Sure, Bob Shrum's book is doubtless tendentious and self-serving, but Michael Crowley's excerpts only confirm my abiding distaste for John Edwards, and my abiding mystification at his appeal. I understand that he's made himself over as the standard-bearer for smart lefty ideas of the sort that haven't had many standard-bearers of late, and I suppose that if a Republican candidate went around calling himself the Sam's Club candidate and talking up policies I favor I'd be willing to overlook a lot . But even so, every time I hear him speak I feel like I'm drowning in a sea of smarm - and I don't care whether he told John Kerry about crawling up on the slab with his dead son and vowing to make a difference in the world once, twice, or fifty times; the fact that he would tell the story at all creeps me out. (Particularly since it's of a piece with this bit of repellent mummery.)

But then again, I was also somewhat put off by his decision to stay in the race in spite of his wife's cancer, and the American public decidedly disagrees with me on that score - so maybe my Edwards-hating just shows how out of touch I am. Also, I should note that everyone I've known who's worked on his campaigns says he's the nicest boss imaginable. So maybe it's just a sign of the weird power that Barack Obama exerts over impressionable minds that I can't fathom why any anti-Hillary liberal would opt for Edwards over him.

Update: Speaking of Obama's appeal ...