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The tyranny of inequality

A recurring question has surfaced among the talking heads (over-)eulogizing Elizabeth Edwards: Why didn’t she run for public office?

She was certainly more likable than her husband and every bit as accomplished. But she was born in the 40s. In the South. Becoming president, senator or even governor was not a realistic goal. If you wanted political influence, best get hitched to the BMOC. Obviously she could have done better.

Inequality shallows the pool. We get *John Edwards when we could’ve had Elizabeth Anania. That’s not to say she would’ve made a great president, and, like 99.9 percent of us, she was no saint. She was a politician, and saints don’t enter politics.

But she was impressive. I admired her refusal to embrace the cult of the victim so ably exploited by another prominent female politician — one who had the good fortune of being born 15 years later.

*I’ve been criticized for piling on John Edwards, although I have to question anyone who wastes sympathy on a creep who abandoned his cancer-stricken partner in favor of a spiteful bimbo.

(“After learning who [Edwards] was, she gave her business card to one of Edwards’ aides. “It said, ‘Rielle Hunter. Being is free.’ “)


As revealing as that affair was, this anecdote, from veteran Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, says even more about the shallow character of John Edwards.

Kerry talked with several potential picks, including Gephardt and Edwards. He was comfortable after his conversations with Gephardt, but even queasier about Edwards after they met. Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he’d never told anyone else—that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he’d do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade’s ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before—and with the same preface, that he’d never shared the memory with anyone else.

I’ve yet to hear any rebuttals. Shrum has his agendas, but, considering the subject, are you surprised?


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