John Edwards’ Theme A Winning One For Democrats

What was the at the heart of former senator and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards political message has come full circle.  While Edwards embarrassed himself, and sullied his name the theme he embraced has been picked up by others.  The message of economic inequality has launched New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and other  Democrats who understand that issue is one that matters as public policy and when fashioning a winning coalition at election time.  It must be painful for Edwards to watch others use the issue without giving him any credit for helping frame it years ago.

It was Edwards, during his 2004 presidential run, who returned the focus to inequality by flipping Clintonism on its head. In his 1992 campaign, Clinton had talked a lot about “rewarding work.” Democrats, he insisted, would help people who “played by the rules”—for instance, via an expanded earned income tax credit for the working poor—but they would stop coddling welfare recipients. In 2004, Edwards took that judgmental tone but redirected it. In his narrative, the people disrespecting work were not welfare mothers but trust funders, people who lived off their investments rather than the sweat of their brow.

John Edwards Political Cartoons

So much potential.  So little integrity.

The Pain Felt By Elizabeth Edwards

There is no way that anyone can read this and not feel pain, and also the desire to de-nut John Edwards.

In the fall of 2007, after the National Enquirer published an article about the affair, Elizabeth Edwards, according to the testimony of Reynolds and Matthew Nelson, another staffer who was on the stand Wednesday, became enraged.

She pawed at her husband in a car ride to Raleigh-Durham airport while others were present, asking him if that’s what he and his mistress did in New York.

John Edwards, according to testimony, got out of the car before the couple got to the airport, got in a car that had been trailing them with other staffers and sent someone to take his seat by his wife.

At the airport, an emotional Elizabeth Edwards crumbled to the ground in the parking lot. Reynolds and Hargrove McElroy, a longtime friend, rushed to the distraught woman’s side, helped her up, got her into a restroom and tried to calm her down.

Elizabeth Edwards, Reynolds said, became “understandably upset” again. Elizabeth Edwards, who had been through extensive treatments for breast cancer, took off her bra, exposed her chest and stormed out in front of her husband and said: “You don’t see me any more,” Reynolds recalled.

The Edwards’ eldest child, Cate Edwards, a 30-year-old lawyer who has sat stoically through her father’s trial, became visibly upset during a break in Reynolds’ testimony.

Her father leaned over and mentioned to her during the break when the jury was out of the room that he did not know what was coming next.

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell had just objected to what prosecutor David Harbach was asking Reynolds. Judge Catherine Eagles sent the jury out of the courtroom for a brief break.

Cate Edwards said something inaudible to her father, then left the courtroom in tears as her father quietly called after her, “Cate, Cate.”

John Edwards Soap Opera Does Not Disappoint

While John Edwards is a major disspointment, the choas of his life is not letting any reader down when it comes to the legal drama underway this past week in Greensboro. 

I admit to following the tawdry details, and while stunned at the lack of deceney exhibited by Edwards as it relates to the evidence being presented, I am also ready to hear more.  That is part human nature, part arm-chair legal buff, and part political junkie.  Whatever it is labeled one thing is for certain. 

This is one amazing soap opera type story—with weeks more to be presented to the nation.

A law school graduate who was as much a fan of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels as Mr. Edwards was, Mr. Young became swept up in the campaign, which was Mr. Edwards’s first. He volunteered. One of his first jobs was arranging the Edwards family’s Christmas photograph.

On election night that year, he was in Mr. Edwards’s suite, watching him deftly calm one of his crying children, accept congratulations and talk of a bright future for America.

“He was a great man, inspiring, exciting,” Mr. Young, who has been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony, told the court.

At that point, he knew that working for Mr. Edwards was all he wanted to do. He was drawn to the power and to the money.

“I thought it would lead to good things for my family,” he said.

Within the year, Mr. Young was spending his days doing whatever the Edwards family needed. He changed light bulbs at their home and changed the oil in their cars. He became Mr. Edwards’s driver, always making sure the senator had three newspapers, hand sanitizer and cold Sprite and wine at the ready.

By 2006, Elizabeth Edwards, Mr. Edwards’s wife, had discovered the affair. So Mr. Young became the lovers’ go-between, holding the special “bat phone” that Mr. Edwards used to call Ms. Hunter and making sure she got in and out of hotel rooms so the two could be together.

Mr. Young said he went to increasingly elaborate lengths to help Mr. Edwards hide his relationship with Ms. Hunter. At one political event where both women were present, it was his job to keep them apart. In return, Mr. Edwards gave Mr. Young access to his business associates and helped him acquire some land so Mr. Young and his wife could build a dream house. Such was his devotion to Mr. Edwards that by the end of their relationship in 2008, Mr. Young would claim paternity of the child Mr. Edwards fathered with Ms. Hunter while running for president. “You said you actually fell in love with Mr. Edwards?” Abbe D. Lowell, Mr. Edwards’s lawyer, asked him at one point during last week’s testimony.

“We all did,” Mr. Young replied.

And, Mr. Lowell pressed, you fell out of love?

