The Joy of Campaigning

Over the past 24 hours, John Edwards’ stump speech has shrunk. At yesterday’s tour kickoff in Ames, Iowa, he spoke for a good half hour about the Iraq war, health care, jobs, and immigration. This morning, in the town of Ottumwa, he spoke to a roomful of supporters for all of 80 seconds: “Elizabeth and I take this personally . … I will fight for you. … corporate greed … need guts … my father … knock on doors … caucus on Thursday.” By the time he wraps up the tour this evening, he will have honed his speech to one word: “Caucus!”

You can see why he’d want to tighten his language: This process is hellish. Having to say the exact same thing 15 times a day as if it were the first time – it’s hard to imagine why people don’t drop out after the first day. There has to be a canto somewhere in Inferno describing the ghoulish fate of the presidential candidate, condemned to recite the same lines, smile till his face stings, and clasp clammy hands every day, knowing all the while that he may have to do it all over again in four years.