John Edwards's campaign theme is a slice of warmed-over Disraeli: there are "two Americas", one for the rich, one for the poor, and, even though he's part of the former, he wants you to know that he started out in the latter. Friday was the Edwardses' 27th anniversary, so, in keeping with tradition, they hit the Newburgh Wendy's, along with the Kerrys, campaign mascot Ben Affleck and accompanying press crew.
The photo-op didn't go smoothly.
Kerry went over to say hi to some marines, who turned out to be Bush supporters
and resented the interruption to their lunch. More telling was Teresa Heinz Kerry. She pointed to the picture of the bowl of chilli above the clerk's head: "What's that?" she asked. He explained that it was something called "chilli" and she said she'd like to try a bowl. The Senator also ordered a Frosty, a chocolate dessert. They toyed with them after a fashion, and then got back on the bus.
It then emerged that Wendy's had just been an appetiser. The campaign advance team had ordered 19 five-star lunches from the Newburgh Yacht Club for Kerry, Edwards, Affleck and co to be served back on the bus: shrimp vindaloo, grilled diver sea scallops, prosciutto, wrapped stuffed chicken, etc.
I'm not sure whether Ben had the shrimp and Teresa the scallops, but, either way, it turns out John Edwards is right: there are two Americas - one America where folks eat at Wendy's, another America where the elite pass an amusing half-hour slumming among the folks at Wendy's and then chow down on the Newburgh Yacht Club's specials of the day. The Elizabeth Edwards anniversary-at-Wendy's shtick was meant to emphasise her husband's authenticity, but it now looks as inauthentic as Kerry's own blundering "regular guy" routine.
The equivalent here in the last election is Martin and his Tim Horton's - every morning you'd see him with the large Timmy's. Imagine if we found out our multi-millionaire PM was filling it up with a specialty brew on the campaing bus. Scandalous!