Following last night’s snoozer of a debate, it’s at least nice to see some equity in who the Republicans choose to bash. The entire Democratic field appears to be the target of the day for the Right-Wing punditry. However, only one popular target appears to get it the worst, and that seems to be the fair one with the golden locks from North Carolina.

Obama and Clinton get their fair share of criticism, but neither seem to agitate the chattering classes on the Right more than John Edwards. While Senator Clinton was asked to defend her war vote, Edwards was asked to defend the now infamous $400 haircut. The Politico’s Ben Smith earned his Matt Drudge Merit Badge in Hackery on the story, and Edwards had an answer for it last night:

It was simply a mistake. But if the question is, Brian, whether I live a privileged and blessed lifestyle now, the answer to that’s yes. A lot of us do. But it’s not where I come from. And I’ve not forgotten where I come from.

Many people in the audience and the viewing audience know that my dad worked in textile mills all his life, and I can remember vividly — my dad is here tonight. I was born here in South Carolina. I can remember vividly my dad after church once Sunday, when I was about 10 years old, taking us — it’s our whole family — into a restaurant. I was dressed up.

I was very proud to be there, and we sat, got our menus, looked at the menus, and the waitress came over and my father said, “I’m sorry, we have to leave.” I didn’t understand. “Why? Why do we have to leave?” And I was embarrassed. I found out when we got outside the reason we had to leave is he couldn’t pay the prices that were on the menu.

The reason I’m running for president of the United States is so that everybody in this country can have the same kind of chances I’ve had.

How this tale must’ve made blood boil on the starboard side of the spectrum. Perhaps what bothers conservatives the most is that the story is absolutely true. Not only was Edwards raised by two working class parents, but he himself got a BA in textile technology from NC State. Maybe it bothers them that Edwards actually represents the Horatio Alger, rags-to-riches story they love to tell, but so rarely work for themselves.

But I believe it goes even deeper. Haircuts aside, there’s clearly something about John Edwards that bugs the heck out of Republicans. On today’s Hugh Hewitt Blog, Dean Barnett attacked Edwards’s background, along with his vocabulary. They’ve gone after the former senator’s large estate in North Carolina, ripped into him for being a trial lawyer and even went so far as to pick apart a botched line during a press conference to discuss his wife’s bout with cancer. Maybe it’s his positioning as the scrappy upstart with the golden locks. Maybe it’s his unique position as the repentant populist, publicly apologizing for a bad war he gave his blessing to.

They don’t like the fact that a man who has lived in both Americas is willing to talk about it. They don’t like that a successful, southern lawyer from a blue-collar family has taken up company with the working poor of this country. If only he’d embrace his wealth the way Romney the venture-capitalist did, only then might he catch a break from his conservative critics. He might even make a nice Republican.

But now the boy who couldn’t eat in the fancy restaurant can pay whatever he damn well pleases for his haircuts. And if he has his way, all hard working Americans will be able to tell the same story.

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