Geronimo : What if Osama Bin Laden was killed prior to 9/11?

I imagine he'll do better than Dubya but don't expect another New Deal, especially with a milder recession than OTL. Keep in mind, Edwards won't have the massive congressional majorities of Obama. My best guess is that things will go something like this.

1. Edwards' economic policies are able to delay the crash and make it better than OTL, but won't prevent it entirely. He manages to get tougher regulation of the housing market, which means the bubble deflates rather than completely collapsing.
2. By 2007/08 economic growth begins to slow, but the economy doesn't start shrinking until 2009 or so. Despite the slowing economy Edwards manages to win reelection by a narrow margin, though not as narrow as TTL 2004.
3. As the economy enters recession in 2009, Edwards' approval ratings quickly falls as he struggles to get a stimulus through a closely divided Congress. While the recession isn't as bad as OTL, it's still pretty bad, while the housing bubble deflating instead of popping lessens the financial pain lots of people still lose their savings.
4. The 2010 midterms result in Republicans taking control of both houses of Congress. I talked more about how no Obama and a milder Great Recession could lead to a different American political scene here.
5. While the economy begins to recover, Edwards remains unpopular, struggling with the new Republican Congress (though there's probably less obstruction than OTL) and after eight years voters are ready for a change, leading to the Republicans retaking the White House in 2012.

Again, this is just my speculation, I don't want Iwanh to feel like I'm writing his timeline for him.
But Im also wondering how would a shorter more mild recession affect Millenials by the mid 2010s? Would they manage to settle their carrers and settle down to start families? If that’s the case then it’s going to lead to a small baby boom of Gen Alphas.

Also on foreign policy since the GOP of TTL is more moderate being somewhat similar to the Rockefeller Republicans how do you think they would handle a resurgent Russia under Putin and a more assertive China under Xi Jinping in the second half of the 2010s?
 
i hope a smaller recession leds to millennials becoming a cooler/cozier version of gen x/baby boomers in the 80s

the problem i find with millennials IOTL
is that they know as much about technology as gen z

yet their trapped in that 2011 era ben the looney/spike tv style 90s nostalgia/emo loop because of 9/11

the thing im currently missing about people in gen x is that they were chill and cozy when it came to them having a beer and watching tv and listening to ACDC

yet they know nothing about technology other than how to press the start button in windows 95/XP and know nothing about gaming other than playing pacman at the arcades in the 80s, and maybe watching their kids play nintendo when they were kids

then you have my side of gen z (the zillennials) who IOTL just sit around and play call of duty some of which dont give a crap about furries (because mlp was popular when we were teens)

at least some of them are into anime
but these days i feel left out of my original friend circle because they arent into furries or games like quake or undertale

hopefully IOTL the older side of gen z ends up getting good taste
and actually gets into boomer shooters like quake and indie games like cave story

(with more furry and anime content thats aimed at us instead of being a millennial series in disguise as a gen z series like with like the 2012 beavis and butthead and futurama reboots, sly cooper or adult influencers like raywilliamjohnson or dirty rap musicians in disguised as disney channel stars like justin bieber)

hopefully the only good zillennial series is not just bionicle ITTL

and also gen alpha doesn't get force fed brainrot like cocomelon, skibidi toilet or even digital circus
and actually become what god wanted them to become
(and that is the smartest and most progressive generation who are also into furries and anime just like their older counterparts)
 
i hope a smaller recession leds to millennials becoming a cooler/cozier version of gen x/baby boomers in the 80s

the problem i find with millennials IOTL
is that they know as much about technology as gen z

yet their trapped in that 2011 era ben the looney/spike tv style 90s nostalgia/emo loop because of 9/11

the thing im currently missing about people in gen x is that they were chill and cozy when it came to them having a beer and watching tv and listening to ACDC

yet they know nothing about technology other than how to press the start button in windows 95/XP and know nothing about gaming other than playing pacman at the arcades in the 80s, and maybe watching their kids play nintendo when they were kids

then you have my side of gen z (the zillennials) who IOTL just sit around and play call of duty some of which dont give a crap about furries (because mlp was popular when we were teens)

at least some of them are into anime
but these days i feel left out of my original friend circle because they arent into furries or games like quake or undertale

hopefully IOTL the older side of gen z ends up getting good taste
and actually gets into boomer shooters like quake and indie games like cave story

(with more furry and anime content thats aimed at us instead of being a millennial series in disguise as a gen z series like with like the 2012 beavis and butthead and futurama reboots, sly cooper or adult influencers like raywilliamjohnson or dirty rap musicians in disguised as disney channel stars like justin bieber)

hopefully the only good zillennial series is not just bionicle ITTL

and also gen alpha doesn't get force fed brainrot like cocomelon, skibidi toilet or even digital circus
and actually become what god wanted them to become
(and that is the smartest and most progressive generation who are also into furries and anime just like their older counterparts)
I could definitely see Millenials as a more laid back generation with a short lived recession so basically after 2012 things in the US stabilize and just like the 90s, the 2010s would be a more stable decade domestically but worldwide there's tension brewing from the Arab spring to Russia & Eastern Europe over NATO expansion and the South China Sea but the US Military is better prepared for a potential great power conflict since ITTL many weapons systems like the F-22 never ended production and with the GOP likely dominating the US federal government they would likely begin to export the F-22 to allied countries likely Japan and Australia.
 
I could definitely see Millenials as a more laid back generation with a short lived recession so basically after 2012 things in the US stabilize and just like the 90s, the 2010s would be a more stable decade domestically but worldwide there's tension brewing from the Arab spring to Russia & Eastern Europe over NATO expansion and the South China Sea but the US Military is better prepared for a potential great power conflict since ITTL many weapons systems like the F-22 never ended production and with the GOP likely dominating the US federal government they would likely begin to export the F-22 to allied countries likely Japan and Australia.
I don't want to step into the lines of current politics of course, but with a calmer 2000s and 2010s and with presumably a smaller late-2000s recession, I assume that the political scene probably won't be as bat$hit insane as it is now. I don't see either the Democrats or the Republicans goings towards their current paths like they did in OTL nor would we likely see the rise of the far left and far right.
 
I don't want to step into the lines of current politics of course, but with a calmer 2000s and 2010s and with presumably a smaller late-2000s recession, I assume that the political scene probably won't be as bat$hit insane as it is now. I don't see either the Democrats or the Republicans goings towards their current paths like they did in OTL nor would we likely see the rise of the far left and far right.
If domestic politics on the federal level remain calm that ITTL it would be boring but I could see the rest of the world especially Eastern Europe and the Middle East being just as chaotic as OTL with the Arab Spring and tensions with Russia.

