Tags: John Edwards

‘Wendy Davis is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.’


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

The Airbrushed, Polished, Rewritten History of Wendy Davis

Nobody can seek office as they are, huh? Everybody’s got to be born in a log cabin, and have worked himself up from nothing. Choom gangs, William Ayers, and Tony Rezko get airbrushed from history; ineffective years of community organizing are rewritten into a dedication to the poor that rivals St. Francis of Assisi. Al Gore couldn’t be just another senator; he had to invent the Internet. Wartime service isn’t enough; “If you have any question about what John Kerry is made of, just spend 3 minutes with the men who served with him.” John Edwards is Father of the Year. “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

Throw Wendy Davis onto the pile, as the Dallas Morning News took a closer look at her life story and found some details not quite matching her tales:

Davis was 21, not 19, when she was divorced. She lived only a few months in the family mobile home while separated from her husband before moving into an apartment with her daughter.

A single mother working two jobs, she met Jeff Davis, a lawyer 13 years older than her, married him and had a second daughter. He paid for her last two years at Texas Christian University and her time at Harvard Law School, and kept their two daughters while she was in Boston. When they divorced in 2005, he was granted parental custody, and the girls stayed with him. Wendy Davis was directed to pay child support.

In an extensive interview last week, Davis acknowledged some chronological errors and incomplete details in what she and her aides have said about her life.

“My language should be tighter,” she said. “I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail.” . . . 

A former colleague and political supporter who worked closely with Davis when she was on the council said the body’s work was very time-consuming.

“Wendy is tremendously ambitious,” he said, speaking only on condition of anonymity in order to give what he called an honest assessment. “She’s not going to let family or raising children or anything else get in her way.”

He said: “She’s going to find a way, and she’s going to figure out a way to spin herself in a way that grabs at the heart strings. A lot of it isn’t true about her, but that’s just us who knew her. But she’d be a good governor.”

A good governor . . . once you get past the pathological lying!

Andrew Kaczynski points out . . . an inconvenient truth:

Davis did however testify under oath in 2012 that she was 19, when she divorced, not 21. Davis was testifying before a three-judge panel that was was deciding whether the new Texas legislative district map violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

She sent a statement to Buzzfeed that at age 19, she was “on her way to a divorce.”

An enormous ego is almost a requirement for running for office, so we shouldn’t be surprised that those who want our votes carry more than their share of self-aggrandizement, conveniently edited memories, and borderline-insane belief in their own personal heroic narratives. The thing is, we don’t really need any larger-than-life heroes in public office. Governors, senators, congressmen, presidents . . . they’re temp workers. The more grandiose the ambitions get, the larger the scale of potential failure gets. Sometimes the idea is to fundamentally transform the culture and politics of the Middle East. Sometimes the idea is “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” It’s tough to get people to stand up and cheer, much less write out checks, for anything less than forever changing life as we know it.

Immanentizing the eschaton requires a messiah figure, which mean every contender for the throne needs to have that pitch-perfect life story. Details be damned.

A frequent lament on the right since the frustrating defeats of 2012 has been, “we need to become better storytellers.” Dare I flip it around and say, the American electorate needs to stop needing all of its information in convenient storybook form? Because the basic facts of, say, the need for entitlement reform don’t necessarily lend themselves well to the convenient plucky-underdog-takes-on-the-system-and-wins Erin Brockovich template that apparently many Americans require to understand.

Thomas Lifson:

It is not exactly a surprise that the latest feminist political icon, Texas state Senator Wendy Davis, turns out to be a phony and an exploiter. Davis, you may recall, rocketed to progressive superstardom by conducting an ultimately futile filibuster on a bill tightening health regulations on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation when the life of the mother is not in peril. The fact that Davis is an attractive blond and speaks fairly well in public was enough to gladden the heart of the pro-abortion faction, eager to find a champion who can be packaged as an inspiring profile in courage. She has already raised $12 million for her campaign for governor, tapping into the victimology cult among wealthy feminist women.

Here’s how Tanene Allison, “political consultant and Texan,” characterizes the latest developments in the Huffington Post:

A gang of men in Texas are trying to burn State Sen. Wendy Davis on a proverbial stake. Almost as soon as the Davis campaign announced that, over the final six months of 2013, they had raised more money that her opponent, the knives came out. As Texans are beginning to unite around Wendy, Greg Abbott and his out-of-touch operatives are scared and relying on the oldest playbook in the world: Tear the woman apart by examining her personal life and saying she isn’t perfect enough.

That “gang of men in Texas” she’s sneering at is the reporting staff and editors of the Dallas Morning News. The falsehoods are not in dispute; Davis admits to the newspaper that she’s been saying things that aren’t true. Had the newspaper run the headline, “She isn’t perfect enough,” it would be a laughingstock.

The allegedly nonpartisan mainstream media seems to think well of the Huffington Post, and when you see something like the above, it’s really hard to understand why. This isn’t merely a passionate defense of Davis; this is an attack on the newspaper as somehow being sexist and malicious.

