Howell Raines Is Back … This Time in DC, LA

By: E&P Staff

Who would have thought, a little more than a year ago, that Howell Raines would command prime real estate for commentary on the 2004 Democratic Convention in The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, not The New York Times?

Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times, wrote an opinion piece on Democratic populism for the Post earlier this week, and weighs in today in the Los Angeles Times with a review of Sen. John Kerry’s acceptance speech, and some previous speechmaking at the convention.

Raines declared that “Kerry exceeded expectations with an exceptionally well-crafted speech,” but added that “when it comes to star power, the real entertainment value has been in the talent auditions featuring Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.” Then he offered a few tart observations:

* “During tumultuous applause for Obama’s speech, the television camera caught Hillary Clinton looking away at one point and looking somber at another. Mrs. Clinton applauded in the right spots and is too smart a politician not to treat a potential rival with respect. But it would be naive not to think that Mrs. Clinton, potentially the first female president, was not assessing the formidable debut of a man touted as a contender to be the first black president.”

* “Even so, fans of both Mrs. Clinton, an iconic figure to Democratic women, and Obama, the party’s first rock star since Bill Clinton’s pre-Monica days as ‘Elvis,’ had to be worried by Edwards’ smooth speech, up-from-the-cotton-mill biography and aggressively telegenic family. If Kerry wins the presidency, his vice president will become a betting favorite to succeed him.”

* “The declaration by Edwards, the vice presidential nominee, that it is ‘immoral’ for a nation as rich as the United States to have 35 million people living in poverty must sound archaic to New Democrats schooled to boast that their hearts are not so liberal after all and certainly never bleed before the cost analysis is completed.”

* “Kerry is lanky and lantern-jawed, but in the right light he’s also Lincolnesque. And there’s no question that he’s lucky, having been well born and well educated and having had a good war in Vietnam.”

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