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Jewish World Review
June 8, 2011
6 Sivan, 5771
Is it illegal to be a pig?
John Edwards is a beast. He cheated on his wife, told many lies and used political contributions — or gifts, depending on your point of view — to cover up those lies. He now has been indicted on six felony counts, including accepting illegal campaign contributions totaling $925,000, filing false statements about them and conspiracy.
He could be sentenced to prison for up to 30 years and made to pay a fine of $1.5 million.
Bill Clinton also once was a beast. He cheated on his wife, told many lies and was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice by the House of Representatives. But he was acquitted by the Senate and left office with the highest approval rating — 66 percent — of any president since World War II.
The point being that you can be a cur one day and top dog the next.
In the case of Edwards, I don’t think I have ever seen a criminal indictment met with such derision by the media. In story after story, the government’s case has been attacked as being weak, vindictive and unnecessary.
The headlines included:
POLITICO: “Edwards Case May Be Tough to Prove”
The Boston Globe: “Prosecutors Face Tough Task in Edwards Case”
OpEdNews: “The John Edwards Case; Justice or Personal Vendetta?”
Last Friday, The Washington Post ran a news story announcing Edwards’s indictment, stating in the first paragraph that Edwards was undergoing “a stunning fall from grace.”
But in the second paragraph, the story said experts consider the government’s case “unprecedented” and “weak.”
The third paragraph contained a memorable quote: “‘It’s not illegal to be a pig,’ said Brett Kappel, a Washington campaign finance expert who has worked for Republicans and Democrats.”
On the very same day, The Washington Post ran an editorial attacking the indictment, headlined: “The Questionable Legal Case Against John Edwards.”
Edwards had accepted large payments from two friends, but, according to the editorial, there “is scant evidence that Mr. Edwards understood the payments to be campaign contributions.”
How do we know this? The chief witness against Edwards is Andrew Young, a former campaign aide who is an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. An unindicted co-conspirator is sometimes a person who rats out someone else in order to save his own neck (or, in the case of Richard Nixon, just a rat).
In his book about Edwards, Young wrote that the payments were “gifts, entirely proper and not subject to campaign finance laws.” Young also claimed, at least for a while, to be the father of Edwards’s and Rielle Hunter’s baby.
Young also said on “Good Morning America” that he had a sex tape of Edwards and Hunter and that he had been offered a “gigantic” amount of money for it, but that it wasn’t for sale.
I predict that if it is played in court, however, the TV ratings are going to surpass those of O.J.’s trial.
Young might not make a terrific witness, but he is not the only witness the government has. There are the two people who actually gave the $925,000 to Edwards.
Except that one is currently dead, and the other is 100 years old.
If John Edwards knowingly lied in documents to the Federal Election Commission, that would be perjury. But he says he didn’t knowingly lie.
On the day the indictment was handed up, Edwards said he would “regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I’ve caused to others. But I did not break the law, and I never, ever thought that I was breaking the law.”
Oh, Johnny, we hardly knew ye. The very first campaign trip I took for POLITICO, before we had even started publishing, was in late December 2006, when I went down to New Orleans to watch Edwards announce his candidacy for president. He stood in the muddy backyard of a flood-ravaged home in the Lower Ninth Ward.
He said a lot of things about war and peace and poverty and the two Americas of the haves and have-nots. It was very, very good stuff. This was a man who knew how to wow a crowd. “I think it’s also really important that we be honest with people,” he said simply.
His wife, Elizabeth, was not at the announcement. His lover, Rielle, was there, shooting video. A short time later, John would tell Elizabeth of his affair. The news made her cry, scream and throw up. “I wanted him to be faithful to me,” Elizabeth would later tell Oprah. “It was enormously important to me.” But Elizabeth agreed to keep the affair a secret so her husband could become president.
That was not to be, and four years later, Elizabeth would die of complications from her breast cancer. Her family, including John, was at her bedside. Were there last words between them? We do not know. Perhaps he told her he loved her. Perhaps he meant it. Perhaps she believed him.
John Edwards does sincerity very, very well. His next act may be to jurors. And I’ll bet you he wows them.
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