Tags: Wendy Davis , Barack Obama , John Kerry , John Edwards , Al Gore

Bob Filner and the Bad Boys of American Politics


The final Morning Jolt of the week features the shocking news that the NSA behaves as badly as we always feared; a review of Planes, the latest Pixar/Disney effort to separate parents from their money; and then this big lesson from our seemingly endless cavalcade of scandals:

Bob Filner’s Psychotic Behavior Needs to be a National Teachable Moment

Bob Filner and the rest of the bad boys of modern American politics are spectacular, vivid reminders of why the Founding Fathers distrusted the accumulation of too much political power, and sought to spread it around and install checks and balances.

Allahpundit at points out what we’re learning as one accuser after another comes forward against Filner:

He wasn’t “coming on” to people, like a random person at a bar might do; he was using his status as mayor to pressure women, supposedly in great volume and sometimes with unwanted physical contact, who worked for him and with him into socializing with him. Given the freakish tenacity with which he’s clung to his office, it seems like the power stroke he got from all of this was at least as exciting as the prospect of sex. In which case, why wouldn’t he target a great-grandmother? Every woman he met was potentially at risk, I’d bet, but especially the ones who had official city business with his lordship, the mayor.

In short, Filner wants power, and his refusal to step down in the face of great embarrassment, abandonment of his allies, and public outcry and ridicule suggests a certain psychological addiction to power.

A lot of people want power. With power, you get all the other stuff you want. For Anthony Weiner, power brings young women who want to talk dirty to him on Twitter. For Eliot Spitzer, power brought him access to the Emperor VIP club and the really expensive prostitutes. For Jesse Jackson Jr., power brought a lot of money in campaign donations that he could spend on “$43,000 gold Rolex, cashmere capes, nearly $20,000 of Michael Jackson memorabilia” and a lifestyle significantly more luxurious than that of a standard-issue congressman.

My television viewing habits recently added Camelot, which early on features the villain King Lot, a classic brutal conqueror-ruler character. His motives are simple; He wants power, territory, sex, food, and the ability to enforce his will whenever he wishes, including the brutal murder of anyone who would defy him. That desire is not as rare as we might think in this world. Just look at Egypt; just look at Syria.

Thankfully, the United States does not suffer marauding warlords, raping and pillaging as they please. But we (and the rest of the Western world) do have our share of people who see political power as a path to achieving a certain status of fame, wealth, and so on, in which they can indulge themselves of anything they desire with no negative consequences. Look at Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the alleged ‘party king’ of Paris and Washington, holding orgies with prostitutes in luxury hotels. Look at Silvio Berlusconi. Look at John Edwards, convincing his wealthiest supporter to finance a secret effort to keep his pregnant mistress quiet and hidden from the media. Heck, look at John F. Kennedy and his use of 19-year-old interns while in the White House.

What’s more, these folks can pursue their own wealth and pleasures while convincing themselves and some segment of the public that they’ve dedicated their lives to public service.

If you’ve met some figures in public office who have earned your respect, and who show no signs of being a Nero or a Caligula, good. Not every politician is a selfish monster seeking to turn their public office into an entry key into a bacchanalia that would make the Eyes Wide Shut parties look tame. But a sufficient number of them are, and as a result of that, they shouldn’t be put up on pedestals, and they shouldn’t be greeted with messianic reverence.

They’re contractors, and both we and our elected officials would be better off if we all remembered that.

Tags: Bob Filner , Eliot Spitzer , Anthony Weiner , John Edwards , DSK , Silvio Berlusconi

The Most Carlos Dangerous Game


Really long Morning Jolt today. Besides today’s preview on the sleaziest mayoral candidate in the country (Carlos Danger – er, Weiner) and the sleaziest mayor in the country (Bob Filner), there’s news of a new group forming to retire Lindsey Graham, another deal from Terry McAuliffe looking at, and thoughts on Man of Steel and superhero sequels.

The Era of the Psychotic Candidate

Remember Alvin Greene? He was the guy who scraped together the filing fee to appear as a candidate for Senate on the Democratic line, and who won, even though almost no one in the state knew who he was. One of his major ideas to improve the economy was making an action figure of himself. We all had fun laughing at the surreal Forrest-Gump-come-to-life, and he was enjoyably crazy candidate, right up until the moment he started howling and wailing at a reporter who showed up at his home, and then it started to feel like we were laughing at a man with serious mental health issues.

We can still laugh at Anthony Weiner… and we will be laughing at him for a long time. But it is starting to feel like we’re watching a man with serious, deep-rooted psychological issues relating to his sexuality, his self-control, his ability to assess risk, his inability to admit the truth unless confronted with overwhelming evidence of his falsehoods, his willingness to see others as objects and God knows how many other issues…

New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner said he sent texts and lewd photos of himself to a woman over the Internet after he resigned from Congress, prompting at least three rivals to call for him to drop out.