“Later, yes sir.”

John Edwards Needs Life-Saving Surgery

Breaking News….

A federal judge says she has two letters from a cardiologist saying that John Edwards has a life-threatening condition that requires surgery in February, the Associated Press reports.

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has a “life-threatening condition that will require surgery in February,” the Associated Press reports.

Attorneys for Edwards were in a North Carolina federal court today seeking a two-month trial delay, which was granted. The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee is charged with breaking campaign finance laws to cover up his extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter.

The judge in the case says she has two letters from a cardiologist about Edwards’ condition, the AP reports. The trial is now set for March 26.

Elizabeth Edwards’s Funeral To Be Picketed By Anti-Gay Freaks

This is just bizarre.   And so wrong.

Westboro Baptist Church announced that they will picket the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards on Saturday.

That one has a First Amendment right does not mean the common sense button gets pushed off.

Why the anti-gay zealots from Westboro Baptist Church, out of Topeka, Kansas want to make a mess of the funeral for Elizabeth Edwards is a mystery.  But then when it comes to this group of genetically deformed misfits there is no logic to any of their antics. 

That the huffing and puffing from the  Westboro Baptist Church might not even be noticed due to a counter-movement at the funeral is the reason this post goes up tonight.

In the meantime, Raleigh residents are organizing their own protective measures, with at least two counterprotests planned to put a human buffer between Westboro Baptist picketers and the mourners. “Regardless of your politics, it’s just downright rude to bring a protest of this sort to disrupt the mourning process,” a group called Line of Love wrote on its Facebook page to organize volunteers.

Should National Enquirer Get Pulitzer Prize For John Edwards ‘Baby’ Reporting?

The executive editor of the National Enquirer says he plans to enter his paper’s work on the John Edwards scandal for a Pulitzer Prize.

Don’t laugh.

“It’s clear we should be a contender for this,” Barry Levine said by phone Thursday, hours after the former presidential candidate admitted what the newspaper had been reporting all along: that he is the father of Rielle Hunter’s baby. “The National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, was able to publish this reporting.”

Although the staff never doubted its reports that Edwards had fathered a baby girl with his former campaign videographer, Levine said, “there is vindication, finally. Mr. Edwards kept the story alive much longer than it needed to be kept alive with his denials. He has only himself to blame.”

John Edwards Personal Saga About To Make News Again

I was a strong supporter of John Edwards in 2007, and into the first portion of 2008.  I felt then, as now, that the issue of poverty in America, and the many issues that extend from that central concern are most worthy of a national conversation along with creative policy ideas to combat them.  So it was very troubling when the personal life of Edwards became a soap opera, and as a result his ability to effect change at any level of government was torn away.

Today more tawdry news and insight into the life of John Edwards, one who many placed hope in, was splashed (rightfully, I might add)  onto the front page of America’s newspaper, The New York Times.  Most troubling to me is the insight provided by Andrew Young, a former close political assistant to Edwards.  The coldness of the thinking about a wedding after the death of Mrs. Edwards is too harsh to think serious.  And yet the evidence at hand suggests it likely is true.

But a federal grand jury in nearby Raleigh is investigating whether any crimes were committed in connection with campaign laws in an effort to conceal his extramarital affair with a woman named Rielle Hunter. At the same time, Mr. Edwards is moving toward an abrupt reversal in his public posture; associates said in interviews that he is considering declaring that he is the father of Ms. Hunter’s 19-month-old daughter, something that he once flatly asserted in a television interview was not possible.

Perhaps the most outlandish, and totally indefensible position ever thrown up a politician is being considered by the Edwards legal team.

According to people familiar with the grand jury investigation, prosecutors are considering a complicated and novel legal issue: whether payments to a candidate’s mistress to ensure her silence (and thus maintain the candidate’s viability) should be considered campaign donations and thus whether they should be reported. When Mr. Edwards was running for president, and later when he still held out hope of a cabinet position in the Obama administration, two of his wealthy patrons, through a once-trusted Edwards aide, quietly provided Ms. Hunter with large financial benefits, including a new BMW and lodging, that were used to keep her out of public view.

Wade M. Smith, a Raleigh lawyer who represents Mr. Edwards, declined to comment on the paternity issue directly, but said in a statement that “there may be a statement on that subject at some point, but there is no timetable and we will see how we feel about it as events unfold.”

The notion that Mr. Edwards is the father has been reinforced by the account of Andrew Young, once a close aide to Mr. Edwards, who had signed an affidavit asserting that he was the father of Ms. Hunter’s child.

Mr. Young, who has since renounced that statement, has told publishers in a book proposal that Mr. Edwards knew all along that he was the child’s father. He said Mr. Edwards pleaded with him to accept responsibility falsely, saying that would reduce the story to one of an aide’s infidelity.

In the proposal, which The New York Times examined, Mr. Young says that he assisted the affair by setting up private meetings between Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter. He wrote that Mr. Edwards once calmed an anxious Ms. Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band.

What can one say or add to that as commentary?