RE: THE TIMES...

RE: THE TIMES AND EDWARDS. To say a bit more on the New York Times' John Edwards story, shouldn't the question of ends enter in here? The piece uses a lot of ominous adjectives and innuendo to note that though Edwards' Poverty Center was a "a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty," the center raised funds that "paid Mr. Edwards's expenses while he walked picket lines and met with Wall Street executives. He gave speeches, hired consultants, attacked the Bush administration and developed an online following. He led minimum-wage initiatives in five states, went frequently to Iowa, and appeared on television programs. He traveled to China, India, Brussels, Uganda and Russia, and met with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and his likely successor, Gordon Brown, at 10 Downing Street."

Well, Brown and Blair have spearheaded the UK's remarkable efforts against child poverty, which Edwards has mentioned in speeches. So that hardly seems problematic. Indeed, this all seems like an extremely successful venture. Edwards raised some money to fight poverty. He used a certain amount of that money to finance his own pre-presidential campaigning, which was entirely focused on poverty reduction. During that campaigning, he spent an enormous amount of time...talking about poverty, and restoring its place in the national political discussion. Given that the sum of money we're talking about is $1.3 million, how has this not been an extraordinarily effective anti-poverty center? Granted, among its methods were to enable a national politician to continually raise the issue's profile through his personal advocacy, but isn't that what folks donating to a John Edwards poverty center were expecting? And hasn't Edwards -- who still brings up poverty in his speeches, just released a book on the subject, and whose efforts spurred Matt Bai to write a New York Times Magazine cover story on the reemergence of the issue in the national political discourse -- proven very, very effective? If you care about poverty, this seems like $1.3 million well spent.

--Ezra Klein

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