The gossip website The Dirty posted correspondence between the unidentified woman and Weiner, 48, who left the House of Representatives in 2011 after similar pictures sent to women surfaced. The latest images used the name “Carlos Danger,” the website said. It displayed a photo taken straight down a man’s body showing bare feet and strategically placed pixels.

“I said other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have,” Weiner said at a press briefing in Manhattan with his wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton. “While some things that have been posted today are true and some are not, there is no question that what I did was wrong. This behavior is behind me.”

Weiner said he would stay in the race for mayor.

God, I wish Andrew Breitbart were still alive so he could have hijacked the podium again yesterday.

Full video of the most brilliant comeuppance of the modern media era.

Did anybody really think Weiner had really changed from the man caught in scandal two years ago? Some may have hoped that fatherhood would make him grow up some, and some may be surprised that he would be so reckless as to choose to run for mayor with additional women out there, waiting to tell their tales of his much more recent tawdry behavior… but did anybody really believe that he had turned over a new leaf and become a changed man? Back in June, BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer quoted professional therapists who contended Weiner’s description of his short stay at a psychiatric evaluation center did not come close to what they would consider serious treatment.

People go into politics for a lot of reasons – some altruistic or idealistic or principled, some base, and for many, a mix of both. A career in politics can provide an individual with a lot of what they desire – power, admirers, fame, money. Kissinger declared power to be the ultimate aphrodisiac, so perhaps political stature is indeed a great way to enhance one’s sex appeal. (Right now, half my male readers working in politics just mumbled to themselves, “I must be doing it wrong.”)

Clearly, those fulfilling those desires can be addictive. We’ve seen the comeback playbook executed by politician after politician, time after time, so that it has become a boring, predictable cliché; the more a candidate sticks to the playbook, the less persuaded we should be that there is any real remorse or acceptance of responsibility.

After the “deny, deny, deny” strategy (as Monica Lewinsky quoted Bill Clinton) blows up in a politician’s face, he admits some portion of the accusations, but denies others. (A “modified limited hangout.”) There may be counter-accusations; there is an acceptance of some consequences but not others. At the press conference, the wife may be rolled out as a human shield. There is an insistence that the focus on the scandal has been a distraction from the politician’s real work. There is an insistence that this wrongdoing was a private matter and not the public’s concern. The accusations are driven by partisan motives, anyway. There is an admission of sin and often a very public seeking of spiritual counsel from political allies who are religious figures. There is a soft-focus interview that appears to be an open confession but that remains vague on key details; the privacy of others will be cited. God will get mentioned a lot. And throughout it all, the politician remains convinced: I can come back from this. This isn’t the end of me. As his presidential campaign flopped and his sex scandal ticked like a time bomb, John Edwards was utterly convinced he could trade his endorsement for the running mate slot to either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton; when that effort went nowhere, he set his sights on being attorney general or, ultimately, nominated to the Supreme Court.

They need this. They so, so need this. They really cannot go on to living a life outside the spotlight, just practicing law somewhere or running a hardware store. (Well, John Edwards is apparently returning to practicing law.)

The spoils of political victory – power, fame, groupies, lucrative post-elected-office jobs in lobbying or consulting – will always attract a certain number of unscrupulous head cases, egomaniacs, narcissists, and borderline unhinged. They will only go away when the voters say “no.”

Speaking of “no”, and how some politicians don’t realize it means, “no” …

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner: Heroic Veteran of the War on Women.

Okay, San Diego. What’s it going to take?

A former employee of San Diego’s mayor stepped forward Monday claiming she was forced to resign after she said the mayor treated women as “sexual objects or stupid idiots.”

 “The past six months turned out to be the worst time of my entire working life,” said Irene McCormack Jackson, former communication director for Mayor Bob Filner.

McCormack Jackson had worked as a journalist and as a manager with the Port of San Diego before she accepted the position on the mayor’s staff.

Among the allegations: that Mayor Filner told her to work without panties.

She also claims the mayor said he wanted to see her naked and couldn’t wait to consummate their relationship even though they had only a working relationship.

“He thought it was acceptable behavior to regularly make sexual comments that were crude and disgusting,” McCormack Jackson said.

Wait, there’s more!

SAN DIEGO – San Diego city attorney Jan Goldsmith will question the police officers in charge of Mayor Bob Filner’s security.

A lawsuit filed Monday by former Filner communications director Irene McCormick Jackson claims the men who guard the mayor witnessed sexual harassment.

“McCormack Jackson was in an elevator with … Filner along with the police officer…” the lawsuit alleges.
“The police officer was fixing his handcuffs,” the lawsuit claims. “The mayor put a headlock on (McCormack Jackson) and said, ‘You know what I would like to do with those handcuffs?’”

The lawsuit also says Filner stopped the harassment when a member of his security detail walked in on it.