But in the US since the recession was much smaller and most middle class Americans especially Millenials managed to get entry level jobs that they majored in College or trained at trade schools allowing a new wave of consumerism to take hold like the mass adoption of smartphones by 2011 rather then the mid 2010s like in OTL. There would also be a boom of the tourism industry especially in Florida which puts massive stress on its aging Infrastructure.
 
If domestic politics on the federal level remain calm that ITTL it would be boring but I could see the rest of the world especially Eastern Europe and the Middle East being just as chaotic as OTL with the Arab Spring and tensions with Russia.

But in the US since the recession was much smaller and most middle class Americans especially Millenials managed to get entry level jobs that they majored in College or trained at trade schools allowing a new wave of consumerism to take hold like the mass adoption of smartphones by 2011 rather then the mid 2010s like in OTL. There would also be a boom of the tourism industry especially in Florida which puts massive stress on its aging Infrastructure.
We saw in the timeline about the potential rise of the far-right that could take place in Europe in the future.
 
And there’s one more thing on how the short lived recession of TTL would affect Millenials. if my generation managed to get their dream jobs and the unemployment rate drastically drops there would be a revival of 80s Yuppie culture but with Smartphones and social media. Heck Vaporwave might be mainstream because how similar of TTL’s 2010s America would be similar to the 80s. By the mid 2010s the flat design aesthetic which replaced Frutiger Aero in OTL might get replaced by an aesthetic movement inspired by the mid 80s to early 90s Memphis design mixed with the Y2K aesthetic of the late 90s to mid 2000s.
 
And there’s one more thing on how the short lived recession of TTL would affect Millenials. if my generation managed to get their dream jobs and the unemployment rate drastically drops there would be a revival of 80s Yuppie culture but with Smartphones and social media. Heck Vaporwave might be mainstream because how similar of TTL’s 2010s America would be similar to the 80s. By the mid 2010s the flat design aesthetic which replaced Frutiger Aero in OTL might get replaced by an aesthetic movement inspired by the mid 80s to early 90s Memphis design mixed with the Y2K aesthetic of the late 90s to mid 2000s.
HELL YES!
 
If the recession of TTL turns out to be mild and Millenials forming a new Yuppie middle class how would it affect the airline and travel industry? Would there be less mergers? Would there be an attempt to bring innovative low cost transatlantic air travel to Middle and working class Americans?
 
Part 74: Camelot Calling
Part LXXIV

Camelot Calling


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Illustration of President Edwards
It was all smiles in the White House. It was hard not to smile in that pearly castle these days; the doubters had been skewered and the President vindicated both on the domestic and foreign fronts.

The Republican's failure to recapture the House or Senate in the 2006 midterms had left them in a state of flux, their strategy of opposition had been consistently overshadowed and undermined by a President who knew how to command the airwaves, harvest positive headlines and rally his party in support of his agenda. If the midterms had been a referendum on his tenure, it was a success unseen for an incumbent President since the halcyon days of the Kennedy Camelot, praise which was well received by the first family.

With his State of the Union address, in front of the Democrat-held House of Representatives, Senate and a liberal-leaning Supreme Court. The President used the gathering to double down on his ‘War on Poverty’ agenda with a bold, headline-grabbing commitment.

“The American people care about poverty, both at home and across the world, they want to see opportunities for our poorest citizens, and security and liberty for all the Lord’s children.”

Pledging to tackle an issue that had haunted the Democratic administrations of yesteryear, dramatic healthcare reform.

“If we as a nation are to overcome poverty, well and truly, we must confront one of its greatest causes. Without access to health-care coverage, if one-thing goes wrong an unchecked cough, an infected cut, even a simple slip and fall entire lives can be thrown into turmoil, leaving working families destroyed”.

He was pushing for bold and expansive reforms to be made to greatly expand American healthcare coverage.

“Health care is a shared responsibility, and dramatic changes must be made, for, it’s time for this congress to stand up for every family and every child and build a truly universal system”.

Since the Roosevelt administration, reforming the American healthcare system was the holy grail of Democratic Presidents. Major rewards had been reaped, but so had major disasters. FDR’s efforts to create a universal healthcare system were thwarted in the 30s, Trumans died in the heat of the red scare, the party fractured during the Carter administration on the issue, and the last major reform initiative by Bill Clinton crashed and burned in 1993.

It seemed that any effort to unilaterally expand healthcare coverage, anywhere from a wholly nationalized European or Canadian-style system, to a private insurance model had each fallen, under a strong assault from reform opponents of many stripes.

Edwards's comments at the national address were designed to herald the opening foray of his administration’s new agenda item.

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(Left to Right President Edwards, President Kennedy)
Outside the attention-stealing healthcare debate, other battles were fought on Capitol Hill, notably over the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Souter had reportedly been dissatisfied with his life on the court for some time and despite being one of the youngest members of the highest court in the land, still blessed with good health he had made no secret of his desire to exit the body calling it the “world’s best job, in the world’s worst city” and flee for the more pleasant pastures of his New Hampshire home.

Souter had been originally picked by George H W Bush and was expected to rule as a conservative, however, had since flipped into an alliance with the court liberals like John Paul Stephens, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice Kathleen Sullivan, becoming the heart of the court.

His departure set off another showdown between Democrats and Republicans as the White House spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri announced the retirement, and the beginning of the search for a replacement “someone who shares the President's respect for constitutional values, with an understanding of the law not just in theory but in practice”.

And, after a lengthy and media-pruned search, Edwards opted for an unconventional choice, when he tapped the serving Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm as his pick for the opening.

The two had been close politically, providing a critical endorsement in the 2004 primaries and she’d provided a powerful keynote speech at the convention, the two were so close-knit that in the Michigan press, she was referred to as the female Edwards, and she had quickly jumped onto the Presidents anti-poverty agenda in Michigan.

At the announcement, Granholm herself acknowledged she would not be a typical Justice. “Thank you, Mr President, for those gracious words … I was brought to this country from Canada and recognize that I do not hold the same credentials, but both Republicans and Democrats recognise that a diversity of views and backgrounds should be just as relevant in the Courts as it is in Congress.”

