AMES, IA—In an effort to jump-start a presidential campaign that still has not broken into the top Democratic tier, former Sen. John Edwards made his most ambitious policy announcement yet at a campaign event in Iowa Monday: a promise to eliminate all unpleasant, disagreeable, or otherwise bad things from all aspects of American life by the end of his second year in office.
"Many bad things are not just bad—they're terrible," said a beaming Edwards, whose "Only the Good Things" proposal builds upon previous efforts to end poverty, outlaw startlingly loud noises, and offer tax breaks to those who smile frequently. "Other candidates have plans that would reduce some of the bad things, but I want all of them gone completely."
According to Edwards, his plan is composed of three steps. Everyday bad things, such as curse words and splinters, would be eradicated during his first six months in office. Next, very bad things, including child abduction, soil erosion, and resurgent diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, would be ended by the the end of 2009. Finally, extremely bad things—plights such as genocide, species extinction, and virtually every form of cancer—would take a full two years to wipe out.
"Racism will soon be a thing of the past," Edwards said. "Same goes for being picked last for playground athletics, AIDS, robbery, not having enough spending money, and murder. Because these things are bad and not good, I promise they will be eliminated."
Other bad things the 2004 vice-presidential nominee vowed to end include the housing crisis, skinned knees, frowns, steep staircases, jailbreaks, water that is too cold to swim in, pain, traffic, being tired in the morning, sprained ankles, hunger, not having enough energy at night, teen pregnancy, cases of the blahs, thunder, the high cost of admission to events, type 2 diabetes, games of tic-tac-toe with no clear winner, the lack of parking in urban areas, forgetting birthdays, child prostitution, and confusion.
"Imagine a world free of procrastination, class disparity, and itchiness," Edwards said. "It will only be possible if we try."
Edwards told the gathered audience that the second half of his presidential term would be devoted to a $125 billion effort to supplant the abolished bad things with good things, such as flowers, the laughter of children, butterflies, sunny days, financial stability, Skittles, and medicine.
Though some Democrats are applauding the positivity of Edwards' pro-good agenda, critics say that the wealthy former trial lawyer is, at best, paying lip service to the issue.
"This is certainly a step in the right direction, but it's not enough," Daily Kos contributor BitchingPoints wrote hours after Edwards' announcement. "Where in Mr. Edwards' list of bad things does it mention poisonous snakes, nasty red wine stains on rugs, trolls, and noisy neighbors? Edwards has left the door wide open for a rival candidate to outflank him on his own issue by introducing a comprehensive plan that fills these gaping holes."
Republican front-runner Rudolph Giuliani attacked Edwards Tuesday for labeling things as bad when they may actually turn out to be good in the long run.
"Is 'shooting' always a bad thing?" Giuliani said. "I think such a position would undercut not only our soldiers in Iraq, but also law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day, not to mention our basic Second Amendment rights."
Added Giuliani: "On a personal note, I rather like cloudy days, and I don't want to live in a world where they don't exist."