“Mayor Filner only ceased trying to kiss her when the elevator stopped and a staffer got in with them,” the lawsuit said.

Remember, Filner’s excuse is, “I’m a hugger.”

Tags: Anthony Weiner , Eliot Spitzer , John Edwards

Bill Clinton Joins John Edwards as ‘Father of the Year’ Award-Winner


Of course.

The National Father’s Day Committee, an entity of the Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council, each year confers Father of the Year Honors on contemporary lifestyle leaders of our culture whose lives are dedicated to family, citizenship, charity, civility, responsibility and reverence.

Their 2007 award winner? John Edwards.

This year’s award winner? Bill Clinton.

FILE PHOTO: President Bill Clinton, at right, with an unidentified supporter in 1995.

Tags: John Edwards , Bill Clinton

How to Spot a Veep Pick Before the News Breaks


Maybe you’ll first hear the name of Mitt Romney’s running mate from the Romney campaign’s downloadable app. But it’s also pretty likely that the identity of the running mate will break in one of three other ways:

1) The campaign will want its official plane to feature the name of the running mate, and someone will see the name being added to the fuselage at the airport.

From an Aviation web site chat board (great sourcing, I know): Kerry’s plane is being painted with decals that say Edwards.

2) The campaign plane will make an unexpected stop, or the campaign will charter a flight from a particular location to a campaign event in a swing state.

Another rumor has a chartered plane from Alaska landing a while ago near Dayton, Ohio. If true, that could mean McCain’s selection could be an outside-the-box game-changer: picking Alaska’s first female governor, Sarah Palin, a 44-year-old mother of five and political maverick in her own right, who went against her state’s GOP establishment in recent years to drive a series of reforms through.

3) The Secret Service will show up at the house of the running mate.

The United States Secret Service has dispatched a protective detail to assume the immediate protection of Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., a source tells ABC News, indicating in all likelihood that Biden has been officially notified that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, has selected him to be his running mate.

These are unavoidable logistical decisions that are pretty tough to hide from the eyes of a curious public.

Tags: Joe Biden , John Edwards , Mitt Romney , Sarah Palin

John Edwards: One Not-Guilty Verdict; Jury Hung on Other Charges


The verdict is in for John Edwards: not guilty on one of the six counts against him; the jury is hung on the other five charges.

The judge has declared a mistrial.

Last week I chatted with Ana Marie Cox about the Edwards case over at the Guardian. While many bright minds make a strong argument that nothing Edwards did deserves to be prosecuted as a federal crime as the laws are currently written, I suspect federal prosecutors did not want this circumstance to go without legal consequence for Edwards.

If this sort of shenanigan — working around campaign-finance law by having no money pass through the campaign or the candidate — went entirely unprosecuted, it would be a safe bet that we would see similar versions in the future.

John Edwards needed money to get out of a jam and to help keep his campaign viable. In secret, he (allegedly) arranged for one of his wealthiest fans to give $900,000 to keep Rielle Hunter quiet and hidden. If a candidate can ask wealthy donors to help him out to the tune of six figures (or seven!) in a way that leaves no paperwork fingerprints or record with the FEC, then the door is open to functional bribery. This time it’s “pay this amount to help me hide my mistress,” next time it might be “pay this person to make a false accusation” or “pay this person to endorse me” or who knows what else.

Tags: John Edwards

Chatting John Edwards With Ana Marie Cox


Once again, it’s time for another chat with Ana Marie Cox over at the Guardian, this time focusing on the John Edwards trial. The great Mark Steyn offered a surprising and compelling argument against his prosecution here:

The great English jurist Lord Moulton considered the most important space in society to be the “middle land” between law and absolute freedom, in which the individual has to be “trusted to obey self-imposed law.” That is, a gentleman should not lie for political advantage about the paternity of his child. When he does so, it is a poor reflection on him and on those who colluded with him — the Democratic party and the media. What it is not is a crime. As bad as Edwards’s behavior is, the Justice Department’s is worse. The urge to ensnare in legalisms every aspect of human existence — including John Edwards’s rutting — will consume American liberty.

While I agree with the broad conclusion, I’m not so sure I’m comfortable with leaving this sort of shenanigan, working around campaign finance law by having no money pass through the campaign or the candidate – entirely un-prosecuted. John Edwards needed money to get out of a jam and to help keep his campaign viable. In secret, he (allegedly) arranged for one of his wealthiest fans to give $900,000 to keep  Rielle Hunter quiet and hidden.

If a candidate can ask wealthy donors to help him out to the tune of six-figures (or seven!) in a way that leaves no paperwork fingerprints or record with the FEC, then the door is open to functional bribery. This time it’s “pay this amount to help me hide my mistress,” next time it might be “pay this person to make a false accusation” or “pay this person to endorse me” or who knows what else.

Tags: John Edwards

Big Crowds at Iowa Campaign Events Mean . . . Nothing, Really.


Don’t put too much stock into crowd size as an indicator of momentum in Iowa. Looking back four years, we find . . .