Granholm was an unusual pick in many regards, she held a sparse legal record (at least when compared to most Supreme Court justices) a graduate of Harvard Law School a clerk for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a prosecutor and Michigan attorney general. “This is certainly an impressive career, and by all records, there is no criticism of her tenure, but it may not stack up with the Supreme Court.” Said Charles Ogletree a law professor.

While historically Justices had held elected political office, it was clear that the White House was prepared for the political backlash that would come with the appointment of a Democratic politician to the traditionally apolitical bench.

“There are many examples of seasoned politicization’s on the high court, Earl Warren California governor, President Taft, as far back as John Marshall who shaped the court in its early years was a congressman,” said Vice President Kerry as he defended the choice on the Sunday talk shows. Arguing that the confirmation hearings should determine whether she was qualified to sit on the bench.

Said hearings played out and as expected Republicans laid as many lines of attack as they could on Granholm, that she was obviously going to be a liberal activist, with a close relationship with the President and little experience in the courtroom. In turn, she denied that she would be beholden to the President, that the decision had nothing to do with personal loyalty or favour trading and was not afraid as an experienced politician (and failed actress) to spar with Republicans, refuting that her appearance on the Dating Game in 1978 somehow disqualified her as some publications hinted.

Senate Republicans decried the nomination, as the President creating a “rubber stamp court” according to Alabama Senator, Jeff Sessions and Conservative Commentators like David Frum shared the view that this was a “disaster for the court, this would nakedly politicize the court” and Robert Bork (himself a failed Supreme Court nominee) denounced the decision as a “disaster … a slap in the face to the neutrality of the court”.

The White House defended the nomination, particularly attacking some of the more inflammatory statements about her being a naturalized American (she was born in Canada with Swedish heritage) and pointed to her moderate legal record “Ms Granholm may govern as a Democrat, but her record is a moderate one” said Senator Tom Daschle who helmed the confirmation process, assuaging wavering Democrats “I agree that there is room for a new kind of face on the court”. A line of thinking that other Democrats stuck to. “You know we need to have the type of minds that think about laws, not just as an abstract but have put them and seen them put into action” said Senator Hillary Clinton.

The final vote again left Republicans divided, columnists and media figures like Fox Host Ann Coulter tore into it as an almost criminal offence, to appoint someone so close to the President to the court, a notion that quickly dragged the GOP’s prospective Presidential candidates like Senator George Allen and former Speaker Newt Gingrich to wade into the fray in opposition to the confirmation.

But the mood on the hill was different, following the depressing results in the midterms, Republican leadership was decapitated and the fissures exposed by departing Senate leader Bill Frist who said the voters had not returned to the party of Lincoln because they were tired of the scandals and overly partisan attacks “We focused too much on regaining the majority without letting the public know what we were going to do with it?” before he was replaced by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell who hoped to stabilize and soothe the parties frayed edges talked his caucus into back down from a judicial filibuster anxious that such a fight could only damage the parties stance among women, which many worried had been damaged over the failed filibuster of Chief Justice Sullivan and a veiled threat that Democrats might simply eliminate the judicial filibuster, or appoint a more openly liberal candidate. And though dozens of statements decried the decision, Governor Granholm was confirmed to the court 62-38.

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(Left to Right Governor Granholm is announced as the SCOTUS pick, Justice Granholm)
Edwards had already successfully passed some healthcare reforms in 2005, focused on reducing the cost of prescription drugs primarily for elderly Americans, by means of a bipartisan bill, but that was a different fight endorsed by influential lobbying groups in the afterglow of the President's inauguration, before Katrina and the anti-poverty agenda and before the 2006 midterms that left the President with even slimmer congressional margins.

The White House strategy focused on the goal of Universal Health Care while trying to tiptoe around the precise details of what the President’s plan would be, trying to learn from the breakdown of the Clinton Express in the 90s with a ‘public-facing’ media strategy, it meant getting endorsements from across country building national support for reform before heading to congress.

At first, the administration revelled, the concept of healthcare reform was not really debatable, and even conservative Republicans accepted that more needed to be done, “Of course, we want to see more Americans covered” said the new leader of the House Republican caucus John Boehner, “The question is whether this is an excuse for more unrestricted government spending”, and an ally Paul Ryan put the Republican reply to the strategy more forcefully “This is smoke and mirrors, the President makes big promises, with no plan to back them up, there is a severe lack of credibility from the White House here”.

However, Democrats like Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio cheered the strategy, “This President is a listener, he’s taking on all sorts of proposals, this is a bi-partisan strategy, a time to bring all ideas to the table.”

The media-centric strategy sketched out the reform plan backbone, mandatory employer coverage, coverage for pre-existing conditions and more money for R&D instead of stock buybacks, ideas applauded by a forum of bi-partisan governors, including Republican Governor Bloomberg and Governor Huffington who were each considering implementing more expansive healthcare plans on at the state level in New York and California.

Healthcare agenda was quickly becoming the most important domestic issue in America. “Health care is in the air” wrote New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, he said this was due to the slow but rising rate of uninsured Americans at 15.8%

But many became frustrated by the White House’s lack of specifics, “We needed a plan” said White House advisor David Axelrod “The public was supportive of reform in general, but we couldn’t get Congress without making those painful trade-offs, that we knew was going to deflate us somewhat”.

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(Top, Left to Right The Clinton 'Healthcare Express, Edwards speaks on healthcare)
(Bottom, Left to Right Republican Minority Leader Boehner, Senator Sherrod Brown and Governors Huffington and Bloomberg)

Despite the pervading battle over healthcare, there was another effort in Congress to find a separate compromise between the two parties, in the hope of cooling the political climate in Congress, they would attempt to regulate the climate through Congress.

Since the United States failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement regulating carbon emissions globally in the 90s, the task of regulating America's emissions had become a rising political issue, one left simmering by the Bush administration’s failure to pass an alternate plan despite campaign commitments, a non-decision that became a scandal as the Enron fiasco illuminated the administration's close ties to oil and energy lobbies.

“As long as we breathe, the United States will have a political clientele that will resist any attempt to be regulated” said Rick Piltz a government climate official, who lambasted the government's lack of attention to climate issues.

On the campaign trail, John Edwards had resisted a strong stance on climate change, he was not endorsed by environmental advocates in the primaries, where he was outshined by his Vice-President and more importantly, former Vice President Al Gore, who since his losing campaigns had transitioned into an environmental campaigner who began an intense lobbying effort to pressure the Edwards administration to take a stronger line, including through the release of the popular documentary ‘A Global Warning’ which some saw as a swipe against the man who foiled his comeback bid.

