Coatless in America

Mark Steyn is at his best in this piece on John Edwards. Here’s Steyn on Edwards’ “two Americas” speech:
“Even if you have never heard it, you know how it goes: there’s one America where Dick Cheney’s oil buddies are swigging down Martinis and toasting their war profits; but there’s another America where ‘tonight a 10-year-old little girl will go to bed hungry, hoping and praying that tomorrow will not be as cold as today because she doesn’t have the coat to keep her warm’.
“You would have to have a heart of stone not to be weeping with laughter at that line. But Democratic primary voters are not that rude. So they looked thoughtful and engaged, and they nodded and they applauded. And then they went out and voted for somebody else. After you’ve heard the speech a couple of times, you realise that John Edwards is perhaps the most condescending candidate in America. But the voters condescended right back, smiling politely at the clean-cut charmer, and then going away and forgetting about him. . .
“Edwards’s shivering 10-year-old can get a brand-new quilted winter coat for $9.99 at JC Penney, or secondhand for three bucks at my local thrift shop – at least until Edwards and Kerry crack down on the cheap textile imports they’ve been attacking these past two years. There may be two Americas, but Edwards’s America doesn’t exist anywhere from Maine to Hawaii. Even as a lurid Victorian melodrama designed to frighten prosperous soccer moms into voting against hard-hearted Republicans, it sounds ridiculous. . .
“Back when his maudlin ’twas-Christmas-Day-in-the-workhouse shtick was still new, I offered to buy a brand new coat for every 10-year-old coatless girl the Edwards campaign could produce if in return he included one substantive passage on foreign policy in his stump speech. I’m still waiting on both counts.”
UPDATE: Reader Walter Wallis adds: “I was especially impressed by the way liberals got around the offer, during the Reagan administration, to pay them some thousands of dollars if they could find a starving child somewhere. They subtly changed the reference to ‘In danger of becoming hungry’ which covers pretty much all of us.”


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