December 31, 2007:

[John] Edwards, his wife, Elizabeth, and their three kids race around Iowa in a frenzied final campaign swing that takes him to many of the 99 counties of the state, he is drawing big crowds in spots like the Giggling Goat in Boone.

John Edwards’ finish: 29.7 percent of the vote, second place, barely ahead of Hillary, 8 points behind Barack Obama.

January 3, 2008:

Looking tired, but excited, Governor Bill Richardson was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd in Iowa City, capping off one more busy day in a busy year of campaigning.

Bill Richardson’s finish: 2.1 percent of the vote, fourth place. He dropped out January 10.

January 3, 2008:

At times uncharacteristically enthusiastic, [Fred] Thompson spoke optimistically about his positive momentum in the state. “The crowds have been better and better and better, and enthusiasm is building and building and building,” he told a crowd of about 200 at a hotel in West Des Moines. “We’re going to have a wonderful day and a wonderful night.”

Fred Thompson’s finish: 13.4 percent of the vote, third place.

It’s Iowa, the final days and hours before the caucus. Of course people will show up to see the candidate. That doesn’t mean that they’ll support that candidate in the caucuses!

Tags: Bill Richardson , Fred Thompson , John Edwards

We Never Really Know a Public Figure


In the first Morning Jolt of November 2011 . . .

Well, Herman Cain’s Name ID Issues Are a Thing of the Past

Do you know Herman Cain?

I don’t. I doubt you do, either. Even if you know him personally, you cannot know, with absolute certainty, what happened when he interacted with the employee who lodged a sexual harassment charge against him when he was CEO of the National Restaurant Association. You may think you know. You may feel you’ve spent enough time around him to be absolutely certain that he wouldn’t be capable of boorish or hostile or abusive behavior. Certainly, the vast majority of the people who have worked with him over the years have found him charming, warm and a perfect gentleman.

Except that I’ll bet that staffers and supporters of Mark Sanford didn’t see his scandal coming, either.

Sadly, excellence or high achievement or even high character in one aspect of one’s life does not guarantee high character in other aspects of life. Duke Cunningham was the lone flying ace from the Vietnam era, and one of the earliest graduates of Top Gun school. Throughout the 1990s, there were fewer House conservatives more well-liked. And he pled guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Rudy Giuliani was a fantastic mayor and a sterling leader in a crisi. He sounds like he was, at least in the past, an extraordinarily difficult husband.

So while we may like Herman Cain, and we may find the claims a bit sketchy, we cannot know that he did nothing wrong here.

There are some fans of Herman Cain who will be very, very bothered by the above statement. They’ll insist the charges are a smear. They may very well be a smear. The Politico story relied on unnamed sources, and the descriptions of the charges are vague, and corporate America’s Danegeld philosophy towards expensive lawsuits ensures that we can determine very little from the fact that there was a cash settlement involved.

But we don’t know that nothing happened. Yesterday morning, Cane’s chief of staff Mark Black offered the absolute, no exceptions, blanket denial that there was any harassment involved — and then in the same breath pleaded complete ignorance about any settlement in a harassment claim. In short, they are absolutely familiar with the charge and can deem it baseless, except that they don’t know anything about how it was handled. Less than reassuring.

From Cain’s account, the trigger for the complaint is baffling to the point of being nonsensical:

Van Susteren asked what Cain did that led to the accusation. There were reportedly more than one accusations in the complaint, but Cain said he recalled just one incident. “She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying — and I was standing close to her — and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife. And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, ‘My wife comes up to my chin.’” At that point, Cain gestured with his flattened palm near his chin. “And that was put in there [the complaint] as something that made her uncomfortable,” Cain said, “something that was in the sexual harassment charge.”

Van Susteren asked whether the woman complained at the time. “I can’t recall any comment that she made, positive or negative.”

Height comparisons? Is this some subtle form of flirtation? “You know, my wife comes up to here on me . . . if you know what I mean.” “You know what they say about tall men . . . they bump their heads a lot.”

Considering how the mainstream media ignored much more plausible reports about John Edwards for the duration of his 2008 campaign, the double standard is even more spectacularly egregious than usual. Glenn Reynolds asked: “Would Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman, Anna Palmer and Kenneth Vogel have put their names on a similar piece, with no named sources, aimed at Barack Obama? Would Politico have run it?”

Tags: Herman Cain , John Edwards

Coming Soon to a Courtroom Near You: Defendant John Edwards?


I stand by my position that anyone who voted for John Edwards should sit out the next election or two until they can account for how spectacularly they misjudged his character:

The United States Department of Justice has green-lighted the prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards for alleged violations of campaign laws while he tried to cover up an extra-marital affair, ABC News has learned.

A source close to the case said Edwards is aware that the government intends to seek an indictment and that the former senator from North Carolina is now considering his limited options. He could accept a plea bargain with prosecutors or face a potentially costly trial.

