The Web can be liberating. "It's about bypassing the sieve of the mainstream media," says Elizabeth Edwards, wife and confidant of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards. "The idea that you have people standing between you and the voter is diminished, and the capacity to speak directly empowers candidates to trust their own voices." With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama hogging media coverage, campaigns can push their messages without paying for ads.
"In some ways, it's the way we have to go," Edwards says. "We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars. Now it's nice to get on the news, but not the be all and end all."
In a narrow sense, I think this is probably true. But it's a very, very narrow sense--much too narrow to make a fuss about it. And for that matter I think the media should be spending a lot of time focusing on the fact that the two people most likely to win the presidency in 2008 are a white woman and a black man. Seems to me like a pretty significant moment in American history! There were, though, better ways for her to convey her frustration.
For some reason I can't quite think of a good analogy. But as a mediocre analogy: Were John Edwards in the lead it would be no more appropriate for Hillary to say "we get less sympathy from the press because my husband is in pretty good health." Yes, the things people struggle with in life--being black or being a woman in America--occasionally offer some ancillary benefits. Nobody should begrudge them those benefits. My suspicion is that Elizabeth Edwards emphatically does not. She should clarify.