Only John Kerry can save John Edwards now. Will he? It depends on who is telling the truth.
I am not an Edwards fan. However, I admire the way he has resolutely refused to exploit the death of his son Wade. Now a new book by Democratic political operative Bob Shrum tells an ugly, ugly tale. My former Phoenix colleague Michael Crowley of The New Republic finds (sub. req.) the relevant excerpt, involving the period when Kerry was considering Edwards as his running mate:
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 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. Kerry said he found it chilling, and he decided he couldn’t pick Edwards unless he met with him again.
Crowley does point out that there is some circumstantial evidence to suggest Shrum’s devastating tale may not be true, writing, “When I asked one person close to Edwards about it, he argued that Shrum’s account makes no sense because Edwards had publicly recounted similar versions of the funeral home story before — and thus wouldn’t possibly have claimed on either occasion that he was telling it for the first time.”
Fair enough. But what gives this legs is that Kerry — who, after all, isn’t running for anything — now has the power to make or break Edwards. If Kerry denies it in firm, straightforward language, then the Edwards campaign survives, and Shrum will henceforth be known not just as a loser, but as a liar as well. But if Kerry confirms it, or refuses to discuss it, then Edwards might as well pull out.
By the way, if Kerry does confirm it, why on earth did he go ahead and put Edwards on the ticket?
Oh, and another thing — Edwards may not be all that big on gays and lesbians, either.