I think that Lenin is right to suggest that John Edwards “is pure Hollywood.” And I very much fear that Julianne is right to say that “the way [Obama] poses his populist ‘you did this, I am a conduit’ stance has YouTube generation written all over it – he makes everyone feel like a star.” It’s new media versus old media: that’s why Edwards’ campaign is floundering, while Obama’s is surging. (And the less said about Clinton the better: her husband is pure television, which positions him media-wise in between Edwards and Obama; but no media are capable of putting her across).
In other words: class struggle, which Edwards at least rhetorically appeals to, is an old-fashioned Hollywood “grand narrative”; it’s corny and old-fashioned, and nobody younger than a graying Boomer like myself could possibly believe in it any longer. Mr. Edwards Goes to Washington, indeed. Obama, on the other hand, makes everybody (or at least everybody who is young, or young at heart) feel good; he gives his fans “hope”, i.e. the possibility of feeling empowered, or “a star”; and he exalts “change,” all the while making sure that nothing actually will be changed. (If you are white and you vote for Obama, not only have you demonstrated that you yourself aren’t racist, you have made racism itself magically disappear).
My only consolation for this is that, of course, if Edwards were somehow elected, in the sort of thrilling turnaround that Hollywood hasn’t been able to pull off convincingly for years, he would prove to be thoroughly disappointing, since he wouldn’t really fight the power the way he claims, on the campaign trail, to want to.