The party faithful began wandering in. I recognized a number them from other events like the Kerry rally in the Ellicott Square Building this spring. These folks were the big spenders investing in their future. Like good gamblers, many of them cover their bets with Republican Party donations as well.

With the words, “Edward is downstairs” the reporters were took off for the first floor. By the elevator, Edwards was in media press mode - cameras were flashing, Bob McCarthy from The Buffalo News was asking questions, and everyone was trying to get in position for their shot. Oh, the excitement!

Edwards went upstairs and then met the folks. For a price you could get photo-op, a picture with Edward smiling like he is your best friend and shaking your hand. There was a long line of folks awaiting their opportunity to have their picture take with the man.

Edwards is clearly running for Vice-President. He’s been making four stops a day. He was scheduled to be in Buffalo for two hours - max. Lenny Lenihan, the Erie County Democratic chair gave the standard introduction.

What is interesting is Edwards restarted this campaign after getting back from Europe. He said in his speech that he was there to attend a meeting of NATO, but he also made a stop in Italy to attend a meeting of the Bilderbergers, a group comprised of the wealthiest industrialists and bankers in the world.

Edward gave his standard stump speech. He put emotion into it. Trying to uplift the faithful. The faithful listened to his journey from poverty to being a Senator. He spoke of race being an American issue and not just a black issue. He said that poverty is not a poor person’s issue but is a mortal American issue. The ghost of Michael Harrington’s “Other America” and democratic liberalism filled the room.

However, it was obvious from the response he received that the true believers left the building long ago. This audience was about the real politick. They had paid the tribute and an Edwards victory was a return on investment. As hard as Edwards may have tried, youthful idealism and enthusiasm was not on the agenda.

It was the same when Kerry spoke here in the spring – a rally of controlled enthusiasm.

Last year, two buses filled with young people from Buffalo traveled to New Hampshire to campaign for Dean in sub-zero weather. What happened to Howard’s army? What happened to the so-called anger in the speaking of truth to power? It just wasn’t part of this political cast. It remains to seem if it will be part of this Democratic Party.

I left after Edwards and I watched for as a moment the party faithful eating their $1200 lunches. By Joe Schmidbauer

Going to political events is fun, if you take it as bad theatre. I got to the John Edwards’ $1200 a plate luncheon early. I walked up to the sign-in table and showed them my press pass.

Theresa Kennedy, a Democratic party staffer directed me into the banquet room and pointed to the back of the room. Most of the local “media” was not there yet. I sat down and waited for the rush. In a few minute they arrived in force, primping for their fifteen second sound bites.

This time I was going as de-press. No socializing, no handshaking, no bad jokes about the Green Party, no more being called the lefty press with the politicos, just a stone cold observer of the American political process.