As John mentioned yesterday in the addendum to my post, the news media covered up for John Edwards back when he was plying his fraudulent “friend of the poor and downtrodden” schtick. About the only skeptical item I can recall came from George Will, who interviewed Edwards back in 2007 or 2008 and noted that Edwards had never heard of James Q. Wilson, or just about any other serious thinker on the subject of poverty or American social policy in general. It was a subtly effective way of highlighting what a lightweight Edwards is.
Today, NY Times op-ed columnist Gail Collins brings her rapier prose effectively to bear against His Fraudulence:
There was a time when many of the great minds in the Democratic Party thought John Edwards would be the perfect presidential nominee. He was cute and from the South, and the son of a millworker, and he talked about poor people and had lots of position papers.
Unfortunately, he was about as deep as a melted ice cube. . .
For somebody with “big, bold positions,” Edwards really had very little to say that wasn’t slick and evasive. . .
Anyhow, some major presidential candidates are more enthralling when they talk about what they believe than others, but they can generally at least show you how they came to be at the table. John Edwards, not so much. Yet it was hard to put your finger on what was lacking, aside from his dismissiveness of the shrimp situation. He had an excellent stump speech and was really good at not saying anything that sounded stupid in a quotable way.
But, somehow, the public realized that this guy who looked so good and sounded so glib was really a fraud. Even without knowing about the secret love child or the sleazy right-hand man, or the impressive ability to stare right into a TV camera and lie like a rug, they got his number and picked other people to run for president. Voters’ gut instincts are generally pretty good. They certainly were with John Edwards. . .
Okay, so the people got it right about Edwards. Ms. Collins: what’s your excuse? Or everyone else in the media who covered for this guy? It’s really rather pathetic to pat yourself on the back about Edwards now.
JOHN adds: I subscribe to the view that voters most often get things right, but I’m not sure you can prove it by Edwards’ career. In his first try for office, he beat an incumbent Republican senator by over 80,000 votes. He then ran for vice-president on a ticket with John Kerry, who did better than he deserved to against George W. Bush. He was knocked out of the 2008 primaries relatively early, but he still did better than anyone other than Obama and Hillary Clinton, in a group that included, among others, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson. He finished second in the Iowa caucuses. Considering the appeal that Obama and Clinton had to Democratic voters, losing to them is no shame. My guess is that for most Democrats, the realization that Edwards is a phony came after his financial and personal mishaps had finally been reported.
But then, I’m generally a fan of juries, too, and there is reason to believe that Edwards also fooled more than a couple of them.