I realize I'm pretty far from the norm on this one, but for the life of me I can't figure out why people are crediting John Edwards as a serious player after his performance last night. What I saw was a well-rehearsed lawyer out of his controlled element whose substance started and ended with soundbites that could have been uttered by Huey Long. So the real enemies are Big Insurance and Big Pharmaceutical? (Ed., anything but Big Government.) Frankly, I saw little evidence that Senator Edwards could think on his feet as he had to keep falling back on his memorized talking points. Some call this staying on message, but that may be nothing more than convenient spin to polish the proverbial turd. Name one ad hoc comment you think Senator Edwards made last night that would display his spontaneous wit or the fact that he was even paying close attention to what was being said outside the voices in his head. His inability to follow Gwen Ifill's simple instructions to not mention Senator Kerry's name in his well-rehearsed response belies his ability to craft a response in real time, IMHO.
Personally, I believe half the bloggers listed in Instapundit's list of Pure Bloggers could whip Senator Edwards in a true debate of the facts on the ground and the strategies needed to win the War on Terrorism. But I also realize that none of the bloggers listed in Instapundit's list of Pure Bloggers are ever going to be in a position to run for vice president, much less debate Senator Edwards. Furthermore, after Senators Kerry and Edward lose this election, what is Senator Edwards going to do? Little John is being hyped as a future star on the Democratic ticket, but what better answer to "What qualifies you to be vice president?" is he going to have four years or eight years hence?
The willingness of so many to project their hopes and beliefs onto a pretty face is a profoundly troubling thought to me. And I'm talking about the supposedly well educated and well informed "elites" here as much as the great unwashed masses. Chris Kanis gives me something of a back-handed compliment over on his site for a related observation. Of course, I know that I'm not the target audience for either speaker in the debate, or the entire campaign for that matter, but I won't fall into the trap of perception being reality. The fact that there are polls indicating that some poorly informed or willfully deceptive people think Edwards won the debate doesn't change or invalidate my better informed perception of reality that Senator Edwards was terribly weak and dissembling when it came to the facts on the ground and the conclusions to draw from those facts.
What the hell is wrong with people?