I’m not above guilty-pleasure reading, but I had no idea how filthy “The Politician” by Andrew Young would make me feel–and I ate up every second of it. Andrew Young was the aide de camp to John Edwards for over a decade. He saw Edwards rocket to political fame, almost become vice-president, almost become president, and he witnessed the Reille Hunter scandal firsthand, even taking the blame for the Edwards love child and giong on the lamb from reporters.
This is exactly one of those stories that is so salacious, so unbelievable, so cinematic, so cliched that if John Grisham had written it, you’d ridicule him for his lack of originality. Young’s self-righteous narration mostly ignores the fact that he was complicit in and an enabler of Edwards’ shockingly brazen behavior. As he struggles to stay out of jail, it’s instructive to get a first-hand account of Edwards’ laser-like narcissism.
I remember so well during the 2008 Democratic primary, many of my progressive friends rejected the Obama-Clinton imbroglio and hopped on the Edwards bandwagon because he was the true liberal in the race. Nothing in “The Politician” leads one to believe Edwards was ever anything more than a slick huckster who was taking positions per political expediency. A centrist in ’04, a fire-breathing lefty in ’08, a rich, pretty guy with no intellectual heft riding around on private jets, collecting millions of dollars for speaking about poverty.
Edwards is not only offensive as a guy who cheated on his wife while she had cancer but offensive as a man who thought he could actually be president when he so clearly was in it for the self-aggrandizement. The takeaway of “The Politician” is that Edwards cared precious little for the actual policy positions he claimed to be “fighting for.”
Unfortunately, I’m also pretty sure that Edwards represents the sad truth of any democratic system: that the people attracted to running for office are driven to do so by all the qualities that make them poor choices to hold those offices. We see this in Weinergate recently. The risks people are willing to take in their private lives reflect the risk that is entering politics in the first place.
But whatever, man–let’s get the film version cranking.
Word on the street is that Aaron Sorkin will make his directorial debut on the film, which means prepare for all the characters to talk like Aaron Sorkin. Still, there’s so much rich psychological nuttbaggery going on in this sordid tale, I really don’t see how it could fail.