He's an excellent speaker. He can stay on message and express complex messages in simple terms. He has more populist cred than anybody on the national scene. Bread-and-butter issues are his bread and butter. I imagine him following Bush from city to city, stalking the handpicked-crowd Social Security Privatization tour, drawing bigger audiences and turning every Bush appearance into a disaster for the privateers. But instead he's bumming around Chapel Hill, listening to small-time indie bands and running through the menu of Ye Olde Waffle Shop.* So I guess I'll have to wait until 2007 or so to see him actually do anything.
*Actually, he's starting the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at UNC Law School. But as an academic who can only dream of the politician's power to generate better short-term outcomes, it's frustrating to watch John Edwards slide, however temporarily, into my ineffectual world.