Indeed by 2007, a number of alarm bells were ringing demanding climate action, a U.N. report on scientists’ assessment of man-made climate change concluded that with 90% confidence human activities have been the main cause of warming since 1950. “The warning light is on,” said Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, “we need to take action” as he proposed what he hoped would prove a popular solution of his to the Senate.

Partnering with Republican Senator John Warner, he proposed a cap-and-trade scheme for carbon emissions, it was a true bi-partisan effort, resulting in a final bill The Climate Steward Act that ultimately left no one happy, environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club saw it as too business-friendly, while business communities like opposed it as far too harsh.

“Across the whole aisle,” said Senator Warner“we are concerned about the environment, but we’ve balanced that with our business communities so this can save and not kill jobs, this is a consensus bill”.

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(Left to Right Fmr Vice President Al Gore, Senators Warner and Lieberman, Cap and Trade Illustration)
The bill found its consensus, bridged primarily by Senator Lieberman and his friend and Presidential contender John McCain who each assuaged the moderate caucus, a move that was hailed as a genuine breakthrough. “This was tough politics for him, he’s running in a Republican Presidential Primary knowing this is going to piss off conservatives,” said Senator Lindsay Graham “That’s the maverick's agenda.”, as the Cap-And Trade bill was nervously gavelled through the tightly managed House chamber, it only stoked the fires of the Republican primary as McCain's main rival for the nomination former Vice-President Dick Cheney growled that such a scheme “Would cripple job creation and squeeze the average Americans income” backed by a chorus of Republican House members like Eric Cantor who called the decision the “greatest tax rise in history”. but the President signed the agreement as a “bold initiative to confront Americans energy challenge, without hurting working Americans”.

The passage of Lieberman-Warner received more muted praise from practically every group, as a “massive giveaway to industry” according to Greenpeace and a “threat to American businesses” by the energy lobby EIA.

Another small bi-partisan initiative was the decision to expand the number of House seats in Congress, albeit only by 2, granting a seat in Congress to the heavily Democratic District of Colombia and allotting staunchly conservative Utah an additional seat in a Red-Blue compromise. The decision was seen as a solution to the dilemma that the capital had no congressional representation, though legal scholars questioned the move as potentially unconstitutional. “Despite noble motivations, this is a legally fraught initiative,” said law professor Jon Turley, but still the move prompted special elections which confirmed that the capital's longtime non-voting delegate Eleanor Norton would become D.C.'s first ever-empowered representative.

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(Left to Right Utah 4th Representative Jason Chaffetz, D.C. Representative Eleanor Norton)

Despite these successes, the narrow division of the House and hardening opposition from Republicans as the Presidential candidates cropped up, meant that Edwards's main objective of the congressional session, a universally covering healthcare programme hit every speedbump and logjam it could. Several proposals floated around the miasma of Washington but none of them caught wind.

The President finalized the ‘public plan’ released in June and was as ambitious as it was expensive, expanding Medicaid and Medicare programmes to cover more people, a federally run health insurance programme to compete with private plans and most controversial of all a legal mandate for everyone to get health insurance.

“The time has come for a universal reform, that covers everyone, cuts costs and provides better healthcare,” said the President in a public forum with other legislators this time all Democrats. This included prominent backers like Illinois Barack Obama, former First Lady Senator Clinton, and the Lion of the Senate Ted Kennedy as they touted the plan as the solution to rising medical costs and premiums asking the county to get on board the Affordable Health Care for All-Plan or to the laymen Edwardscare.

It was a congressional battle that proved daunting, the prospect of a mandate for healthcare, was anathema to many and the White House public messaging began to conflict with one-on-one congressional meetings on Capitol Hill over just how expansive the project would be. “The air war, our speaking circuits, advertisements and dialogues with the American public was in conflict with these delicate talks, the ground war” recalled Senate leader Tom Daschle.

These appearances included late-night television interviews and even a visit to the children’s show Sesame Street to talk about child poverty, appearances that drew criticism as unbecoming and too overtly political but were designed to expose the faults of the current healthcare system and utilizing his own personal popularity and charm to sell his plan as the solution.

But the publicity tour also raised scrutiny of the President’s plan, the enormous cost was supposed to be offset by estimated future savings but conceded that a large hole in the deficit would be dug in the meantime, a breaking point for cost-conscious conservatives in both parties. Congressional Democrats felt abandoned by the President who some saw as using the issue more for his own political benefit. “It’s frustrating to ask the White House about this or that on these new insurance regulations, or specifics on enrolment on the federal plan only to hear ‘oh he’s on Conan tonight watch that’” according to an annoyed staffer.

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(Left to Right Senators Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, President Edwards visits Sesame Street)

At the same time, insurance companies took no prisoners, leading a counter-campaign helmed by former congressman Billy Tauzin who took out tens of millions of dollars worth of advertisements against the President’s plan, framing it as a government takeover of health care, and Republicans echoed sentiments of the coming ‘Edwardscare’ tax hike that riled up the base. One advertisement stated it simply “Under Edwardscare, get less, pay more,”.

Opposition to the President’s plan and specifically the mandate and public insurance plan was attacked as a “back door plan for socialized medicine” according to Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, “We don’t need the heavy hand of government burdening people with mandates”, and former Governor Pataki urged the President to confront other issues “People are more concerned about their mortgages than mandates?”

This time it was the Democrats who were infighting, the President publicly chastised insurance companies “This is a plan for the people, who I work for, not big insurance companies, big HMOs, we’re not afraid to take em on!” further antagonizing members of his party who were attempting to mediate a common ground between the two like Senator Ben Nelson of Montana who alongside other more moderate Democrats like Lieberman and Mary Landrieu began to side with Republicans against the plan, saying that those attacks were “A step too far, those statements are asking for trouble” and with no Senate Republicans in support, Edwardscare looked like a dead letter.

By August, the President and the White House had more or less, conceded defeat and begun to raise the white flag, marking his first major public defeat in office and providing the Republicans a win a kick in his public approval.

“This President wants to change the very fabric of America, that’s what his plan is, and we’ve stood up to him and said hell no!” said Senator Rick Santorum, at a campaign stop in Iowa.

But though there would be no vote, Edwards continued to cite the battle in public as evidence of his independence, as the White House Chief of Staff, Bob Shrum rephrased it as a noble defeat “The President is a fighter, that’s what got him elected, that’s why people like him, and this shows who’s really fighting for them”.

