Although I disagree with very little you say, the problem is that Hillary is despised throughout the South. Virginia is a relatively moderate red state but she is intensely disliked here. I know a lot of it is irrational hatred and most people in the Southern states have no idea what her policies or philosophy really are, but the truth is they've already made up their mind about her and will never vote for her. Once most people make up their mind about a candidate, it's almost impossible to get them to reconsider.That's the entire problem with Hillary. In the South a majority has already made up their mind about her.Two things. First, I think Hillary might very well be able to pick up one or two border states. Second, and more important, I don't think any Dem is likely to win in the South, Edwards included. Basically, Democrats need to win the states Kerry won plus a few more in the Midwest and Mountain West, and all three of the leading Dems are equally capable of doing that.
It is almost impossible for a Democratic candidate to write off the South and win the general election by "running the table." If Hillary's the nominee, I think either Giuliani or Romney would crush her in the South and pick up enough battleground states to easily win.
So, for me, it simply boils down to practical politics. I too had high expectations for Obama and now I don't think he's got what it takes. I will vote for Edwards in the Virginia primary because he's the only one of the top three who I think can carry enough Southern and other red states to win the general election. However, it will probably be over by the time Virginia has its primary. If we nominate Hillary, a year from now I think we will be deeply regretting it.
On a broader note, I almost consider this a reason not to support Edwards. One way or another, Democrats have to get away from the trap of believing that the only way to win the presidency is to nominate a Southerner. There just aren't enough of them, and it means that 90% of the most qualified people in the party are automatically excluded. It's time to put this particular piece of conventional wisdom to bed.