John Edwards’s Goody-Two-Shoe Politics


EXETER, NEW HAMPSHIRE—On the stump at an Exeter town meeting last night, North Carolina senior senator John Edwards told the Voice he would not accept a vice presidential nomination (video).

Edwards rushed from Iowa to New Hampshire and back yesterday, trying to fan the fires of his campaign, which has been in doldrums for months. Some 300 people packed the Exeter Town Hall for the meeting. Edwards’s staff whooped and hollered in the background to make it look and sound like New Hampshire citizens were wild and crazy for the North Carolinian. In fact, they were polite, skeptical, and reserved in their judgment.

Edwards told them how he had vanquished Jesse Helms’s powerful machine in North Carolina, and said eliminating the two Americas—one rich and one poor—was a “moral” imperative. He spoke of race as a decisive factor in American politics, and proudly asserted that he had beaten down the lobbyists in Washington. He came out against war profiteering in Iraq. All the while he stabbed the air like Bill Clinton, talked of the “Politics of Hope,” and even occasionally sounded like a halfway populist. He drew applause when he attacked credit card companies for their phony advertising. But his solution went only half-way: Rather than ban the ads, he would require fuller disclosure in larger typeface.

Despite his even-handed and often laudable positions on issues of the day, Edwards frequently descended into the muck of goody-two-shoe political slop—for instance, telling the crowd he has never taken a dime from lobbyists. To demonstrate what a tough guy he is, Edwards reminisced about his valiant effort to save the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by voting against the anti-flag-burning amendment, even though he risked alienating his North Carolina constituency.

When asked by the Voice if he would consider running as a vice presidential candidate, Edwards looked at the camera and smiled: “No, ma’am.”

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