With John Edwards withdrawing from the race, I think it’s important to take note of something sort of extraordinary: he’s leaving with his reputation not only intact, but actually enhanced.
When you think about it that almost never happens. Today, we tend to be a one shot society politically — hell, in every respect, really. But sticking with politics, look at the tattered bodies scattered across the field of honor: Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John Kerry, Bob Dole, Joe Lieberman (please try not to cry for poor Joe), Michael Dukakis and so many more. All were once serious presidential candidates, people given a real chance of winning, and all suffered damage to their public reputations, in some cases severe damage, as a result of running for and losing the presidency.
But not so John Edwards. Edwards leaves the race, if anything, more highly regarded by the Democratic rank and file than he was before. He remains a viable political figure.
Why? It’s about running and also losing with grace, I think. It’s about running on the side of the poor and the working class, instead of just trying to pile up huge mounds of cash from special interests. It’s about running on issues that matter, rather than personalities and negative imagery.
I’m showing my age here, but I remember reading a book (when it was new) written by Alistair Cooke 30 years ago, titled Six Men. It was made up of a series of short biographies of six men Cooke had known in his life who had a great impact on him, one of whom was Adlai Stevenson. He said at the end of the chapter on Stevenson, as I recall — and this isn’t an exact quote — that there are sometimes honorable reasons for someone not becoming the President of the United States.
John Edwards may never be president, but by conducting his campaign with honor he’s left both the Democratic Party and the nation at least a little better off for his having tried.
Thank you, John. We here at The Last Chance Democracy Café wish you and your family the very best.