"AUTHENTICITY": STILL MEANINGLESS. J. beat me to it, but Marc Ambinder is obviously dead wrong to say that "John Edwards's haircut was a valid story to cover." The idea that only poor people or, more relevant to a presidential campaign, people who pretend to be poor, can advocate policies that help the poor is transparently illogical, and as J. says artificially skews politics to the right. (Was FDR more conservative than Reagan? According to the logic of Ambinder's argument, this is a fair assumption.)

This is all premised on the completely useless and always tautological concept of "authenticity;" as we can see from his post, these kind of personality critiques can always be spun so as to apply to Democrats but not Republicans even when they're engaged in objectively similar behavior. Ambinder also ignores that this smear isn't just about poverty hypocrisy but also about feminizing the Democratic candidate. But perhaps the most remarkable argument in Ambinder's failed defense of political discourse as dimwitted junior-high-school gossip is this:

There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards.

Fairly or unfairly? Granting that Ambinder isn't quite endorsing it, I'm amazed that anyone can see the question of whether or not reporters should use their reporting not to inform readers but to irresponsibly indulge their petty superficial prejudices about the individual candidates as a fairly debatable proposition. This open press corps contempt for Gore defined campaign 2000, and personally I think there are a lot of dead soldiers and Iraqis who think that what a president will actually do in office is more important that his or her suits and haircuts. Apparently, if the Democrats nominate Edwards we can look forward to another year of this kind of abominable conduct by the nation's political reporters, and hey, it doesn't matter to most of them if Antonin Scalia becomes the median vote on the Supreme Court.

--Scott Lemieux

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