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U.S. Media Rediscover Poverty (Sort Of)

By Peter Dreier at TomPaine.com:

For at least a few days in July, the nation’s media paid attention to the plight of the 37 million Americans living in poverty. That’s because presidential candidate John Edwards brought them to New Orleans, rural Kentucky and Mississippi, inner city Cleveland and other places on his three-day, eight-state 1800 mile poverty tour …

Most reporters couldn’t resist mentioning that despite his background as the son of a millworker, Edwards is now a millionaire who lives in a 28,000 square foot house in North Carolina. Nor can they seem to avoid poking fun at Edwards’ biggest mistake during the campaign so far—the $400 haircut …

Few of the news stories mentioned that Edwards made his millions as a trial lawyer representing ordinary people against large corporations. And only a handful of stories pointed out that the two 20th century politicians most identified with helping the poor—Franklin Roosevelt and Bobby Kennedy—were born to great wealth …

Even those who disagree with Edwards’ progressive views are at least engaging in a debate about what the U.S. should do about so much poverty and economic insecurity in the midst of so much affluence. Even if Edwards doesn’t capture the Democratic nomination or the White House, that alone is an important victory.

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