Second-tier Democratic front-runners John Edwards and Barack Obama stepped up attacks on “establishment elites” and questioned the dishonest acts required to become an insider politician in a subtle attempt to discredit Hillary’s claims of experience.
Although struggling in the polls, neither Obama nor Edwards wants to engage in a direct battle with Hillary, who remains in a strong lead against any of her competitors in either party. Appearing on The Daily Show Wednesday night, Obama stated that “So much of what we talk about, so much of what we say, it’s not true, people know it’s not true, all the insiders understand that we’re just game-playing,” implying not only that all insider politics is corrupt and dishonest, but that he represents a change from that trend. As Hillary Clinton has campaigned on a policy of experience and having inside connections, this is also a small attack on her – implying that she is an example of politics as usual in Washington D.C.
In similar fashion, Edwards released text of a Speech Thursday morning criticizing the elites and the state of the government status-quo. In another indirect reference to Hillary, he sets up a view of “Old government” versus “New Government.” He talked about old ideas that did not work, and mentioned that we cannot simply turn back the clock to a happier time, a direct reference to the previous Clinton administration and a suggestion that the old policies will not work in the new political environment.
Despite these attacks, Hillary’s standing remains strong and her supporters believe both that she represents a drastic change from the last seven years of the Bush administration and that she has experience from her work in the Clinton administration. The fact that her suggestions are not completely new or that she had limited success implementing her policies does not seem to be a good way for the other Democratic candidates to catch up with her in the popularity rankings.
There are few policy disagreements that make these candidates stand out, so they are left with playing personality politics and attempting to discredit their opponents on a personal level. At the same time, they are aware of the risk of exposing too much weakness in a fellow Democrat, and so I predict these attacks will continue only in this subtle way in which they do not actually call their opponents out by name. Because of this limitation, Obama and Edwards are essentially campaigning to win the Vice-Presidential nomination under Senator Clinton.