I have tried to avert my eyes from the John Edwards trial, but this snippet from a report of that event in the Washington Post caught my eye. It seems that Edwards’ own attorney told the trial judge this week: “No one is going to deny that Mr. Edwards lied and lied and lied and lied.” But for the fact that Keith Olbermann is, himself, one of the worst people in the world, he would have given this award to John Edwards and retired it.
Whatever one thinks about the Edwards trial, we should not avert our eyes from how well the sleazy Senator did in national Democratic Party politics, and what this success tells us about the Democrats. In 2004, Edwards was the Democratic nominee for vice presidential candidate. Had John Kerry won the race, and he didn’t lose by all that much, Edwards would have been Vice President of the United States – a heartbeat away from the presidency, as people say.
Then, in 2008, Democratic voters treated Edwards as a credible candidate for President. That year, Edwards received 30 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses and 17 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary in what were essentilly three-person races.
These numbers understate Edwards’ popularity with the left-wing of his Party, the source of a disproportionate amount of his support in 2008. Moreover, but for Barack Obama’s race, Edwards would have enjoyed even more support from the Democratic base.
Democrats would object to this line of discussion on the grounds that, in 2004 and 2008, they did not know about Edwards’ bad deeds. This is true, although they would have known about some of them in 2008 if the MSM had scrutinized Edwards the way it scrutinized Sarah Palin and the way it’s scrutinizing Mitt Romney now.
It should also be remembered that John Kerry perceived what was obvious to many of us all along – Edwards is a phony. Kerry shared that assessment with his campaign manager Robert Shrum. Nonetheless, Kerry selected Edwards as his running mate. Keep this in mind the next time John Kerry tries to pass himself off as a statesman.
But the key takeaway from Edwards’ national political career is this: he rose to prominence among the Democrats for no good reason – he was a one-term Senator of no real accomplishment – based on his pretty face and an ability to package left-wing red meat in an appealing, “two Americas” speech. That’s how easily the “reality-based community” was snookered into believing in a transparent phony – a guy central casting would send over to play a huckster – who also turned out to be a despicable person.
Conservative Republicans have been mocked, not entirely without justification, because they embraced Sarah Palin for basically the same reasons. Palin too is attractive and does “red meat” well. But, though Palin was a flawed candidate for Vice President, there isn’t anything phony about her and she is by no means a train wreck of a human being.
Is there any chance that the Democratic left will come in for the kind of ridicule over its romance with Edwards that has been heaped on conservative Republicans in connection with Palin? No, there is not.