Who Is Trashing John Edwards?

Sid Blumenthal In The Conservatory With A Filmmaker?
Let’s review a few basic facts here, folks.
1. John Edwards has no realistic prospect of winning the 2008 Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton has 20+ point leads in numerous polls, and if by some chance she should stumble irreparably, Barack Obama would take her place.
2. Edwards is also unlikely to run again for public office. In other words, other than the sheer joy of taking down the smug poseur, Republicans have basically no motive to expend energy digging up dirt for a hit job on Edwards, much less one that could blow up in their faces.
3. The GOP presidential campaigns do have their hands full right now with each other, as both Fred and Rudy have serious chances to win the nomination, Romney has an outside shot, and the other campaigns are battling to stay relevant. If a Republican did have personal dirt on Edwards, now would not be a useful time to unload it.
4. Edwards is, however, importantly positioned in one respect: in Iowa, the first Democratic primary/caucus and the only one where Hillary lacks a large lead, he has around 20-25% of the vote, nearly even with Hillary and Obama, as a result of having campaigned there pretty much continuously for five years. Obama’s wife has conceded that if Hillary wins Iowa, the race is effectively over; if Obama wins, that could force Hillary into a much tougher primary campaign and potentially drain her war chest and alienate key constituencies. Thus, both candidates have a motive to want Edwards out of the way so they can go after the voters who have been long committed to Edwards.
Why do I bring all this up? Because there is a particularly nasty piece of work being floated around about Edwards – and there is every reason to believe that it is being driven by the Clinton or Obama camps. And given that this bears all the hallmarks of Clinton politics (recall that a similar hit job was perpetrated by Clinton ally Wes Clark during the 2004 primaries), my money would be on the Hillary folks. The media should be sure to press both campaigns to go on the record as to their involvement.

Here’s the deal: the National Enquirer is retailing a story of Edwards supposedly cheating on his cancer-stricken wife with a filmmaker who was paid a lot of money by the Edwards campaign for work that never saw the light of day. The Huffington Post is likewise pushing the filmmaker angle as a “questions are being raised” story without explicitly mentioning the alleged affair. As with the Kerry story in 2004, the tale is plausible enough that it is of course possible that it is true, but the nature of the disclosures so far – and their sourcing – are more suggestive of a political hit piece that can’t be verified but also can’t be denied by Edwards without giving the whole ball of mud some credence.
So if it’s a politically motivated hit job, and the people who logically stand to benefit are Hillary and Obama, that’s where the media should be looking for the cuprits (Mickey Kaus seems to agree). In fact, a story of marital infidelity would play to Hillary’s strong suit, the wave of sympathy for her as the wronged woman that was crucial to her initial election to the Senate in 2000. A look at the people holding the knife may be in order – Kaus has been arguing for months that the Enquirer may be motivated to make nice with Clinton ally Ron Burkle, still mentioned as recently as July as a potential purchaser of the tabloid. And the HuffPo, being the HuffPo, presumably isn’t getting its information from right-wingers. At a guess, other than the absence of a Josh Marshall post, this has all the hallmarks of a Sid Blumenthal operation.
The Clinton camp being as skilled as it is at this type of politics, we will probably never get to the bottom of who is behind this story. But it would be nice if the media actually tried to find out.

16 thoughts on “Who Is Trashing John Edwards?”

  1. I’m assuming the story itself is bogus unless and until I see more credible sourcing. But I do take the existence of the story seriously, and that’s what I’m focusing on here.

  2. It reaks of Clinton. If so, I doubt this is focused solely on Iowa. Edward’s political career is likely wrapped with this race. I’d take it as a threat not to go down swinging, or else…

  3. Crank,
    You’re a one issue pony. All you really care about is abortion, which should be a Presidential non-issue.
    Why don’t you focus on a REAL issue, like what happens if Rudy gets the GOP nod and REFUSES to back off his Pro-Choice stance?
    Will a rogue candidate from your beloved party come forward to woo “One Issue” voters like yourself?
    I hope this last thing comes true, so you and your fellow Catholic and/or Fundamentalist drones can make this whole election moot (barring Republican cheating like in Florida 2000 or Ohio 2004) and virtually give the White House to Hillary.
    All for an issue that has nothing to do with you or your gender, and probably says more about deep-seeded projection of unresolved sexual issues than anything else…

  4. In knocking around a couple other sites I have honestly been surprised at how much Giuliani’s stance on abortion could drive this election. It seems there are more people out there that simply will not vote for him as they view him as pro-choice. Hater, Crank here has put himself at least mildly into the Giuliani corner so far so that would seem to dispel the one-issue item with him. Nonetheless I have been surprised at what the reaction out there in Crazy GOP land is to Giuliani and abortion. It’s not as if I don’t realize this is a big topic in general but it seems over the top at this point. BTW if there was a Dem candidate that I was solidly for, believed in and thought could win a general election for Pres. yet they were not pro-choice I would still vote for them since I don’t see it as a big Presidential issue.

