Someone asked me the other night if I thought John Edwards would make a difference in the election. After thinking about it for two seconds, I was forced to admit that I had no idea. The truth is that I have difficulty paying attention to the election until the World Series is over.
I realize I’ll probably have my press card revoked for telling you this, but I even have difficulty remembering which color - red or blue - is assigned to which party.
Then there are the polls. There are so many of them that each day brings a fresh account of what fewer than 1,200 people think about President Bush and Sen. John Kerry. I don’t read poll results for the same reason I barely pay attention to the campaign until October: Politics - especially at a national level - is boring, nasty, petty and predictable.
Last week, 24 hours after Kerry selected Edwards to be his running mate, Bush was asked what he thought about the North Carolina senator, and his snippy response was: “Dick Cheney can be President.”
Hey, maybe Bush is overtired. After all, he gets blamed for everything and has a vice president who reminds a lot of people of the kind of sour guy who gets a kick out of refusing mortgage applications or turning thumbs down on college admission hopes.
Maybe his crack just popped out as a quick, thoughtless aside, but it lacked grace and was kind of stupid. Don’t misunderstand: Democrats say dumb and ignorant things about both Bush and Vice President Cheney, and I don’t figure Edwards burst into tears when he heard the President’s assessment.
So maybe polls indicate that a Republican strength is Cheney’s experience and Edwards’ lack of it. Yet that experience has us mired down in Iraq. Cheney and Bush can talk all they want about how history will view their effort, but November will arrive before the war-on-terror chapter is complete.
Perhaps Bush is honked off because he is loyal but realizes he’s saddled with a smug, cranky, isolated, unappealing guy who knows a lot about power and little about people. He can’t dump him, and it’s too late to rehab him.
That gets us back to Edwards and how he might stack up. All I know is what I’ve seen whenever Edwards speaks: Ordinary people sitting, listening, nodding their heads in agreement. Not because of the predictable, political promises to end war, improve education, create jobs, reinvent health care and blah-blah-blah. People nod because Edwards appears as an equal, a wounded man who understands how life can sometimes scar the soul. He wears his pain in his eyes. He lost his boy to a car accident at age 16, and who among us hasn’t suffered some hurt along the road?
I understand that people vote for the top of the ticket and not because of a vice president. But Edwards has something going for him that is missing in the other three guys: When he tells people he knows what it’s like “to live the life you live every single day,” he’s not kidding.