It looks like John Edwards is primed to reap the greatest bump from Tuesday's debate, but let me voice my emphatic worry about his recent opt-in to the public finance system.
We've been here before, with John Kerry in August 2004, when the verb "to swiftboat" was coined. Admittedly, Kerry opted to remain aloof, go windsurfing, and take the punches rather than punching back. We'll never know whether taking the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth to the mat that month would have changed the outcome of the election.
I don't think Edwards would be so lazy about such an attack. And I don't think he - or Elizabeth - would take anything dished out without heaping scorn right back. We've seen it throughout the campaign.
With Obama's barely-there performance, I can only conclude that he's folding his tent, and as I evaluate the other candidates, Edwards seems like an easier and easier choice. I've kicked around the idea of voting for Kucinich in the primaries as a protest, but the truth is I'd like to do more than protest. I'd like to shape the process, and I think Edwards may well end up the guy I vote for in a few months.
And, to address Kevin Drum's recent comments about the Democratic fetish with nominating southerners, it isn't because he's a southerner (though the drawl has its own folksy appeal). It's because he scraps really well, and if there's anything I know to be true about politics in America today, it's that it's fought with both brains and knuckles. Edwards has both. Hell, Edwards' wife has both. He just might be the guy.