And finally, he spoke.
After months of silence, of letting his lawyers speak, John Edwards stood outside the federal courthouse in Greensboro, beneficiary of an acquittal on one charge and a jury hung on five other counts. And he spoke.
For four minutes and 38 seconds, he tried to take responsibility and be humble. But bless his heart, sometimes he couldn’t help himself.
“This is about me…There is no one else responsible for my sins.”
He’s right, of course, on both counts. For at least the past 14 years, when he entered politics as a novice who rarely voted and emerged almost instantly as a (gulp) presidential candidate, it has been about him. By his own accounts, he became convinced he could do no wrong. And so he did plenty.
But he gets points for fessing up, and not blaming Andrew Young, George Holding or the National Enquirer. No matter how weird or reprehensible things got with the adoring aide, Young didn’t cook up the scheme to hide Rielle Hunter, the boss’ girlfriend who was with child, on his own.
On to his parents:
“I love them so much and they did a wonderful job raising me.”
Wallace and Bobbie Edwards get a lot of credit for sticking by their son during the trial. They trudged in, slightly bent, every day. And they did their best raising him, but I’m thinking they could have done without being dragged into the quasi mea culpa.
To his children, one in particular:
“My precious Quinn, who I love more than any of you can ever imagine.”
This had to be as tricky for Edwards as any phrase in any closing argument he ever gave, and he might have been the best trial lawyer this side of Matlock. If he doesn’t address the child he fathered with Hunter as his dying wife battled breast cancer, she grows up with a bigger stigma attached to her. But however sincere his feelings for the child, it felt forced and icky.
And then to the favorite topic of every politician everywhere, the itty-bitty children:
“I don’t think God’s through with me…all those kids that I’ve seen in the poorest parts of this country and the poorest places in the world, I’m hopeful that I can help them.”
I’m thinking God isn’t through with any of us (though that means some of us should be ready to duck). But this may well be Edwards’ best path to redemption. His globe-trotting to poor lands was good for the cameras, but it also likely stuck with him, as it would have any of us.
Lord knows there’s plenty of need. And that oversized mansion near Chapel Hill would look great as an orphanage, the gym great as a school.