Friday, August 22, 2008

Just who is Chet Edwards?

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Obama Democratic Veepstakes is approaching a frenetic and feverish pitch. Is it Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, or even Hillary Clinton? Surprisingly, and perhaps to the dismay of many progressives, liberals, and democratic voters the answer may be a resounding, “No.”

The name Chet Edwards outside of Texas, the halls of Congress, or the inside of Nancy Pelosi’s rolodex, is a name unfamiliar to most Americans. So, just who is Chet Edwards? Quietly, yet not completely unnoticed by many politicos and pundits, he is widely considered to be one of Obama’s finalists on his list of candidates for the coveted VP slot.

Chet Edwards currently serves the 17th Congressional district of Texas as a moderate democrat. He is a prolific legislator, with little national exposure, yet has distinguished himself as a centrist with a rather curious and capricious voting record.

A telegenic man—with a visage analogous to a televangelist—is also fashionable with Speaker Pelosi. On August 3, 2008, she extolled his “extraordinary credentials” and stated “I hope he will be the nominee” to ABC's "This Week".

While Edwards is largely an unknown nationally, he is a productive, if not hectic, lawmaker. In addition, he is the chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee and sits on a bevy of other committees and subcommittees in the House.

Filtering Edwards through a democratic prism may prove to be dificult and even a harder sell to hardline progressives as a running mate for Obama. The website OnTheIssues has amassed an extensive, if not exhaustive list of how Edwards has voted— and where he stands—on more than 24 issues, ranging from abortion to the economy.

A close examination of his enigmatic stance on a wide range of policies reveals Edwards voted in favor of the invasion of the Iraq War, gave the nod to telcom immunity, registered an “aye” for the Bankruptcy Reform bill, which now requires partial debt repayment and even stands with John McCain and George Bush on drilling in AWNR.

Unfortunately, his conservative chops do not end there, but include a record of anathema toward the gay and lesbian community by casting his lot with Republicans on the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 – a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. Among prominent liberal and progressive bloggers, he is considered a “Bush Dog Democrat,” an epithet clearly denouncing him as anything but a “Progressive Democrat.”

Sadly, Chet Edwards has too often curried favors for the political right, racking up a congressional record that paints his voting sheet more red than blue. His overt penchant for gun rights and arms makers, aversion to raising CAFE standards and endorsement of forest thinning projects certainly will be met with strident condemnation from gun control and environmental groups.

Save for a few breadcrumbs meant to throw off “low information” voters from his true political stripes—chiefly his vow to keep social security out of the hands of Wall Street—Chet Edwards is another Repulican-lite masquerading as a Democrat.

The Obama campaign in recent days has confirmed Edwards was contacted—and possibly vetted—but has said little else as to his status or standing with Obama as a potential running mate in 2008. Nevertheless, he appears to be in strong contention, helped along by the behest of Nancy Pelosi, as the Democratic Party’s Vice Presidential candidate to oppose Republican John McCain on November 4.

While Obama’s pick for VP still remains steep in mystery, Edwards’s sudden emergence into the national spotlight as a high probability candidate for Vice President portends another likely losing centrist ticket for the Democrats. As John Kerry firmly demonstrated in 2004, a center-right campaign for the Democratic Party is a certain death knell.

What we do know is that whether any given voter stands for or against Republicans, it is certain when the people are given the choice between a genuine conservative or a fake liberal, America always chooses the authentic contestant, if only for not trying to fool the public – issues, policies and object national needs be damned.

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