  5. In a better world, neither the President nor anybody else in the federal government would have a thing to do with abortion. It was the Supreme Court that took it out of the hands of the states, and it’s the person who appoints the Justices who has to fix that.
    That said, I think Rudy has made pretty clear that he will apoint good Justices, and he’s committed not to change the Hyde Amendment, and I can make my peace with him doing nothing else on abortion.

  6. In a better world, neither the President nor anybody else in the federal government would have a thing to do with abortion.
    Oh, Crank. The Big Lie returns. I recall a number of debates last year and earlier where you, LargeBill, MaddIrish and others debated with me as to what anti-abortion warriors would do if all power to decide the abortion question accreted back to “the states,” and –gasp! — some of “the states” opted to keep abortion legal.
    As New York, California, and many others would surely do.
    All three of you, and others, essentially admitted you’d still fight to see abortion made illegal in all fifty states. Remember?
    Although I vehemently disagree with you guys regarding your obsession with this issue, you’d at least be honest if you stopped blathering on-and-on about the bogus “states right” angle.
    You think abortion is wrong and you’ll never support it. Fine. Just say it and leave the irrelevant federalism issues out of the discussion. You’ll feel better knower you’re being honest.

  7. All three of you, and others, essentially admitted you’d still fight to see abortion made illegal in all fifty states. Remember?
    It depends on what they meant by “fight.” I’d fight it as well, but not through the federal government. I’d want to see the states themselves prohibit it, and I’d do whatever I could to make that happen. But I’m not going to argue for a constitutional amendment, nor am I going to pretend that the constitution prohibits abortion.

  8. Mike:
    The issue here is that this is an issue that should be decided legislatively. And as long as there is a court ruling setting precedence which states that there is a constitutional right to abortion, there’s no legislative recourse short of constitutional amendment.
    So the states’ rights issue is important here. I (and a lot of other pro-lifers) are willing to accept legal abortion if it reflects the prevailing mood of the country. But there’s no way to know what the country’s mood is as long as it’s kept in the Judiciary.

  9. I (and a lot of other [anti-abortion warriors]) are willing to accept legal abortion if it reflects the prevailing mood of the country.
    Joel, I’ll respectfully call bullshit on you. If the Supreme Court were to overrule Wade/Casey, and 25 of the states were to LEGISLATIVELY permit abortion within those states, you & others of your stripe would then let out a cry so loud that the unborn would hear it.
    And to whom would this cry go out? To the Supreme Court, of course, begging Nino Scalia & his fellow Warriors to step in and declare abortion illegal. Judicially. I admit you’d prefer to do it via Amendment, but you don’t have the votes to do so. So you’d do what everyone always does — whether liberal or conservative, republican or democrat — you’d go to the Court.
    Nothing you tell me that says otherwise registers as anything but a bald-faced lie.

  10. https://thephoenix.com/article_ektid36346.aspx
    Based on the lawsuit described in the Boston Phoenix article linked above, the Clintons would be insane to introduce sexual encounters and Ronald Burkle into this campaign.
    The article describes how free lance writer Jared Paul Stern sued both Burkle and the Clintons after he was lured into an FBI sting operation and accused of blackmailing Burkle. Stern had been writing unfavorable stories about the defendants with a promise of more to come.
    I do wonder how the FBI got so excited about what turned out to be a non-existent blackmail scheme (could a former US President and a sitting NY Senator called in a few favors).
    The juiciest line of the complaint is that “Burkle and Bill Clinton spend upwards of 500 hours a year together, more time than Clinton spends with his wife. Bill Clinton frequently flies on Burkle’s jet and stays at his houses in the company of young females procured by the billionaire.”
    Wow — now do you still think Hillary decided to play to the zipper card?

  11. Mike, you are flat wrong on that, and should not call people liars without a basis. Sure, somebody on the Right would probably try to get the matter resolved judicially, but the vast majority of us, including (undoubtedly) the conservatives on the Court, would reject that effort. I could say you are lying by claiming otherwise, but I assume you are instead simply mistaken.
    The issue should be decided democratically. The states are the logical place to do that, not federal legislation, since abortion is mainly outside the scope of the federal government’s current Constitutional powers and was traditionally a province of the States. Would I support a Constitutional amendment? Sure. One would not pass without broad, sustained, national democratic support anyway. But I regard that as unlikely, and at a minimum a very long way away. For the foreseeable future the issue will be federal courts vs. state legislatures. I side with the people.

  12. Patrick – You assume that Bill’s cheating hurts Hillary. I’m not so sure of that. Certainly in 2000 there is every indication that it made her a sympathetic figure.

  13. Crank, if that’s how you feel then I stand corrected. Though I distinctly remember you, LargeBill & a few others saying otherwise . . .
    But if you’ve changed your mind, good to see. And you know that New York would be one of the states that would keep abortion legal. You’re ok with that? You’d simply accept the will of the people of the state of New York and let the issue rest?

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