The rhetoric of the regular people…

Sen. John Edwards’ “regular people” rhetoric comes under examination by Dan Balz of the Washington Post:

In 2000, there was Al Gore’s “people versus the powerful” and in 1992, Bill Clinton’s “putting people first” and the “forgotten middle class.” For years, Democrats have talked about themselves as soul mates of America’s “working families.”

Now comes Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), a newly minted presidential candidate with his own variation on this theme. He wants to become president, he said last week, to be “a champion for regular people.”

Edwards’s fanfare for the regular person prompts plenty of questions. Is it not-so-thinly disguised class warfare? Is it Gore Lite or an echo of Clinton ’92? Or has Edwards reinterpreted the populist strain of the Southern political tradition, best captured by Huey Long’s “Every man a king”? Just what does Edwards mean by regular people, or to put it another way, who isn’t a regular person? And can a wealthy former trial lawyer successfully make this case?

Balz’ last two questions are more interesting than the suggestion that Edwards’ is simply copying a strategy. Copying? From another perspective this appears to be ideological continuity.