This is the Edwards I’ve been waiting to see. It’s a good move on his part.

From Ida Grove to Pocahontas, from Onawa to Osage, Mr. Edwards, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, led a 7-day, 31-stop barnstorming tour of rural Iowa this week billed as the “Fighting for One America” tour — and fighting was an apt choice of words.

At each stop, he let out the same battle cry: a populist attack on big oil, big pharmaceutical companies, big insurance companies and corporate lobbyists in Washington. These he described as being “powerful insiders” that had “rigged the system” against the ordinary working man, leaving him poorer, degrading the environment and blocking access to affordable health care.

At the end of the day, passion is what’s going to resonate with voters; not Obama’s vague platitudes about optimism or Clinton’s nonsense about corporate lobbyists representing real Americans. A lot of people are very angry for the right reasons and they’re looking for a candidate who shares their righteous indignation.

The one risk that comes out of this is that what happened to Howard Dean will happen to Edwards – namely, the press will sink him by portraying him as angry, “abrasive,” etc.

“There’s a fine line between passion and anger,” said David P. Redlawsk, an associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa and director of the university’s political poll. “It’s too early to tell which side of the line he is straddling. If he seems to be purely angry all the time, it will fail. People are not interested in a guy who is always angry.”

In the modern terminology of the campaign press, anger, even totally justified anger, is automatically a bad thing. That’s what makes this such a big risk, and it’s yet another reason why Edwards should be applauded. He could have easily clung to his safe 2004 persona as a smooth, inoffensive ken doll – but that’s a cynical thing to do when you’re running on real issues. The basis of Edwards’ platform is poverty, and there’s plenty to be furious about there. I would doubt his sincerity if he weren’t.


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