Behind doors the White House reworked their proposal, a scaled-down initiative as a backup plan, a bill that was designed to be as politically palpable as possible, the Kids-First Plan but in September even that got overshadowed by world events.

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(Left to Right Protester in Support of Edwardscare, President Edwards, Protester in Opposition to Edwardscare)
On the international front, the Edwards administration had developed what was looking more and more like a cohesive doctrine. Following the invasion of Darfur America in the 21st century would be the standard bearer for the Western world, and a sentinel for human rights and a guardian of the rules-based order.

Edwards travelled to coalition-occupied Darfur in 2007, where he would promote his foreign policy to the international press, meeting Darfuri children. Where he outlined his policy, that though America had been driven to war by the Turabi regime which had refused to grant basic human rights to its citizens. “The best way to secure a peaceful tomorrow is a free and prosperous today”. Arguing that the United States should more actively promote democracy abroad, to dull the threat of both antagonistic regimes and militant radicals, reducing American aid and reliance on ‘friendly tyrants’ unless they change their policies, and in line with his domestic anti-poverty agenda the United States should extend foreign aid and assistance to poorer nations and citizens.

This doctrine would be most clearly seen in Sudan, where the United States would support charitable and religious missions, and promote volunteerism in the country while a finalized peace agreement and a new constitution for Sudan were still being worked on. Programmes that Edwards said could work throughout all of Africa, Central America, the Middle East and elsewhere “There are 100 million children on this continent without any education or sanitation … America can and will lead the way here”.

This doctrine would of course focus primarily on America's strategic adversaries, renewed sanctions were placed on Myanmar and Zimbabwe for supposed failures to protect human rights and recent violent security crackdowns, actions that domestically showed Uncle Sam’s approval for opposition movements.

More forceful action was taken in Afghanistan, where more arms and equipment were being supplied to the Southern Alliance of anti-Taleban clans. The President of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad was referred to the international criminal court for the murder of Lebanese political opposition to the Syrian occupation and ongoing political violence in the country, leaving his regime more isolated internationally.

Concerning the Iranian nuclear programme following a report of continued centrifuge activity, and a declaration from President Ghalibaf that Iran would ‘fully harness its Nuclear potential’ with renewed international sanctions placed through the United Nations Security Council, and through the CIA the President agreed to a programme of covert ‘active measures’ to prevent a nuclear Iran.

But disrupting the President's global ambitions, was the quandary of Iraq. Embroiled in a bitter and expanding civil conflict, so far, the United States had been hesitant to involve itself directly opting to instead maintain no-fly zone operations in Iraq, but after the bloody spring and summer fighting America began to consider more direct steps to hopefully force Saddam Hussein from power at last.

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(Top to bottom, Left to Right President Edwards in Darfur, Myanmar protesters,
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Iranian President Ghalibaf, Iraqi Civil War fighter)

But even the possibility of more major military actions by the Edwards administration was sidelined by a spectacle that enraptured all …

CNN Breaking News ...
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But even the possibility of more major military actions by the Edwards administration was sidelined by a spectacle that enraptured all …
And the revelation of John Edwards' scandals, to put it mildly, will be doing him no favors soon. At all.
 
Considering the Iraqi Civil War and the assassination of the rulers of Egypt and Jordan, why do I have a feeling that 2007-2008 would be the era of the alt-Arab Spring?
 
Part LXXIV

Camelot Calling


View attachment 894533
Illustration of President Edwards
It was all smiles in the White House. It was hard not to smile in that pearly castle these days; the doubters had been skewered and the President vindicated both on the domestic and foreign fronts.

The Republican's failure to recapture the House or Senate in the 2006 midterms had left them in a state of flux, their strategy of opposition had been consistently overshadowed and undermined by a President who knew how to command the airwaves, harvest positive headlines and rally his party in support of his agenda. If the midterms had been a referendum on his tenure, it was a success unseen for an incumbent President since the halcyon days of the Kennedy Camelot, praise which was well received by the first family.

With his State of the Union address, in front of the Democrat-held House of Representatives, Senate and a liberal-leaning Supreme Court. The President used the gathering to double down on his ‘War on Poverty’ agenda with a bold, headline-grabbing commitment.



Pledging to tackle an issue that had haunted the Democratic administrations of yesteryear, dramatic healthcare reform.



He was pushing for bold and expansive reforms to be made to greatly expand American healthcare coverage.



Since the Roosevelt administration, reforming the American healthcare system was the holy grail of Democratic Presidents. Major rewards had been reaped, but so had major disasters. FDR’s efforts to create a universal healthcare system were thwarted in the 30s, Trumans died in the heat of the red scare, the party fractured during the Carter administration on the issue, and the last major reform initiative by Bill Clinton crashed and burned in 1993.

It seemed that any effort to unilaterally expand healthcare coverage, anywhere from a wholly nationalized European or Canadian-style system, to a private insurance model had each fallen, under a strong assault from reform opponents of many stripes.

Edwards's comments at the national address were designed to herald the opening foray of his administration’s new agenda item.

View attachment 894512
(Left to Right President Edwards, President Kennedy)
Outside the attention-stealing healthcare debate, other battles were fought on Capitol Hill, notably over the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Souter had reportedly been dissatisfied with his life on the court for some time and despite being one of the youngest members of the highest court in the land, still blessed with good health he had made no secret of his desire to exit the body calling it the “world’s best job, in the world’s worst city” and flee for the more pleasant pastures of his New Hampshire home.

Souter had been originally picked by George H W Bush and was expected to rule as a conservative, however, had since flipped into an alliance with the court liberals like John Paul Stephens, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice Kathleen Sullivan, becoming the heart of the court.

His departure set off another showdown between Democrats and Republicans as the White House spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri announced the retirement, and the beginning of the search for a replacement “someone who shares the President's respect for constitutional values, with an understanding of the law not just in theory but in practice”.

And, after a lengthy and media-pruned search, Edwards opted for an unconventional choice, when he tapped the serving Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm as his pick for the opening.

The two had been close politically, providing a critical endorsement in the 2004 primaries and she’d provided a powerful keynote speech at the convention, the two were so close-knit that in the Michigan press, she was referred to as the female Edwards, and she had quickly jumped onto the Presidents anti-poverty agenda in Michigan.

