Event: John Edwards Reading
Place: Borders, Downtown, 18th and L
John Edwards was right at home Wednesday in front of the microphone in Borders to promote his book of the same name.
In Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives, the syrupy-talking Southerner who spent the last several months campaigning for Democratic candidates in nearly every state, asked dozens of politicians, celebrities, comedians, athletes, chefs and everyday people to write about the places where they grew up.
The vignettes and accompanying pictures of "A-frames and split-levels and mansions and ranches and apartments" are fascinating in their differences but remarkable in the similarities of what turns a house into a home. Actor Danny Glover grew up in the top floor of a house in Haight-Ashbury, a world away from social worker Robert Carr's mud-floor hut on a reservation in New Mexico, but both families ate meals together, divvied up chores among family members, balanced laughter and discipline, and were defined by an intense sense of optimism and support.
Yet as poignant as were the passages the senator read—one from Hank Azaria and the other his own—the people in the packed house wanted to talk politics.
Wearing a "Save Darfur" wrist band, Edwards reported on his trips to Sudan and Uganda. He suggested starting direct talks with North Korea and Iran. He spelled out a loose plan to withdraw troops from Iraq in 12-18 months. In short, Edwards, one of the front runners for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, positioned himself Wednesday as a politician with a global perspective whose focus is on restoring America's power and moral authority in the world.
The common criticism he faced in 2004 dealt with his lack of experience dealing with international issues. Since his stint as John Kerry's 2004 running mate, Edwards, the lawyer and one-term North Carolina senator, has run a center for poverty studies at the University of North Carolina.
In front of the microphone in the bottom floor of Borders, he at least spoke like a seasoned leader and diplomat. The question remains—will the people here at home trust his rhetoric over his resumé?