country in the world, children shouldn't go hungry. They just shouldn't. People shouldn't have to live in pain because they can't afford medical treatment. We're better than that. People should make a living wage for a hard day's work. They shouldn't have to choose between food and medicine. You shouldn't have to lose your house when you have cancer because your insurance company refuses to cover a stem-cell transplant - or worse, die because you don't have insurance at all.
These are some serious problems.
And instead of talking about these issues, you have chosen instead to talk about my hair. Well, I thought I'd remove one major obstacle if there was even a small chance it could get you to focus on the needs of ordinary working men and women. I hope you're ready to have a real conversation about where this country is headed. I'll take some questions now. Yes?
Senator Edwards, how much did you pay for your haircut?