Edwards has been the focus of a lengthy federal investigation focusing on hundreds of thousands of dollars allegedly provided by two wealthy supporters. The government will contend those were illegal donations that ultimately went to support and seclude his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

I hope he knows a good trial lawyer.

Tags: John Edwards

‘We’ve Broken the Back of This Recession’? Really?


Should a president be bragging, with unemployment at 9.4 percent, that “we’ve broken the back of this recession“?

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week:

In December 2010, nonfarm payroll employment decreased in 35 states and the District of Columbia and increased in 15 states. The largest over-the-month employment decreases were in New York (-22,800), Minnesota (-22,400), Florida (-17,900), and Georgia (-17,500). The largest over-the-month per-centage decreases in employment occurred in Minnesota (-0.8 percent), Alabama and Hawaii (-0.7 percent each), and Delaware and Georgia (-0.5 percent each). The largest over-the-month increases in employment occurred in Texas (+20,000) and South Carolina (+9,000). The largest over-the-month percentage increases in employment were in Idaho (+0.6 percent), Montana and South Carolina (+0.5 percent each), and Alaska (+0.4 percent). Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 42 states and the District of Columbia and decreased in 8 states. The largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment was reported in the District of Columbia (+3.2 percent), followed by Texas (+2.3 percent), New Hampshire (+2.1 per-cent), North Dakota (+1.7 percent), and Massachusetts (+1.5 percent). The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in Nevada (-1.5 percent), followed by New Jersey (-0.8 percent), Missouri (-0.6 per-cent), and Rhode Island (-0.5 percent).

John Edwards famously promised that if John Kerry was elected, Christopher Reeve would rise and walk. Well, judging from the president’s comment, we’re witnessing something else with a “broken back” look pretty vigorous, durable, and tough . . .

Tags: Barack Obama , John Edwards

John Edwards, a Groundbreaking Innovator in Making Scandals Worse


In today’s Morning Jolt, a reexamination of a political figure that I suspect a lot of folks would like to never see again . . .

John Edwards Crosses Over to Beyond the Pale

I know some folks will look at any mention of John Edwards, and groan and skip ahead, or avert their eyes. Some will think that pointing to the National Enquirer report of his proposal to his former mistress  is somehow in bad taste, or taking glee in the misery that immersed a mourning family.

But I think the sordid tale of Edwards — and how the candidate keeps finding new ways to make it more sordid — is a powerful, useful teachable moment, to both sides of the aisle (although probably more to the Democrats than Republicans).

There’s a saying that when Republicans pick a presidential candidate, they fall in line; when Democrats pick a presidential candidate, they fall in love. The Edwards saga reminds us that while we may think we know the figures we vote for, support, donate to, and volunteer to help elect, we generally don’t really know them. You know your spouse, your family, and your friends. Beyond that, you know the face that someone presents to the world. There’s probably quite a bit of angst, or regret, or pain, or rage, or zaniness or obsessions or any one of a million quirks and traits and secrets behind your neighbor’s pleasant smile. This doesn’t mean that everyone’s a ticking time bomb; it just means we should be cautious before we put anybody up on a pedestal. This particularly applies to the realm of politics, a field that tends to attract the ambitious, the narcissistic, the power hungry, and those who find it hard to resist the notion that they’re “special” and that the rules don’t really apply to them.

I joke on Twitter that “anyone who voted for John Edwards should do penance for their bad judgment by staying home for the next three elections.” (Naturally, this brings out the usual suspects grinding their axes, ‘you should sit out for the rest of your life for voting for war criminal Chimpy McHitlerBuuuuush NEOCON NEOCON NEOCON’ etc.) And that notion doesn’t really apply to everyone who ever voted for Edwards, or everyone who voted for the Kerry-Edwards ticket in 2004. But there were grassroots Democrats, particularly in the 2004 and 2008 cycles, who watched Edwards, went to his rallies, met him, immersed themselves in the world of the candidate . . . and concluded, he was a great guy. They believed in him. They trusted him. They would have bet everything they own that he was a devoted husband and father. Heck, the Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council Inc. named him “Father of the Year” in 2007, while he was having his affair. I don’t know if they can get it back like Milli Vanilli’s Grammy, but you would like to think that after word of the Hunter affair came to light, and all of the awful details in Andrew Young’s book, they would have sat and pondered and examined how they could have so spectacularly misjudged the character of the man they chose to honor. Perhaps no quote sums up this man more than his remark complaining about “fat rednecks try to shove food down my face. I know I’m the people’s senator, but do I have to hang out with them?” He loathed the people he sought to lead.

When you misjudge somebody’s character so spectacularly, you don’t really have to stop voting for a few cycles. But you probably ought to reexamine what shaped that erroneous positive assessment. Is it that he told you what you wanted to hear? Were you, in retrospect, too easily impressed by emotional stories, or fake folksy charm? Did you associate the political positions you prefer with good character, when the connection between the two is often more tenuous than we would like to admit?

