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Let's start with the obvious:  Bob Novak is not to be trusted.  Period.  And when I read one of his articles, I find myself always trying to figure out the slant — and to whose benefit it accrues — and why.  It is as though Bob provides a Beltway Cocktail Weenie puzzle in every column.

This morning, Novak has an op-ed in the WaPo that makes for some good read between the lines fun.  It's ostensibly about the Edwards candidacy for the 2008 Presidential nomination and labor's muscle possibly lining up behind him…but there is something between the lines in this one that I found rather interesting.

First of all, Novak spits out the word "labor" with a level of contempt generally reserved for child molesters — he's such a friend of big money that the thought of workers having rights must be physically painful for him – so anything he is saying that is alleged to be coming from the mouths of big labor's leadership?  Call me skeptical.  But Novak does understand power — and labor can put a lot of muscle behind a candidate in the Democratic party — so what is his motivation for discussing potential endorsement angles this early?

What Novak is saying about Edwards potentially having some heavyweight support from labor is accurate from what I have been hearing — in terms of the support part.  Edwards' "Two America's" speech stands out as one of the few moments where poverty and questions of economic fairness were even discussed at any level in the public square.   (And the policy questions which were posited in that speech have been explored more thoroughly with some pilot poverty programs through the One America foundation that the Edwards family set up after the 2004 loss.)

But it is this paragraph that made me wonder what Novak's true angle is:

The labor operatives pondering their '08 decisions also confess they are less than comfortable with a prominent role in the campaign for Edwards's wife, Elizabeth, who never has been a political spouse who stays in the shadows. It is not good news for Edwards if some Teamsters are put off by the triumvirate of John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards and Dave Bonior.

But Edwards's sunny aura and commanding presence can transcend the negative impact of anybody at his side….

So, let me get this straight: Novak says that labor has a problem with the Edwards marriage being a strong one? Or that Elizabeth Edwards needs to learn to shut her mouth and behave like a good little wife who only bakes cookies (or at least pretends to do so publicly for PR purposes) and doesn't bother her pretty little head about stuff like politics or caring about poor people or anything like that…unless it involves the baking of the aforementioned cookies, publicly, and for PR purposes?  No thinking for yourself, hon, you married a politician.

News flash for Novak:  women can both bake cookies AND think for themselves, thank you very much.

I have a feeling that this was meant as a smack at David Bonior, who was demonized by the right when he was the number two in the House under Dick Gephardt – perhaps as a means of getting some attention from John Edwards who is sure to take a peek at a Novak column disparaging his wife.  But what a condescending way to get attention.  Why choose the low road?

Oh wait, this is Bob Novak we are talking about, isn't it?

And does anyone really believe that Novak would write a column about a Democratic Presidential candidate (almost — announcement is said to be forthcoming from Edwards) and his choice of advisors, one of whom may or may not be causing a little concern for labor…out of the goodness of Novak's shriveled-up, blackened heart?  Do we look like we just fell off the politics truck? 

There are some other little tidbits in this article that just do not add up based on my contacts with labor.  But that "Elizabeth Edwards ought to stay in her place" paragraph just shot right out there as a "what the hell?" moment.  Was Novak's agenda a not-so-subtle reminder to conservatives about why they didn't like Hillary, version 2.0, and that they could re-live the heady days of health care reform with an Edwards victory?  Is it a warning shot across the Pickles bow?  It was just such a jarringly weird insert into this op-ed that it deserves a little scrutiny — and a whole lot of ridicule.

Hey Bob — no cookies for you. 

(But, just for fun, I thought you guys would get a kick out of this Handelsman animation.  Call this your early holiday giggle.)

UPDATE:  Eschaton has been temporarily bloggered.  But Atrios has set up a temporary site for wayward readers in the meantime.  It can be found here.