When the reliable Des Moines Register poll two weeks ago showed former vice presidential candidate John Edwards leading in Iowa with 36 percent, people were surprised.
How did he do that in a year when it has been Hillary and Everyone Else, then Hillary, Obama and Everyone Else? Quietly, very quietly, which is the best way for a Democratic has-been to have any hope of becoming a could-be.
Democrats hate their losers. Unlike Republicans who routinely give theirs a second chance (see Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole), Democrats would remove all memory of theirs if they could, like latter-day Kremlinologists. (See George McGovern, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, though the last doesn't know he is over.)
Al Gore may be the exception. Having taken on many lives -- college professor, itinerant preacher on global warming, Wall Street banker and potential Oscar-winning filmmaker -- there are some Democrats asking him to run. Edwards may have telescoped Gore's six years in exile into two as he emerged from his own Elba to announce his candidacy today in New Orleans.
Having moved out of Georgetown in Washington to his native North Carolina -- where he built a new house, took care of his wife who learned in the final week of the campaign that she had cancer, joined an investment-banking firm and tended to the family foundation established in memory of son Wade Edwards, who was killed in a 1996 car accident at age 16 -- John Edwards has shed his inside-the-Beltway skin for that most desirable of guises: the Washington outsider.
Read the whole column here.