At the announcement, Granholm herself acknowledged she would not be a typical Justice. “Thank you, Mr President, for those gracious words … I was brought to this country from Canada and recognize that I do not hold the same credentials, but both Republicans and Democrats recognise that a diversity of views and backgrounds should be just as relevant in the Courts as it is in Congress.”

Granholm was an unusual pick in many regards, she held a sparse legal record (at least when compared to most Supreme Court justices) a graduate of Harvard Law School a clerk for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a prosecutor and Michigan attorney general. “This is certainly an impressive career, and by all records, there is no criticism of her tenure, but it may not stack up with the Supreme Court.” Said Charles Ogletree a law professor.

While historically Justices had held elected political office, it was clear that the White House was prepared for the political backlash that would come with the appointment of a Democratic politician to the traditionally apolitical bench.

“There are many examples of seasoned politicization’s on the high court, Earl Warren California governor, President Taft, as far back as John Marshall who shaped the court in its early years was a congressman,” said Vice President Kerry as he defended the choice on the Sunday talk shows. Arguing that the confirmation hearings should determine whether she was qualified to sit on the bench.

Said hearings played out and as expected Republicans laid as many lines of attack as they could on Granholm, that she was obviously going to be a liberal activist, with a close relationship with the President and little experience in the courtroom. In turn, she denied that she would be beholden to the President, that the decision had nothing to do with personal loyalty or favour trading and was not afraid as an experienced politician (and failed actress) to spar with Republicans, refuting that her appearance on the Dating Game in 1978 somehow disqualified her as some publications hinted.

Senate Republicans decried the nomination, as the President creating a “rubber stamp court” according to Alabama Senator, Jeff Sessions and Conservative Commentators like David Frum shared the view that this was a “disaster for the court, this would nakedly politicize the court” and Robert Bork (himself a failed Supreme Court nominee) denounced the decision as a “disaster … a slap in the face to the neutrality of the court”.

The White House defended the nomination, particularly attacking some of the more inflammatory statements about her being a naturalized American (she was born in Canada with Swedish heritage) and pointed to her moderate legal record “Ms Granholm may govern as a Democrat, but her record is a moderate one” said Senator Tom Daschle who helmed the confirmation process, assuaging wavering Democrats “I agree that there is room for a new kind of face on the court”. A line of thinking that other Democrats stuck to. “You know we need to have the type of minds that think about laws, not just as an abstract but have put them and seen them put into action” said Senator Hillary Clinton.

The final vote again left Republicans divided, columnists and media figures like Fox Host Ann Coulter tore into it as an almost criminal offence, to appoint someone so close to the President to the court, a notion that quickly dragged the GOP’s prospective Presidential candidates like Senator George Allen and former Speaker Newt Gingrich to wade into the fray in opposition to the confirmation.

But the mood on the hill was different, following the depressing results in the midterms, Republican leadership was decapitated and the fissures exposed by departing Senate leader Bill Frist who said the voters had not returned to the party of Lincoln because they were tired of the scandals and overly partisan attacks “We focused too much on regaining the majority without letting the public know what we were going to do with it?” before he was replaced by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell who hoped to stabilize and soothe the parties frayed edges talked his caucus into back down from a judicial filibuster anxious that such a fight could only damage the parties stance among women, which many worried had been damaged over the failed filibuster of Chief Justice Sullivan and a veiled threat that Democrats might simply eliminate the judicial filibuster, or appoint a more openly liberal candidate. And though dozens of statements decried the decision, Governor Granholm was confirmed to the court 62-38.

View attachment 894513
(Left to Right Governor Granholm is announced as the SCOTUS pick, Justice Granholm)
Edwards had already successfully passed some healthcare reforms in 2005, focused on reducing the cost of prescription drugs primarily for elderly Americans, by means of a bipartisan bill, but that was a different fight endorsed by influential lobbying groups in the afterglow of the President's inauguration, before Katrina and the anti-poverty agenda and before the 2006 midterms that left the President with even slimmer congressional margins.

The White House strategy focused on the goal of Universal Health Care while trying to tiptoe around the precise details of what the President’s plan would be, trying to learn from the breakdown of the Clinton Express in the 90s with a ‘public-facing’ media strategy, it meant getting endorsements from across country building national support for reform before heading to congress.

At first, the administration revelled, the concept of healthcare reform was not really debatable, and even conservative Republicans accepted that more needed to be done, “Of course, we want to see more Americans covered” said the new leader of the House Republican caucus John Boehner, “The question is whether this is an excuse for more unrestricted government spending”, and an ally Paul Ryan put the Republican reply to the strategy more forcefully “This is smoke and mirrors, the President makes big promises, with no plan to back them up, there is a severe lack of credibility from the White House here”.

However, Democrats like Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio cheered the strategy, “This President is a listener, he’s taking on all sorts of proposals, this is a bi-partisan strategy, a time to bring all ideas to the table.”

The media-centric strategy sketched out the reform plan backbone, mandatory employer coverage, coverage for pre-existing conditions and more money for R&D instead of stock buybacks, ideas applauded by a forum of bi-partisan governors, including Republican Governor Bloomberg and Governor Huffington who were each considering implementing more expansive healthcare plans on at the state level in New York and California.

Healthcare agenda was quickly becoming the most important domestic issue in America. “Health care is in the air” wrote New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, he said this was due to the slow but rising rate of uninsured Americans at 15.8%

But many became frustrated by the White House’s lack of specifics, “We needed a plan” said White House advisor David Axelrod “The public was supportive of reform in general, but we couldn’t get Congress without making those painful trade-offs, that we knew was going to deflate us somewhat”.

View attachment 894514
(Top, Left to Right The Clinton 'Healthcare Express, Edwards speaks on healthcare)
(Bottom, Left to Right Republican Minority Leader Boehner, Senator Sherrod Brown and Governors Huffington and Bloomberg)

Despite the pervading battle over healthcare, there was another effort in Congress to find a separate compromise between the two parties, in the hope of cooling the political climate in Congress, they would attempt to regulate the climate through Congress.

Since the United States failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement regulating carbon emissions globally in the 90s, the task of regulating America's emissions had become a rising political issue, one left simmering by the Bush administration’s failure to pass an alternate plan despite campaign commitments, a non-decision that became a scandal as the Enron fiasco illuminated the administration's close ties to oil and energy lobbies.

“As long as we breathe, the United States will have a political clientele that will resist any attempt to be regulated” said Rick Piltz a government climate official, who lambasted the government's lack of attention to climate issues.

