One Democrat Stands Above the Rest

I watched the Iowa Democratic presidential debate two weeks ago, and I was especially impressed by two candidates. No, not those two candidates. (I'm appalled that the mainstream media is already reporting this as a two-horse race, and that fundraising matters so much over issues.)

One of the candidates I was impressed by doesn't have a snowball's chance, but I'm glad he's in the race, and getting his views heard.

The other candidate that impressed me should be the Democratic nominee, if Democrats want to take back the White House. A former president finds this candidate exceptionally qualified:
"I can say without equivocation that no one who is running for president has presented anywhere near as comprehensive and accurate a prediction of what our country ought to do in the field of environmental quality, in the field of health care for those who are not presently insured, for those who struggle with poverty."
Paul Krugman writes, as a party the Democrats have substance in spades, but one candidate, the same candidate I found so impressive in Iowa, stands above the rest:
The entire G.O.P. field fails the substance test.

There is, by contrast, a lot of substance on the Democratic side, with John Edwards forcing the pace. Most notably, in February, Mr. Edwards transformed the whole health care debate with a plan that offers a politically and fiscally plausible path to universal health insurance.

Whatever the fate of the Edwards candidacy, Mr. Edwards will deserve a lot of the credit if and when we do get universal care in this country.

Mr. Edwards has also offered a detailed, sensible plan for tax reform, and some serious antipoverty initiatives.

Four months after the Edwards health care plan was announced, Barack Obama followed with a broadly similar but somewhat less comprehensive plan. Like Mr. Edwards, Mr. Obama has also announced a serious plan to fight poverty.

Hillary Clinton, however, has been evasive. She conveys the impression that there's not much difference between her policy positions and those of the other candidates -- but she's offered few specifics. In particular, unlike Mr. Edwards or Mr. Obama, she hasn't announced a specific universal care plan, or explicitly committed herself to paying for health reform by letting some of the Bush tax cuts expire.

For those who believe that the time for universal care has come, this lack of specifics is disturbing. In fact, what Mrs. Clinton said about health care in February's Democratic debate suggested a notable lack of urgency: "Well, I want to have universal health care coverage by the end of my second term."
If you missed the Iowa debate, or haven't heard Edwards lately, check out this excerpt: