Published: Aug 13, 2008 07:09 AM
Modified: Aug 13, 2008 07:09 AM
Edwards: Pride before the fall
What are we going to do with John Edwards?By owning up to cheating on his cancer-stricken wife (sorry, there's no sugar-coating that) Edwards all but ensured two things:1. His political career is over, at least for the foreseeable future. 2. Without D.C. beckoning, chances are he's going to remain our neighbor for a good long while. If Elizabeth doesn't kick him out of their Old Greensboro Road mansion, that is.On the first point, it's not entirely clear what kind of political career he had left anyway, as Edwards himself told ABC's Bob Woodruff in a "Nightline" interview Friday night.His star had fallen pretty low by the time he told Woodruff he had sex with a campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter, who received more than $100,000 for four short Web videos. He had run for president twice but didn't come close to securing his party's nomination either time. His bid for vice president also failed. His best hope was a Cabinet post in an Obama administration, which of course is out of the question at this point.The affair, which he stone-faced lied about for months, merely turned damaged goods into spoiled goods.So he's stuck here. Is there a place for Edwards to pursue a truncated version of public life in Chapel Hill?It's hard to envision him picking up where he left off working at the UNC Center on Poverty. He'd be too much of a distraction. Plus, the recent news of him dumping a scholarship program after a few years in existence raises questions about his commitment to the cause.Protecting the environment is a stated goal Edwards shared with the university and local political leadership. Perhaps he could get involved, quietly at first, with efforts to, say, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Orange County.But then he'd face year-old questions about how someone living in a 10,400-square-foot house can be taken seriously when he urges others to simplify their lives.See a pattern?Edwards has been accused of hypocrisy for much of his political career. The one facet that appeared to be beyond even his critics' reproach was his family life. Now, that's down the tubes, too.Edwards said pride got him into this mess. He was referring to the affair, but he just as easily could have been referring to the downward trajectory of his career, as many said he should have built a record to run on before seeking the nation's highest office.With his credibility shot, perhaps now it's time for Edwards to start, quietly, building a record of action. He should work behind the scenes with groups focused on the issues he said he cared about. Doing good without sending out a press release would go a long way toward convincing people that Edwards' earnestness wasn't -- or at least wasn't always -- an act.Edwards says he's been brought low. For a while, he should stay that way.
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2008 The Chapel Hill News