I agree with John that the charges against John Edwards are exceedingly weak (more importantly, my spouse, who really knows these matters inside and out, thinks the same thing, so there. . .), but this doesn’t in the slightest mitigate my view that Edwards is one of the most repulsive human beings who ever foisted himself on our political life.
I thought the Halperin-Heilemann account of Edwards in Game Change couldn’t be topped, but this morning’s New York Times has an article on one of Edwards’s benefactors, the heiress Bunny Mellon, that offers some fresh details about what a complete poser and boundless cad Edwards is. Here’s some of the best parts:
Mr. Edwards ingratiated himself with Mrs. Mellon to the point where she gave him millions of dollars as well as a gold necklace as a good-luck charm for the campaign trail, according to a tell-all memoir by Andrew Young, Mr. Edwards’s former aide, who is also an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
In May 2007, when Mr. Edwards’s mistress, Rielle Hunter, told Mr. Edwards she was pregnant, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Young began looking for people who could give them money to help conceal the affair, the indictment said.
About the same time, it said, Mrs. Mellon wrote a note to Mr. Young, saying: “I was sitting alone in a grim mood — furious that the press attacked Senator Edwards on the price of a haircut. But it inspired me — from now on, all haircuts, etc. that are necessary and important for his campaign — please send the bills to me. … It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions.”
Over the next eight months, the indictment said, Mrs. Mellon sent checks for Mr. Edwards through Mr. Huffman totaling $725,000, “falsely” referring in memo lines to things like “chairs,” “antique Charleston table” and “bookcase.”
Ultimately Mrs. Mellon may have spent as much as $6 million on behalf of Edwards. But here’s the bit that really shows Edwards’s character:
Mrs. Mellon seemed to ask little in return. But according to Mr. Young’s book, when she buried her daughter in May 2008, she had wanted Mr. Edwards to attend the funeral. “As far as I knew,” Mr. Young wrote, “the only thing Bunny had ever asked of him — in return for more than $6 million — was that he sit on one side of her at that funeral while Caroline Kennedy sat on the other. Caroline fulfilled her wish. John Edwards did not.”
But wait, there’s more! This is the best tidbit of the whole piece:
After Mr. Edwards dropped out of the presidential race in early 2008, Mr. Young said, he still hoped that Mrs. Mellon would give him $50 million and access to her private jet so he could lead a fight against poverty around the world. (This never occurred.)
Does anyone really think Edwards is the person to lead a fight against global poverty? How much of that $50 million would have actually gone to putting food in the mouths of poor people, or putting a roof over anyone’s head, and how much would have gone for the pure promotion of Edwards’s speechifying, undoubtedly between stints at four-star hotels?