Tags: John Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards, RIP


RIP, Elizabeth Edwards.

There will be many days ahead to discuss the egregious actions and judgment of her husband. But today and tomorrow are not that day.

Tags: Elizabeth Edwards , John Edwards

How Did Richard Blumenthal Not End Up Making a Trip to Haiti?


Back in January, when Haiti was enduring the immediate crisis of the earthquake, former president Bill Clinton — i.e., the United Nations’ special envoy to Haiti — took time to head up to Massachusetts and appear at a rally for Martha Coakley; he told NRO’s Bob Costa that the aims of helping Coakley and helping Haiti were not mutually exclusive.

Now that everyone has questions about his role in the job offer to Sestak, Bill Clinton is off to Haiti and the Dominican Republic:

On Tuesday, June 1, President Clinton will travel to Haiti and visit Léogâne, where he will meet with UN Cluster Heads, UN agencies and community leaders.  He will then tour a temporary housing site.   Both are open to the press.

President Clinton will then travel to the Dominican Republic where he and Haitian Prime Minister, Jean Max Bellerive, will brief board representatives — including donors and Haitians — of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC). There will be a spray at the top.

On Wednesday, June 2, he will address the summit on Haiti, “Solidarity beyond the Crisis,” in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. His remarks are open press.

Great timing. Look, it’s not like every southern Democrat runs to Haiti when the public thinks they’ve caught them in a lie . . .

Tags: Bill Clinton , Joe Sestak , John Edwards

Dennis Quaid? Aaron Eckhart? Nah. This Part Was Meant for James Spader.


Two excerpts from this morning’s more-lengthy-than-usual Morning Jolt, which also covers the continuing brouhaha surrounding Michael Steele and recent polling about the Tea Party.

He Knows Dr. Strangelove Wasn’t a Documentary, Right?

The bar for the United States using nuclear weapons just got a little higher, but it was already pretty darn high. I’m more worried about the other guys’ bars: “For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.”

I hope any shift in our nuclear posture ends up being irrelevant; no atomic or nuclear weapons have been used in war since 1945, and hopefully we’ll keep that streak going in perpetuity. But like they say in those investment commercials, past performance does not guarantee future success. A few years ago, we found out Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist was practically selling do-it-yourself kits on E-Bay; today there’s a guy who keeps rambling about green auras who’s hell-bent on getting a nuke, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 12th imam. A lot of our friends on the left reflexively insist that Mahmound Ahmadinejad isn’t really in charge, but Iran’s political structure seems more complexly interwoven than the local rugs. Does anyone feel absolutely, 110 percent confident that if Iran built a nuclear weapon that they would never use it as an offensive weapon? Doesn’t that feel like betting the house on Tiger Woods’ future fidelity? One night Mahmoud has a weird dream, suddenly he’s building a mountain out of his rice like Richard Dreyfuss did with his mashed potatoes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and later that night he starts calling for the rockets to get fired up. I don’t want sunny optimism and hoping for the best in my nuclear/chem/bio deterrent policy. Who’s running our nuclear program these days, Pollyanna?

And a note from the closing thought, since I’m wondering if readers agree . . .

ADDENDA: A movie based on Andrew Young’s tell-all book, detailing how he helped John Edwards cover up his mistress and daughter? I suppose that movie could be entertaining, if the makers were willing to pull no punches and if they knew what they wanted to say. Joe Klein’s Primary Colors has the Bill Clinton stand-in committing statutory rape with one of his best friend’s daughters, and has the Hillary stand-in solely concerned with the political fallout. Klein probably meant the whole thing as a love letter to leaders who accept no limits or some nonsense, but unwittingly showcased the narcissism, raw hunger for power, callousness and casual cruelty that seemed to define the 1990s-era Clintons. (Looking back, how did John Travolta not get an Oscar and/or Arkancided? His Jack Stanton mannerisms cut deeper than even Phil Hartman’s impression.)

The Edwards/Hunter scandal is more than a year old, and to this day, I still want to walk up to Edwards supporters and cheerfully exclaim, “boy, you really picked a colossal @$#%^, didn’t you? And you were completely convinced that this pathological liar was a good husband and father. Hey, how’s about you never cast a ballot again and we’ll call it even, huh?” If the moviemakers had the guts to tell the audience that all the big speeches, all the showy photo ops in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, all the showy fuming at all the right causes and all the teary sit-down interviews holding hands with the wife mean absolutely nothing, and are meaningless for evaluating the character of a man who aims to be president, then it will be worthwhile. Then again, it might hit a little too close to some nerves . . . 

And as I suggested in the headline, nobody plays self-destructive sexual obsessions and false charisma that’s oilier than the Exxon Valdez better than James Spader.

Tags: Barack Obama , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

With Fundraising Like That, He’s a Merchant of Toom


Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . For Pennsylvania’s incumbent senator, of Brett Favrian decisiveness in party loyalty, Toomsday creeps ever closer.

