Kathleen Parker

Some days nothing goes right. John Edwards had one of those days the last week of 2006 when he announced his candidacy for president -- and hardly anyone noticed.

On the other hand, who didn't already know? Edwards -- who, if I'm not mistaken, is the son of a millworker -- hasn't stopped running for president since he started four years ago.

He paused briefly to run for vice president in 2004, when John Kerry dragged him off the dance floor and made him his main squeeze. But no sooner did they lose than Edwards began running again.

Like Forrest Gump, he can't seem to stop.

Edwards staked out the last week of the year for his kettledrum run at history, which is traditionally a slow news week when the media are bereft of stories to report. Luck apparently didn't get the memo.

The slowest week of the year suddenly became one of the busiest, thanks to that party pooper and thunder thief, Mr. Grim himself. As Edwards talked to a camera and a few reporters, America's eyes were riveted on the Reaper.

First he came for James Brown.

Then Gerald Ford.

Then Saddam Hussein.

The singer, the president and the tyrant robbed John Edwards of his moment. He was the tree that fell in a forest to the sound of one hand clapping.

Poor John Edwards.

No one, Republican or Democrat, has worked harder on his resume or more carefully calculated the timing of his announcement than Edwards, who, by the way, may be the son of a millworker. Could just be a rumor.

Nearly every time we've seen Edwards in the past year, he's been dripping with sweat from raising roof beams and digging out muck in New Orleans, where he and a corps of volunteer youths have been rebuilding the city that George Bush ignored.

It was from New Orleans -- specifically the Katrina-ravaged Ninth Ward -- that Edwards, looking lean in jeans and blue shirt, made his announcement. A simple, Everyman affair, there were no bands or flags, no pennants or patriotic paraphernalia.

Just the raw facts cast against the dreary background of a storm-ravaged house under repair.

In case this isn't perfectly clear, Edwards isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Even though a mega-millionaire, he still identifies with the downtrodden and underprivileged. Because -- I think I'm right here -- he's the son of a millworker.

Not only has Edwards been toiling in the fetid muck of Katrina's aftermath, he's been scouring the planet for the meek and disenfranchised. He established a poverty institute at the University of North Carolina and has visited several of Earth's most ravaged nations. He also has apologized countless times for voting to invade Iraq.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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