John Edwards says trial lawyers give him money to "stand up for democracy, for the right to jury trial, for the right for ?little people to be heard in the courtroom." It has nothing to do with, say, jury awards, of course. And while detainee policy has prompted a new debate about jury trials, I don't think that's what Edwards meant, and basically the right to be heard in the courtroom is not really under assault otherwise.

Another small-but-annoying Edwards moment: "I don't think it's for me to tell ?anybody, and particularly not African Americans, what they should? consider when they're voting. I think they ought to be able to? consider anything that they think is fair and reasonable and important? to them." Well, yeah, except that Edwards is always telling voters stuff like,

"If you're running in a tough congressional district…you gotta ask yourself would you rather have Senator Obama at the top of the ticket to help, Senator Clinton at the top of the ticket to help, or John Edwards at the top of the ticket to help... [Y]our instincts will tell you the right answer."

Reminds me of Edwards's absurd claim in the last debate about his "greatest weakness": "I sometimes have a powerful emotional response to pain I see around me.”? That'd be the Straight Talk Express Local, I guess.

Meanwhile, a friend wonders why Edwards suddenly piled on Obama tonight--on health care and his "present votes" in Illinois--so soon after famously teaming up with Obama versus Hillary in New Hampshire. Frankly, I'm not sure. (Although I think Obama zapped Edwards first over for supporting permanent normal trade relations with China). Perhaps Edwards has become a barometer of which opponent is weakest: In New Hampshire he saw a chance to help knock out Hillary and create a two-man race with Obama. Now maybe he sees Obama near a precipice (losing South Carolina would be pretty disastrous) and wants to push him over it.

--Michael Crowley