Monday, November 20, 2006

John Edward's Kid: Living Proof that there are Two Americas

You know, I was about to just let this go. A few days ago, I got my hands on a copy of the world’s most sanctimonious press release from Wal*Mart, trumpeting that for all John Edwards’ crap about the evils of Wal*Mart, one of Edwards’ staffers tried to jump in line to get the Senator a Playstation 3 from Wal*Mart.

Yeah, it was pretty blogworthy, but again, this was the most sanctimonious press release ever and my tolerance for such things is low.

Then I read a little bit more on the incident. Jeff Taylor at Reason writes what I’d like to think I would have about Edwards the Wal*Mart shopper in the context of Edwards’ previous statements on the company.

That got me curious, so I started hunting around for other commentary on Edward’s statements

From the AP story:

“Edwards, the Democrats' vice presidential candidate in 2004, spoke Wednesday to supporters of union-backed on a conference call launching the group's holiday season campaign to pressure Wal-Mart for better labor standards.

In the call, he repeated a story about his son Jack disapproving of a classmate buying sneakers at Wal-Mart. "If a 6-year-old can figure it out, America can definitely figure this out," Edwards said.

For the record, John Edwards, six year old kids do not buy sneakers at Walmart.

Their parents do.

I, for one, wouldn’t buy my theoretical kid’s clothes at Wal*mart because the clothes at Wal*mart are, on the whole, fugly.

My guess is two kinds of parents buy their kids sneakers from Wal*mart:

1. Poor parents who can’t afford to do otherwise.
2. Stingy parents who (one hopes) don’t realize that little kids are brutal to each other over such things.

When I was in elementary school there was a kid whom the other kids called “K-mart Kid” because her single mom bought her cheap clothes.

Kmart Kid is now 30 and doing cool stuff in the Physics department at a University in Colorado.

But I doubt she has forgotten what she went through.

Linguist Friend has written before about his gay son, and I think mentioned that when his son was six, a friend of LF’s predicted that the son was going to grow up to be gay.

My early prediction? This Edwards kid is going to grow up to be an asshole. And even if we believe everything the Edwards campaign has said about how the Edwards had no idea the staffer buying his Christmas presents was going to use Walmart, Daddy’s pride in his son's self-righteousness leaves little question where kiddo gets it from.



Anonymous said...

I think you're being a bit hard on John Edwards. While I agree that the comment was unwise and probably not well thought out, I think Edwards' point is about Wal-Mart's labor practices, which are deplorable. As for Edwards' six-year-old, I think we've all done things we might not have been proud of when we were six -- don't you? I don't think every six-year-old in the world who ever said or did something stupid turned out to be an asshole, do you? Unless you think that the world is full of assholes, in which case I might agree with you.

I would also point out that no matter how out of touch he may be now -- and I admit that he is probably pretty out of touch, like all national politicians -- at least John Edwards comes from a working class family that has dealt with some of the things that working class families today are still dealing with. Contrast this with President Bush, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, or John McCain, born into a wealthy military family.

I think you've probably read too much into Edwards' comment in the first place, and I think that your attack on his six-year-old was way out of line. Of course, what I think doesn't matter much since this is your blog, but there you have it.

Joel Monka said...

Nate, I think it's less about an attack on the kid, than identifying the tree by the fruit that fell from it- in other words, it's good evidence that Edwards himself is probably a bit of an ass.

Don't be too impressed with his "working class" schtick, either- as the old joke goes, "Of course he cares about the poor- that's how he avoids being one of them." For Edwards, it's all about union votes. Even his support of "Living Wage" is actually about uniuon votes- many unions have payscales linked to a multiple of the minimum wage. If a union job is listed at 3 times minimum wage, then a $2.00 increase in the minimum wage- just a cost of living increase- becomes a $6.00 union raise, an amount large enough to grab a few votes.

Anonymous said...

Having Wal-Mart shoes or K-Mart clothes does not make a child a target for abuse.

Being a child makes a child a target for abuse.

As far as I can tell, this is pretty much a universal phenomenon.

Just wanted to point that out.

~Em (friend of Epilonious)

p.s. Also: Children parrot what they hear their parents say and do. It doesn't mean the child understands what's going on. Sure, at 6, a kid could be told by his parents "Some people make less money than we do and that's unfair," but are they really going to understand the economics of $6.50 an hour paying for food/rent/utilities/childcare? No. I don't think most 6-year-olds have the attention span to really understand the problem.

