John Edwards's Gamble

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post reports that "The 2004 vice presidential nominee, the guy with the dad in the mill who gave the most remembered stump speech of the Democratic primary campaign, will rejoin the debate with a new speech in New Hampshire on the first weekend in February."

While it has been known for quite some time that Edwards would be speaking at the 100 club, Dionne points out that this is where Edwards "intends to pick up where he left off in that "two Americas" discourse of his."

"It needs to be clear to the country what our core beliefs are, and the last thing we need is strategic maneuvering," Edwards said. "What people want to see is leadership and strength and conviction. This is about what's inside us. It's not about how we get to the right place."

"It's true, of course, that rejecting political calculation can itself be a form of political calculation. Conviction politics was a big winner for Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Even President Bush's critics concede -- well, they don't concede anything these days, but they might grudgingly admit -- that Bush's core political edge is just that, the appearance of strength and of standing for something."

"But conviction politics has not been in vogue in progressive circles. This era's two great center-left politicians, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, have been resolute Third Wayers, tacking carefully between left and right. The Third Way was a tacit admission of conservatism's momentum...Edwards is well positioned to offer Third Way 3.0. He's a young southerner, a working-class kid made good whose dad was a deacon in his church."