Conservative Republican Pat Toomey raised $2.3 million in the 1st quarter of 2010, marking his U.S. Senate campaign’s most successful fundraising quarter to date. That leaves the former congressman with over $4 million cash in hand.

“I have been the number one fundraiser among all senate challenger candidates in the country.” Toomey told Fox News.

Don’t brag too much, Pat. You do have the advantage of running against Arlen Specter.

(Having said that, I notice he advertises on NRO. Maybe every candidate ought to do that.)

Tags: Barack Obama , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Nevadans Can Tell Him ‘Good Night’ and Have a Pleasant Tomorrow


This just handed to me: Harry Reid’s reelection chances, like Generalissimo Francisco Franco, are still dead.

Tags: Barack Obama , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Your Special House Election Calendar


There are four special elections for the House of Representatives coming up.

The first is a week from tomorrow in Florida’s 19th congressional district, a heavily Democratic seat that was occupied by Robert Wexler. I took a look at Democratic candidate Ted Deutch and his fair-weather support for Israel here; the Republican candidate is Ed Lynch.

On May 11, Georgia holds a special election in the 9th congressional district to fill out the remainder of Nathan Deal’s term. This is a heavily Republican district, with a mere 11 GOP candidates and a lone Democrat who has raised a little over $10,000. All candidates will run on a single ballot on this date; if any candidate receives a majority (50 percent plus 1) of the vote, that candidate is elected. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will participate in a June 8 runoff.

On May 18, Pennsylvania holds a special election to fill out the remainder of John Murtha’s term in the 12th district, as well as a primary for November’s election for a full term. I examined the Democratic candidate, controversy-plagued Murtha aide Mark Critz, here; the Republican candidate is Tim Burns.

May 22 is the deadline to turn in mailed ballots in Hawaii’s special election in its 1st district. I took a look at Honolulu city councilman Charles Djou and his two Democratic rivals here.

And then there’s New York’s 29th district, until recently represented by the temperamental tickler, Democrat Eric Massa. Now it appears that New York’s finances and politics are so epically botched that the state may not have a special election to replace him, and may simply let that district go without representation for three-quarters of a year. Here’s one local Democrat’s assessment:

One Democrat who’s not running for the congressional seat, Cattaraugus County Legislature Minority Leader Mark Ward of Great Valley, said he’s got mixed emotions about the special election.

“It’s going to cost us over $90,000, and over $1 million across the district,” Mr. Ward said. “The fact is soon after a special election, Congress would break for the summer. You’d have a rookie coming in – probably from the minority party – with Democratic majority in both the House and Senate. I’m not sure it’s worth that expenditure – not when there’s another election in November. If we didn’t have to pay the money, I’d say sure.”

Ah, the modern Democratic philosophy: Representation is important . . . unless, you know, it’s expensive.

Tags: Barack Obama , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Another House Democrat Considering Switching Parties?


I managed to grab lunch at the Hilton Head First Monday Republican Lunch Group, a group I’ve addressed twice before, and probably will at some point in the coming months. The turnout today was easily double what I had seen in the past, with an overflow room. Some of the turnout might be because the five candidates for state education superintendent appeared, but the Hilton Head Republican Club president – a.k.a. “Dad” — tells me that turnout has steadily increased in the past year.

A few weeks back I noted a good 80 House races with either an open seat or a plausibly vulnerable Democrat incumbent. Hilton Head Island is Joe Wilson’s district, where Democrats continue to flush millions of dollars on a Democratic challenger who just picked up the endorsement of Larry Flynt. But there are three races on that list within a short drive: South Carolina incumbent John Spratt, and two Georgia Democrats who have hung on for many narrow wins – John Barrow and Jim Marshall.

Mick Mulvaney appears to be the most likely candidate to take on Spratt, and several folks at lunch said they would be volunteering for him.

Marshall’s district has a Cook Partisan Voting Index score of R+10, and he’s tried to protect himself by voting against cap-and-trade, S-CHIP expansion, and the health-care bill. But he did vote for the stimulus, and he hasn’t faced an environment like this.

Meanwhile, Barrow has a Democratic primary challenger hitting him from the left and five Republicans aiming to knock him off this year. Now Robert Stacy McCain offers this interesting tidbit about Barrow:

Some Georgia Republicans now believe that the Democrat may be contemplating a switch to the GOP, which would set up a divisive situation much like that in Alabama’s 5th District, where national Republican support for party-switcher Parker Griffith has enraged grassroots GOP activists.

Tags: Barack Obama , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Potential Campaign Slogan: Quit Complaining, Most of You Still Have Jobs


Gerry Connolly, the Democratic congressman who represents the “most affluent” district in the country in northern Virginia is “running scared” after the health-care vote, according to AOL. With a few heavily gerrymandered exceptions, if he’s running scared, how do you think the rest of the House Democrats who voted for it feel?

Tags: Barack Obama , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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