On the campaign trail, John Edwards had resisted a strong stance on climate change, he was not endorsed by environmental advocates in the primaries, where he was outshined by his Vice-President and more importantly, former Vice President Al Gore, who since his losing campaigns had transitioned into an environmental campaigner who began an intense lobbying effort to pressure the Edwards administration to take a stronger line, including through the release of the popular documentary ‘A Global Warning’ which some saw as a swipe against the man who foiled his comeback bid.

Indeed by 2007, a number of alarm bells were ringing demanding climate action, a U.N. report on scientists’ assessment of man-made climate change concluded that with 90% confidence human activities have been the main cause of warming since 1950. “The warning light is on,” said Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, “we need to take action” as he proposed what he hoped would prove a popular solution of his to the Senate.

Partnering with Republican Senator John Warner, he proposed a cap-and-trade scheme for carbon emissions, it was a true bi-partisan effort, resulting in a final bill The Climate Steward Act that ultimately left no one happy, environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club saw it as too business-friendly, while business communities like opposed it as far too harsh.

“Across the whole aisle,” said Senator Warner“we are concerned about the environment, but we’ve balanced that with our business communities so this can save and not kill jobs, this is a consensus bill”.

View attachment 894515
(Left to Right Fmr Vice President Al Gore, Senators Warner and Lieberman, Cap and Trade Illustration)
The bill found its consensus, bridged primarily by Senator Lieberman and his friend and Presidential contender John McCain who each assuaged the moderate caucus, a move that was hailed as a genuine breakthrough. “This was tough politics for him, he’s running in a Republican Presidential Primary knowing this is going to piss off conservatives,” said Senator Lindsay Graham “That’s the maverick's agenda.”, as the Cap-And Trade bill was nervously gavelled through the tightly managed House chamber, it only stoked the fires of the Republican primary as McCain's main rival for the nomination former Vice-President Dick Cheney growled that such a scheme “Would cripple job creation and squeeze the average Americans income” backed by a chorus of Republican House members like Eric Cantor who called the decision the “greatest tax rise in history”. but the President signed the agreement as a “bold initiative to confront Americans energy challenge, without hurting working Americans”.

The passage of Lieberman-Warner received more muted praise from practically every group, as a “massive giveaway to industry” according to Greenpeace and a “threat to American businesses” by the energy lobby EIA.

Another small bi-partisan initiative was the decision to expand the number of House seats in Congress, albeit only by 2, granting a seat in Congress to the heavily Democratic District of Colombia and allotting staunchly conservative Utah an additional seat in a Red-Blue compromise. The decision was seen as a solution to the dilemma that the capital had no congressional representation, though legal scholars questioned the move as potentially unconstitutional. “Despite noble motivations, this is a legally fraught initiative,” said law professor Jon Turley, but still the move prompted special elections which confirmed that the capital's longtime non-voting delegate Eleanor Norton would become D.C.'s first ever-empowered representative.

View attachment 894516
(Left to Right Utah 4th Representative Jason Chaffetz, D.C. Representative Eleanor Norton)

Despite these successes, the narrow division of the House and hardening opposition from Republicans as the Presidential candidates cropped up, meant that Edwards's main objective of the congressional session, a universally covering healthcare programme hit every speedbump and logjam it could. Several proposals floated around the miasma of Washington but none of them caught wind.

The President finalized the ‘public plan’ released in June and was as ambitious as it was expensive, expanding Medicaid and Medicare programmes to cover more people, a federally run health insurance programme to compete with private plans and most controversial of all a legal mandate for everyone to get health insurance.

“The time has come for a universal reform, that covers everyone, cuts costs and provides better healthcare,” said the President in a public forum with other legislators this time all Democrats. This included prominent backers like Illinois Barack Obama, former First Lady Senator Clinton, and the Lion of the Senate Ted Kennedy as they touted the plan as the solution to rising medical costs and premiums asking the county to get on board the Affordable Health Care for All-Plan or to the laymen Edwardscare.

It was a congressional battle that proved daunting, the prospect of a mandate for healthcare, was anathema to many and the White House public messaging began to conflict with one-on-one congressional meetings on Capitol Hill over just how expansive the project would be. “The air war, our speaking circuits, advertisements and dialogues with the American public was in conflict with these delicate talks, the ground war” recalled Senate leader Tom Daschle.

These appearances included late-night television interviews and even a visit to the children’s show Sesame Street to talk about child poverty, appearances that drew criticism as unbecoming and too overtly political but were designed to expose the faults of the current healthcare system and utilizing his own personal popularity and charm to sell his plan as the solution.

But the publicity tour also raised scrutiny of the President’s plan, the enormous cost was supposed to be offset by estimated future savings but conceded that a large hole in the deficit would be dug in the meantime, a breaking point for cost-conscious conservatives in both parties. Congressional Democrats felt abandoned by the President who some saw as using the issue more for his own political benefit. “It’s frustrating to ask the White House about this or that on these new insurance regulations, or specifics on enrolment on the federal plan only to hear ‘oh he’s on Conan tonight watch that’” according to an annoyed staffer.

View attachment 894517
(Left to Right Senators Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, President Edwards visits Sesame Street)

At the same time, insurance companies took no prisoners, leading a counter-campaign helmed by former congressman Billy Tauzin who took out tens of millions of dollars worth of advertisements against the President’s plan, framing it as a government takeover of health care, and Republicans echoed sentiments of the coming ‘Edwardscare’ tax hike that riled up the base. One advertisement stated it simply “Under Edwardscare, get less, pay more,”.

Opposition to the President’s plan and specifically the mandate and public insurance plan was attacked as a “back door plan for socialized medicine” according to Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, “We don’t need the heavy hand of government burdening people with mandates”, and former Governor Pataki urged the President to confront other issues “People are more concerned about their mortgages than mandates?”

This time it was the Democrats who were infighting, the President publicly chastised insurance companies “This is a plan for the people, who I work for, not big insurance companies, big HMOs, we’re not afraid to take em on!” further antagonizing members of his party who were attempting to mediate a common ground between the two like Senator Ben Nelson of Montana who alongside other more moderate Democrats like Lieberman and Mary Landrieu began to side with Republicans against the plan, saying that those attacks were “A step too far, those statements are asking for trouble” and with no Senate Republicans in support, Edwardscare looked like a dead letter.

By August, the President and the White House had more or less, conceded defeat and begun to raise the white flag, marking his first major public defeat in office and providing the Republicans a win a kick in his public approval.