Chalicechick said...

Any friend of Eplionius is a friend areound here, of course.

That said, every kid gets teased a little about something.

But Kmart Kid got it worse than any other kid I saw growing up. And judging by my ten year high school reunion, some of the kids who treated her badly still sucked as adults.

Nate's right, this is mostly supposed to be about Kiddo's dad. I would take out the last bit, except nobody's comments would make sense. So I will admit here that I was over the line at the last bit.

And if kids are too young to understand complexities, maybe that a kid agrees with you isn't muchh to brag on.

Anonymous said...

Your link didn't work for me, so I don't know what the article said. But, this morning on the radio they were talking about an article that said an Edwards staffer was shopping at Walmart and pushing to the head of the line BECAUSE he was connected to Edwards. The person went on to say that Edwards did not know about it, or authorize it, and the shopping was for the staffer himself and he was just coming up with an excuse to cut in line all on his own. Is that the incident you are referring to?
You sound like you really dislike Edwards. Did he do something to you? Have you met him?

Bill Baar said...

The Walmart talk from Edwards and the democrats is simply a joke.

Read Samuleson's Walmart as Political Diversion.

America's political culture routinely demands at least one hideous corporate villain. In recent decades that role has fallen to General Motors, IBM, Exxon Mobil and Microsoft; now Wal-Mart has assumed the mantle. But these wishy-washy politicians have missed the obvious solution to the Wal-Mart problem: nationalization.

If Democrats were serious they'd talk about incomes (the way McGovern did) and using EITC to achieve it (the way Nixon did).

But Democrats haven't been a serious left party in years.

Anonymous said...

And if kids are too young to understand complexities, maybe that a kid agrees with you isn't much to brag on.



Anonymous said...

The comparison to kids' picking on K-Mart Kid seems unfair. According to the WakeUpWalmarters, "The best story of the speech was when Edwards talked about his son Jack. When Jack learned someone had bought something at Wal-Mart, Jack politely reminded the person that Wal-Mart doesn’t treat its workers fairly. As Sen. Edwards said, "If my 6 year old son can understand, then every American can understand."

If your classmates picked on K-Mart Kid because they objected to Chinese sweatshops, it's still not nice to pick on people, but I have a little more time for them than if they were doing it because K-Mart is cheap.

And I think there's a definite populist side to the anti-big box movement. C.f. Alan Jackson, "Now the stores are lined up in a concrete strip
You can buy the whole world in just one trip
And save a penny cause it's jumbo size
They don't even realize
They're killin' the little man
Oh the little man"

"If Democrats were serious they'd talk about incomes (the way McGovern did) and using EITC to achieve it (the way Nixon did)."

As a friend who was surprised to learn that the EITC was Nixon's/ Friedman's idea later pointed out to me, Clinton expanded upon the EITC to include individuals as well as families, at the same time he was supporting a gentler form of the Republicans' version of welfare reform. (Ah, the Phil Gramm classic of having anyone who'd ever had a drug conviction be permanently ineligible for benefits. Because getting screwed by the government is what recovering addicts really need.)

This same friend thought it would be a great idea to go ultra-Gramm (well, he's a former staffer, guess I shouldn't be too surprised) and just have the government demolish its assistance bureaucracy and use the money to give every household $30k a year instead.

Chalicechick said...

First off, can we please stick to Thumper's mother's rule? If you can't make your point without personal attacks, is it really worth making?

Second of all, am *I* the one who got Edwards' kid involved in this debate?

Edwards is the one who brought up that his kid "politely*" gave another kid crap about not having socially conscious shoes.

Third of all, please don't use the kid's name, though it's probably OK since you never used his last name next to his first name. When you google Kiddo's name, I don't want this to show up.


*Only the Anti-Walmart lobbying group uses the word "politely" in reference to the way he said it. None of the news stories do. And I've never known six year olds to be especially polite about such things.

Anonymous said...

OK, even if it wasn't "politely," there's still a difference between, "Hey, my daddy says Wal-Mart is bad to its workers, you shouldn't shop there" versus "Hey, there's the girl in the crappy Kmart clothes."

For one thing, I bet the former is a pretty individual complaint, whereas the latter depends on mass taunts. If you think there's a widespread consciousness among 6 year olds about labor practices, you must know more sophisticated kids than I do.