Watching Edwards's Trial, Kerry Must Be Thinking, 'What the Hell Was I Thinking?'

Monday, May 7, 2012

John Kerry and John Edwards had close to zero chemistry in 2004 when they ran for president and vice president.

In each other’s presence, their body language was stilted, their banter forced.   Their obligatory expressions of mutual admiration on the stump were as convincing as the performance of a junior high kid forced to perform in a class play. 

Once that mismatch became apparent, like about a week after the Democratic convention, their handlers kept them apart on the campaign trail as much as feasible.

“To the end of their disappointing run,” the New York Times recalled, “the two men were unable to agree on the script, whether for slogans or more substantive matters.  And like so many political marriages, the one between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards – Senate colleagues who became rivals then running mates but never really friends – ended in recrimination and regrets.”  (“For Edwards, a Marriage Made in Politics That Never Quite Fit,” 11/21/2007.)

If the naturally reserved Ivy Leaguer from Massachusetts failed to find a soul mate in the ebullient malpractice lawyer from North Carolina, what did he find?  I wonder.

I wonder, for instance, if John Kerry ever saw the hypocritical, raging narcissist within John Edwards.

If that sounds extreme, you haven’t been following the accounts out of North Carolina, where Edwards is on trial in federal court, charged with six felonies related to his alleged misuse of campaign funds to care for his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and the out-of-wedlock child he fathered by her.   

You haven’t given much thought to how Edwards charmed millions in campaign donations from Listerine heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, age 101, and then allegedly used a big chunk of the so-called “Bunny Money” to set up his mistress in a life of luxury.

You haven’t read the testimony by the wife of Edwards’s former top aide, Cheri Young, a woman who told how Edwards asked her to participate in a cover-up of his affair and paternity of the child, how he appealed to her sense of patriotism, of all things, and how he gave her a pep talk and said it would be “good for America” if she helped him win the presidency.  All she had to do was go along with the ruse that her husband, not Edwards, was the father of Hunter’s baby.

If Edwards is convicted, he could be sent to prison for as long 30 years and fined up to $1.5 million.

I do not take much away from John Kerry, whose courage, intelligence and dedication to public service cannot honestly be disputed, when I say he is no better than average at spotting a con man.

My guess is that, for the rest of his life, Kerry will try to avoid thinking about those statements he made that every presidential nominee makes; you know, the ones about selecting his vice presidential running mate based on that person’s ability to step into the presidency at a moment’s notice if, God forbid, the worst should happen.

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