“This President wants to change the very fabric of America, that’s what his plan is, and we’ve stood up to him and said hell no!” said Senator Rick Santorum, at a campaign stop in Iowa.

But though there would be no vote, Edwards continued to cite the battle in public as evidence of his independence, as the White House Chief of Staff, Bob Shrum rephrased it as a noble defeat “The President is a fighter, that’s what got him elected, that’s why people like him, and this shows who’s really fighting for them”.

Behind doors the White House reworked their proposal, a scaled-down initiative as a backup plan, a bill that was designed to be as politically palpable as possible, the Kids-First Plan but in September even that got overshadowed by world events.

View attachment 894523
(Left to Right Protester in Support of Edwardscare, President Edwards, Protester in Opposition to Edwardscare)
On the international front, the Edwards administration had developed what was looking more and more like a cohesive doctrine. Following the invasion of Darfur America in the 21st century would be the standard bearer for the Western world, and a sentinel for human rights and a guardian of the rules-based order.

Edwards travelled to coalition-occupied Darfur in 2007, where he would promote his foreign policy to the international press, meeting Darfuri children. Where he outlined his policy, that though America had been driven to war by the Turabi regime which had refused to grant basic human rights to its citizens. “The best way to secure a peaceful tomorrow is a free and prosperous today”. Arguing that the United States should more actively promote democracy abroad, to dull the threat of both antagonistic regimes and militant radicals, reducing American aid and reliance on ‘friendly tyrants’ unless they change their policies, and in line with his domestic anti-poverty agenda the United States should extend foreign aid and assistance to poorer nations and citizens.

This doctrine would be most clearly seen in Sudan, where the United States would support charitable and religious missions, and promote volunteerism in the country while a finalized peace agreement and a new constitution for Sudan were still being worked on. Programmes that Edwards said could work throughout all of Africa, Central America, the Middle East and elsewhere “There are 100 million children on this continent without any education or sanitation … America can and will lead the way here”.

This doctrine would of course focus primarily on America's strategic adversaries, renewed sanctions were placed on Myanmar and Zimbabwe for supposed failures to protect human rights and recent violent security crackdowns, actions that domestically showed Uncle Sam’s approval for opposition movements.

More forceful action was taken in Afghanistan, where more arms and equipment were being supplied to the Southern Alliance of anti-Taleban clans. The President of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad was referred to the international criminal court for the murder of Lebanese political opposition to the Syrian occupation and ongoing political violence in the country, leaving his regime more isolated internationally.

Concerning the Iranian nuclear programme following a report of continued centrifuge activity, and a declaration from President Ghalibaf that Iran would ‘fully harness its Nuclear potential’ with renewed international sanctions placed through the United Nations Security Council, and through the CIA the President agreed to a programme of covert ‘active measures’ to prevent a nuclear Iran.

But disrupting the President's global ambitions, was the quandary of Iraq. Embroiled in a bitter and expanding civil conflict, so far, the United States had been hesitant to involve itself directly opting to instead maintain no-fly zone operations in Iraq, but after the bloody spring and summer fighting America began to consider more direct steps to hopefully force Saddam Hussein from power at last.

View attachment 894519
(Top to bottom, Left to Right President Edwards in Darfur, Myanmar protesters,
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Iranian President Ghalibaf, Iraqi Civil War fighter)

But even the possibility of more major military actions by the Edwards administration was sidelined by a spectacle that enraptured all …
Uh oh, are we gonna get TTL's Columbia disaster? Looks like things are starting to go south for Edwards, he's joined a long list of Democratic presidents who tried and failed to reform the healthcare system. And of course there's still the question of the housing market and looming recession.

Interesting to see HR 78 get passed, although I have a feeling that giving DC's delegate full voting powers without making it a state could be somewhat constitutionally murky. One thing to note, the extra seat for Utah would only have lasted until the 2010 census, although given that IOTL they got a 4th seat after reapportionment that year the only change would be getting it earlier.

Good that even though the US isn't joining Kyoto (the Senate would have zero chance of ratifying it) we get cap-and-trade passed. I imagine this will accelerate the decline of Democratic strength in Appalachia and other fossil fuel-dependent areas.

Granholm for Supreme Court seems strange, I realize that she has experience as an attorney but at first glance at least it seems like unnecessary expending of political capital: her nomination would be seen as nakedly partisan and Edwards could just as easily pick a judge with similar views without being vulnerable to such attacks.

One nitpick: I don't see Cheney running for president in 2008. He had a long history of cardiovascular disease and consistently ruled himself out as a 2008 contender throughout his vice presidency. Even putting his health problems aside, this article suggests he had zero interest in running.

Can't wait to see how Edwards handles the situations in Iraq and especially Darfur. An update on the peace process/constitutional convention in Sudan would be great, it's really a make-or-break moment for them.
 
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One nitpick: I don't see Cheney running for president in 2008. He had a long history of cardiovascular disease and consistently ruled himself out as a 2008 contender throughout his vice presidency. Even putting his health problems aside, this article suggests he had zero interest in running.
To be honest, I've always felt Cheney's decline at running for the nomination came from the Bush Administration just generally being seen as poisonus in it's second term -- here, that kind of thing doesn't exist, so it makes sense he'd make a go for it. Cheney has always had an itch.

Edwards travelled to coalition-occupied Darfur in 2007, where he would promote his foreign policy to the international press, meeting Darfuri children. Where he outlined his policy, that though America had been driven to war by the Turabi regime which had refused to grant basic human rights to its citizens. “The best way to secure a peaceful tomorrow is a free and prosperous today”. Arguing that the United States should more actively promote democracy abroad, to dull the threat of both antagonistic regimes and militant radicals, reducing American aid and reliance on ‘friendly tyrants’ unless they change their policies, and in line with his domestic anti-poverty agenda the United States should extend foreign aid and assistance to poorer nations and citizens.
US Forces are still in Darfur, eh? Hm. Wonder how that will turn out ...
 
To be honest, I've always felt Cheney's decline at running for the nomination came from the Bush Administration just generally being seen as poisonus in it's second term -- here, that kind of thing doesn't exist, so it makes sense he'd make a go for it. Cheney has always had an itch.
Has he? The article I linked is from March 2005, when a majority of Americans still approved of Bush. Even with the Bush Administration being less politically toxic than OTL I just get the impression he wasn't particularly interested.
 
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