The recent death of Leona Helmsley calls to mind her reputation as the "queen of mean" and her famous statement, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." While comparisons between Mrs. Helmsley and a current, female presidential candidate are inevitable, her words also remind one of a male entrant from North Carolina. And it is the contention here that Hillary Clinton and John Edwards belong together.
His actions in the past few years prove that there really are two Americas; one for those who are John Edwards, and the other for those who are not. As oxymorons go, trial-lawyer/populist has to be one of the most amusing. As we know, Edwards has had a wee bit of trouble passing himself off as a champion of the poor; what with his $400 hair-stylings, his new $6 million estate, and his various sources of income, the latest of which seems to cast him as a coldhearted landlord.
Just last week, the New York Post reported, "The populist candidate -- who has denounced such lenders -- invested $16 million of his $30 million in assets in Fortress Investment Group. The Wall Street Journal reported that 34 New Orleans homeowners struggling to overcome Katrina's aftermath faced foreclosure suits from subprime-lending units of Fortress."
Now, most folks shouldn't be expected to know every company held by their hedge funds -- unless, of course, they're Republicans -- nor is it illegal or immoral for such companies to foreclose. But for big-government liberals like Edwards, condemning such entities is their lifeblood. Indeed, in April he proposed legislation to rein in what he called "shameful lending practices" in New Orleans and elsewhere.
But Edwards' involvement with Fortress is more than just an investment role; last year he received nearly $500K in salary from Fortress for "part-time" work. You may remember that he said he took this position in order to learn about poverty. When asked why, he answered, "How else would I have done it?" The lessons must have worked, because when further pressed he concluded, "It was primarily to learn, but making money was a good thing, too."
And he must have been a really good cubicle buddy too. MSN Money reports that, "According to Federal Election Commission records, Fortress employed more of Edwards' campaign donors than any other company, with combined contributions of nearly $125,000 in the first quarter. Fortress also hosted a fundraiser for Edwards in March that garnered him more than $1 million."
Johnny Reid Edwards is a natural as Mrs. Clinton's running mate. They're both great investors who'll suffer anything to gain more riches in order to help the poor. He's even taken on her favorite foe, criticizing Rupert Murdoch and other tools of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: "the time has come for Democrats to stop pretending to be friends with the very people who demonize the Democratic Party." Except that the time was not ripe in 2004 when he received over $800K for a book deal from Harper Collins, a subsidiary of Murdoch's News Corp.
But, like Hillary and her husband, Edwards knows how to turn lemons into lemonade: apologize, then moralize. Two years ago, when he apologized for voting for the Iraq War Resolution he co-sponsored, he went on the attack, writing in the Washington Post: "The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth."
And if Hillary doubts the sincerity of her future veep, she can ask John Kerry about bringing Edwards on board. An excerpt from Bob Shrum's book, No Excuses, explains:
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.But I encourage Clinton to go right ahead and make the same prudent judgment John Kerry did. After all, she and Edwards have so much in common. Their investment savvy aside, they have to be the most duped duo in the history of presidential politics. After all, Hill was apparently duped for years by her philandering husband, and they were both duped into voting for the war; she by President Bush and he by Shrum.
And Edwards, it seems, was further duped by Fortress Investment Group; so much so, that he was prompted to pompously declare in a tone worth of Mrs. Helmsley, "I will not have my family's money involved in these firms that are foreclosing on people in New Orleans." Leona Helmsley ended up in the Big House for such superciliousness, but in the case of Clinton and Edwards, it may lead them to the White House.
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