Is this a last-minute effort by the Inside the Beltway punditocracy to derail Edwards' electability argument? David Sirota seems to think so. In a post over at DailyKos Sirota writes the rise of populist candidates in both the Democratic and Republican primaries is causing full-scale panic in the exclusive salons of the DC Chattering Classes.
Rothenberg makes an astonishing prediction (emphasis mine)
But let’s be very clear: Given the North Carolina Democrat’s rhetoric and agenda, an Edwards Presidency would likely rip the nation apart – even further apart than Bush has torn it.
On Capitol Hill, Edwards’s “us versus them” rhetoric and legislative agenda would almost certainly make an already bitter mood even worse. He would in the blink of an eye unify the GOP and open up divisions in his own party’s ranks. Congressional Republicans would circle the wagons in an effort to stop Edwards’s agenda.
The punditocracy is failing to connect the dots. The populist message is appealing to voters across the political spectrum. How else can one explain libertarian Ron Paul's wild fundraising success, Huckabee (and Edwards) populist-fueled Iowa surges and the flailing campaigns of the deep-pocketed establishment candidates? Rothenberg failes to acknowledge that an Edwards Administration, if it materializes, will likely be sworn in with a stronger progressive Congressional majority in Jan 2009. The election's mandate could be stronger than any seen since the 1980s.
There is a growing discontent and deep unease afflicting America's middle and working classes. Health care, education, and the economy - Democrats' bread and butter issues - are rising to the top of voter concerns. The candidates addressing these issues most directly are the ones gaining traction as the first votes approach. This doesn't mean the populist insurgencies will eventually win the nominations, but it does illustrate the two divergent worldviews of the Inside The Beltway Bubble and the rest of America.