The James Brown

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa—There’s a classic stunt James Brown used to pull at the end of his shows. After playing his last song, handlers would come out, throw a shawl over his shoulders, and hustle him off stage, as if to say, C ome on James, the show’s over . But just as he reached the edge of the stage, he would toss off the blanket, run back out and start dancing again. The crowd devoured it.

John Edwards has perfected a political version of the James Brown. At the end of an event in Fairfield, Iowa, Edwards told the audience, “They told me not to take questions”—”they” apparently being his killjoy campaign staff—”but I’m gonna do it anyway.” Grateful applause ensues. Same thing at the end of a Q&A session here in Mount Pleasant. An aide cut in, “Senator—” “We have time for one more,” Edwards cheerfully interrupted. He even tried it during impromptu availability aboard the press bus, while delivering coffee to baggy-eyed reporters. “It’s time to go,” said an aide, to which Edwards responded, “No, let’s do this now.”

It’s one of the oldest tricks around, but somehow it never fails to delight. And with zero hour approaching, it never hurts to throw off the cape and dance for one more minute.