A John Edwards infomercial via PBS

Jerome J. Schmitt
John Edwards has a new infomercial being broadcast on PBS's "NOW"!  Sponsored unwittingly by taxpayers, it was taped before the scandal over his alleged "love child" broke (partially) into the news. The hour-long infomercial advertises his "Half in Ten" project, the title of which is a contraction for his stated goal of cutting poverty in America in half within ten years.  The nebulous project is a transparent pretext to maintain the ex-senator's entourage (and his face on TV free-of-charge) while he plans his next political move. Edwards invokes the usual saccharine platitudes and failed public-policy prescriptions, albeit superficially acknowledging some of the shortcomings of past governmental "Wars on Poverty".  Notably absent is any indication of a selfless charitable donation from the Edward's own considerable wealth.

Consistent with the infomercial genre, the de rigueur role of sycophant studio host / adulatory master-of-ceremonies is played very convincingly by NOW's David Broncaccio. As this exuberant stock character, Broncaccio lobs leading softball questions -- at times feigning a fawning incredulity -- to the chief pitchman (huckster?), Edwards. Because this is an ad, dissenting opinions or contrary data are not permitted.  No embarrassing questions about Edwards' ludicrous claim to have "studied poverty" at a Wall Street hedge fund No comparison with other competing programs intended to achieve the same objectives. No real scrutiny of the history of failed anti-poverty programs or, for that matter, what it really means to be poor in 21st Century America. 

Instead, this (un)paid-program also features the genre's standard segments showing the perfectly-tailored and -coiffed (but nonetheless smarmy) pitchman, Edwards, on stage answering planted questions from the audience, the purpose of which are to cue scripted-displays of his wit, charm, smile, empathy and effortless mastery of the subject.  Clearly anticipating a return to a political role, Edwards insists he is the best equipped to serve as the "voice" of down-trodden Americans.

One would never guess from PBS's coverage, but Conservatives are equally concerned about the suffering of disadvantaged Americans -- and indeed the poor around the world -- but we are not taken in by the self-aggrandizing claims of slick but shallow Washington politicians announcing they can solve age-old problems pronto.  We know lamentably that the root causes of poverty are persistent and largely inherent in the human-condition -- and not amenable to solution by heavy-handed federal programs.  Prosperity is the best permanent "cure" for poverty. 

It would be nice for once to see PBS report some of the countless, inspiring stories of individual Americans who achieve genuine prosperity for their families every day through honest hard work, service, entrepreneurship, creativity, diligence, resourcefulness, frugality, persistence, education and savings -- many celebratory and uplifting stories that are unique and interesting -- containing the sort of useful information and positive role-models proven to help individuals ameliorate their own poverty.  Instead, PBS once again uses precious and limited public resources to slavishly extol the showy but ignorant ploys designed to prop the failing political career of yet another big-government demagogue. 

Where's the liberal "Fairness Doctrine" when you need it?
John Edwards has a new infomercial being broadcast on PBS's "NOW"!  Sponsored unwittingly by taxpayers, it was taped before the scandal over his alleged "love child" broke (partially) into the news. The hour-long infomercial advertises his "Half in Ten" project, the title of which is a contraction for his stated goal of cutting poverty in America in half within ten years.  The nebulous project is a transparent pretext to maintain the ex-senator's entourage (and his face on TV free-of-charge) while he plans his next political move. Edwards invokes the usual saccharine platitudes and failed public-policy prescriptions, albeit superficially acknowledging some of the shortcomings of past governmental "Wars on Poverty".  Notably absent is any indication of a selfless charitable donation from the Edward's own considerable wealth.

Consistent with the infomercial genre, the de rigueur role of sycophant studio host / adulatory master-of-ceremonies is played very convincingly by NOW's David Broncaccio. As this exuberant stock character, Broncaccio lobs leading softball questions -- at times feigning a fawning incredulity -- to the chief pitchman (huckster?), Edwards. Because this is an ad, dissenting opinions or contrary data are not permitted.  No embarrassing questions about Edwards' ludicrous claim to have "studied poverty" at a Wall Street hedge fund No comparison with other competing programs intended to achieve the same objectives. No real scrutiny of the history of failed anti-poverty programs or, for that matter, what it really means to be poor in 21st Century America. 

Instead, this (un)paid-program also features the genre's standard segments showing the perfectly-tailored and -coiffed (but nonetheless smarmy) pitchman, Edwards, on stage answering planted questions from the audience, the purpose of which are to cue scripted-displays of his wit, charm, smile, empathy and effortless mastery of the subject.  Clearly anticipating a return to a political role, Edwards insists he is the best equipped to serve as the "voice" of down-trodden Americans.

One would never guess from PBS's coverage, but Conservatives are equally concerned about the suffering of disadvantaged Americans -- and indeed the poor around the world -- but we are not taken in by the self-aggrandizing claims of slick but shallow Washington politicians announcing they can solve age-old problems pronto.  We know lamentably that the root causes of poverty are persistent and largely inherent in the human-condition -- and not amenable to solution by heavy-handed federal programs.  Prosperity is the best permanent "cure" for poverty. 

It would be nice for once to see PBS report some of the countless, inspiring stories of individual Americans who achieve genuine prosperity for their families every day through honest hard work, service, entrepreneurship, creativity, diligence, resourcefulness, frugality, persistence, education and savings -- many celebratory and uplifting stories that are unique and interesting -- containing the sort of useful information and positive role-models proven to help individuals ameliorate their own poverty.  Instead, PBS once again uses precious and limited public resources to slavishly extol the showy but ignorant ploys designed to prop the failing political career of yet another big-government demagogue. 

Where's the liberal "Fairness Doctrine" when you need it?