The Democratic Social Scene
In describing Thursday's debate, Slate's Saletan mentions that
"I think I speak for many people in the press corps when I say we've been trying harder to get you nominated than you have."
And on the face of it, the media's desire for a serious horse race DOES seem more enthusiastic than Edwards' attempts at winning this race. Which would make sense. One can see the youthful but appealing Senator making a few calculations in '03 along the lines of "we can't beat Bush regardless, but I'll be a damn good candidate in '08 when the Democratic Party has a better shot", and using this primary as a test run, a way to get his name well known in order that he is taken more seriously in the '08 primary. All Edwards would have to do is be an articulate and well-positioned, but somewhat green, candidate. He'd lose, but lose well, and both the media and the Party would love him for it, and he would have established some critical grassroots and fundraising networks.
Next thing you know though, all the other serious candidates have dropped out, and suddenly Edwards is the one last bastion against a Kerry cakewalk. Some might be tempted to take this shot and do whatever is possible to tear down a Kerry nomination, for only a vague hope of a March 2 flood. And if he were an idealistic protest candidate like Bradley or Dean, then sure; but he's not. Edwards knows he has time, and his sunny and stable image is more important than a futile hope at defeating Kerry, for a (somewhat less these days) futile hope at defeating Bush '04. Edwards can't just drop out, that would be rude to his supporters and a shot this for a bit of a farce, but he really has no intention of doing what needs to be done to win this battle.
Which can only lead to one analogy. All the Democratic guys decide to go to the frat party, knowing their friend John Kerry is going to booze it up and have a blast. The rest all promise to stay sober and be the designated drivers for Kerry and make sure they can have a non-drunken fun time. Except then 11pm rolls around, and Wesley, Dick, Howard, and Bob and sneaking out the door, and Edwards is like "Guuuuys, we were all gonna do this together," and Howard responds "Yeah, I was really psyched, but I just remembered I've got this shit to do tomorrow and I gotta - whoa, there's my ride."
So Edwards is sitting there nursing his non-alcoholic beer while Kerry's all over the place. "Hey thera, Missssss Iowa, you looking pretty fine tonight. Whoooaaa!"
And isn't that the best image ever?