The Corner

A Crook as the Face of the Democratic Party

By the standards the establishment media set in covering Todd Akin in 2012 and Christine O’Donnell in 2010, the new national face of the Democratic party should be an 87-year-old, crude, crass crook who sold snake oil to his state’s poor while leaving them impoverished. 

In an action of gobsmocking amorality, the Louisiana Democratic Party officially has endorsed the felonious former governor Edwin Edwards for Congress in Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District. This was not a reluctant acceptance of a popular vote, mind you, but a deliberate choice by the party’s state committee, even though two other Democrats are running in the jungle primary and the party was not obliged to weigh in at all. 

Just a few weeks ago, writing for the daily Advocate (Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette), I had blasted the state Democratic Party for not explicitly renouncing Edwards’ candidacy; the idea that the Democrats would actually embrace him, in an official capacity rather than tacitly, barely even crossed my mind. One would think that even a state party so widely considered corrupt, and now badly weakened, would want to avoid confirming its own ethical blindness. But no: State Democratic vice chairman  Shane Riddle pronounced himself “impressed” by the “energy” of the Edwards campaign.

Edwin Edwards is no ordinary corner-cutting politician; he’s an extraordinarily cold-hearted, self-enriching “grifter” who is “repugnant” and merits “revulsion.” That’s not a Republican’s judgment; that assessment comes from Bob Mann, a highly partisan, longtime Louisiana Democratic operative who now teaches at LSU and writes columns for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Mann, an astute analyst, also has written this year of the “Shakespearean proportions of [Edwards’] corruption and his profound moral failings.” And: “On balance, Edwin Edwards left the state in worse shape than he found it.”

As I recounted all too briefly in my column a few weeks back, Edwards’s long list of unethical activity is nearly mind-boggling. As far back as 1971, he was helping a shady South Korean rice broker gain business while Edwards’s wife was accepting $10,000 in cash from the man. By Edwards’s standards, the recently convicted Bob McDonnell of Virginia was a saint.

And how crude? While serving as a “celebrity guest bartender” in the French Quarter during a 1991 campaign, Edwards spent much of the time trying to hit on two attractive blondes. Suddenly leaving his post and marching out with his handlers, Edwards was asked by a bystander why he was leaving so early, before his scheduled guest-bartender time was up. “I have to leave now,” he responded, in his signature accent, distinctly Cajun but with the words oddly clipped. Tilting his head towards the blondes, he added: “If I stayed any longer, I’d be tempted to f*** somebody.”

Well, now he’s back from eight years in federal prison, and he’s out to do the same to voters around Baton Rouge. And the Louisiana Democratic Party wants to help pimp him out. How tawdry.

In 2012, almost every Republican candidate was pressed by the establishment media to disassociate himself from Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. By those standards, the media at the very least should demand a statement from Louisiana’s U.S. senator Mary Landrieu about her party’s endorsement of Edwards. National Democratic Party chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz also should be asked to face the music.

They should be forced to denounce the crook. It’s important.

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