John Edwards Let His People Down

By Don Rollins

As the astute, philosophical news junkie posing as my mechanic here in Raleigh is wont to say between copious gulps of Dr. Pepper, John Edwards done let his people down.

Because we’ve hit on this topic before (over an oil change as I recall) we both know who Edwards’ “people” are. Or at least were: Everybody on the short-straw end of what Edwards called the two Americas – that nation within a nation where the sick go without health insurance, the jobs go overseas and the kids go to bed hungry.

Like I said, my personal Mr. Goodwrench is down with his politics. In the course of a radiator flush the cat can reel off the names of other once promising but since fallen Democratic standard bearers: Gary Hart, Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner – his pantheon of what he calls “Libido Lawyers”. And no matter how much [sex] was going on, says he, it was Second America that really got messed with. My guy is right, of course. When liberal political figures get front-paged over irreparable ethical lapses, liberal causes in the aggregate can suffer. But right now, North Carolinians across the political spectrum may have enjoyed all they can stand of John Edwards. They’re daily hammered with new and increasingly tawdry details about his love life, love child and love of lying. And they may be approaching fiasco fatigue. According to a recent Public Policy Polling survey, more than half (56%) of the registered voters polled think his trial for campaign law violations is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Left, right or otherwise, they’d sooner see him walk. But not everybody’s ready to call it quits.

For Raleigh’s well-funded Republican mudsling squad, this thing couldn’t go on long enough. For them, the homeboy Democrat’s 2008 Berlusconi moment is Christmas in Springtime – a gift from the beyond to a party machine already skilled in the art of ethical besmirchment.

I do not exaggerate. Well before the Edwards trial shifted into high gear, Tar Heel conservatives had begun drawing from a war chest in amounts equal to the GNP of Burundi, using the ready scratch to prime a state-of-the-art media campaign. All the trial has done for GOP funding is replenish much of what’s been spent thus far. But the real Edwards boon is not just the timing and the funding; it’s the ethical toxicity that comes of simply sharing a party affiliation with him.

Raleigh Republicans are checking every Democrat running for anything above village dog catcher for an Edwards connection, so onerous is he in this climate of moral exactitude. If there’s a theme to all that’s transpiring over in that Greensboro courthouse, it has to do with irony. True, it’s ironic that so dedicated a progressive as Edwards is helping line Republican coffers and hamper Democratic hopefuls. But as financier Stephen R.Weissman notes in an April 22 Los Angeles Times column, the greatest irony of all may be that John Edwards’ legal fate will soon lie not in the hands of “Beltway partisans and lawyers beholden to the system”, but “regular folks – a term Edwards used for those he would champion if he were president”. Or we could just go with my mechanic-political advisor and just say that John Edwards done let his people down.

Don Rollins lives in Raleigh, N.C. Email

From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2012

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