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Say it ain’t so, Joe.
Oops, wrong political reference.
You’ll have to forgive me. I appear to be in the midst of a political déjà vu, and I seem to be slightly confused by Sarah Palin’s bus to nowhere streaming in and out of consciousness.
I may have even written this column before. Yes, I definitely have—several times, in fact.
Only, each time it is a different politician who stars as our tortured protagonist.
Today’s lucky subject is former ambulance chaser-turned U.S. politician-turned presidential hopeful-turned possibly one of the most hated men in America, John Edwards.
But we’ll just call him Johnny, like his now-infamous mistress/baby mama Rielle Hunter famously called him.
The 19-page federal indictment also refers to him as Johnny. Seriously, it does. I have a copy if you’d like to see.
The June 3 indictment in the North Carolina U.S. District Court’s Middle District charges Edwards with conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and giving false statements to the feds (a major no-no in a federal investigation).
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, the gist is this: Edwards is alleged to have spent nearly $1 million in federal campaign contributions to hide his affair with Hunter and their child. Throughout the investigation, Edwards has denied publicly, and to the feds it turns out, to be the father of Hunter’s child.
Of course, we all know now he is.
The irony of the claims is even outlined in the indictment, itself.
According to the indictment, “A centerpiece of Edwards’ candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man. The communication strategy developed by Edwards’ campaign stressed the importance of publicizing, among other things, ‘that [Edwards’] family comes first.’”
In the two years since the federal investigation came to light, we have all learned, through tell-all books, interviews and even by Edwards’ own admission, his actions were anything but those of a devoted family man.
We all watched this as his late wife Elizabeth Edwards valiantly fought her battle with cancer—a battle she sadly lost. I have never agreed with Elizabeth Edwards’ politics (or taste in men, as it were), but I was saddened nonetheless by her death, especially when I think about all the suffering she went through, physically and emotionally from the death of her teenage son, to her public embarrassment as this sordid tale unfolded to saying goodbye to her children as she lost her fight with cancer.
It is then that you remember the real victims in this case. It is not the federal government. It is not the taxpayers. It’s hardly even those who dumped money into Edwards’ campaign coffers.
It is the children: Cate, Emma Claire and Jack, whose family has become not only the lead evening news story, but tabloid fodder because of their father.
It is baby Frances Quinn, who came into this world amid the political scandal of the decade, if not the century, as the child of a fallen politician and his mistress.
People often ask me if the government should have the right to serve as a moral police of sorts—if it’s really appropriate to spend likely hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to investigate John Edwards’ actions.
This investigation spanned more than two years. Laws were broken.
The grand jury was not charged with finding whether or not John Edwards is a decent and moral man.
The grand jury was charged with determining whether or not there was enough evidence to charge Edwards with a crime or crimes.
They did. Edwards, of course, claims no legal wrongdoing.
He’ll have his day in court. He’ll likely hire some hotshot attorney out of Carolina who will serve as senator or governor in the future. Then, like so many politicians who came before in our great state, it will hit the fan.
And there it is my friends—political déjà vu all over again.