The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down by Andrew Young
That long title you just read is the best part of this account. Trust me on this. You should only read this book if you love sleazy things. In fact, you should only read it if you’d jump into a 400 gallon vat of sleaze, if such a thing existed.
“…I had time to reflect on my experience with a most charismatic and deceptive politician and the factors that made me vulnerable to his spell.”
Sigh. Vulnerable to the spells and charms of John Edwards? Yes, that’s how tacky this true tale is. The author is John Edwards’ well-educated aide (we know he’s well educated because he tells us so several times throughout the account), who assisted him at almost every step of his public and private deceptions. This Andrew Young – a law school graduate and not the civil rights leader – told the media that he was the father of the child that Edwards had with his mistress. Young then suffered mightily having to live with Edwards’ mistress in a $20,000 per month rental mega-mansion in Montecito – which is the Ritziest part of Santa Barbara County. Sad, isn’t it? Such virtually unimaginable suffering.
And how did Edwards acquire the funds to support the mistress and Young and his family? By telling heiress Bunny Mellon that they were using her millions to fund a poverty center based at the University of North Carolina. See what I mean about the sleaze?
What we do know is that the author told lies on his master’s behalf for months and years, and in order to believe the truthfulness of this account, you would have to believe that he’s telling “the truth and nothing but the truth” now. Uh, huh. Right.
“Barring a sudden surge of honesty, the only way we were going to get out of our commitment would be if Mrs. Edwards died.”
Nobody comes off well in this account, not Young, not Edwards – which is hardly a surprise – and certainly not Elizabeth Edwards. In fact, Young’s primary agenda here seems to be trashing her reputation. Elizabeth is portrayed not as a spurned and loyal woman who was admired by millions of Americans, stricken by disease, but as a… Well, I don’t need to say it.
I did appreciate one matter substantiated by Young, that Mr. Edwards sought to pattern himself after Robert Kennedy, but his act always seemed – to me – like a very bad actor’s version of RFK (left hand in jacket pocket, right hand stroking the air, combing his hair or fixing his tie). At one point, Edwards goes on a retreat and Young notices that every one of the books that our once self-anointed president-in-training took with him was either written by Robert Kennedy or was about RFK. But then Young gets some very basic things wrong. For example, at one point someone refers to Edwards as the Robert Redford of politics, and Young writes that the reference was to Redford as The Natural. Not at all, the reference was to Redford in the film The Candidate, about the photogenic candidate who gets elected to the U. S. Senate and then asks the question of his staff, “What do we do now?” The comment was likely meant to depict Edwards as an empty suit.
As the son of a preacher man, Young never gets around to identifying the message in this sad morality play. And it’s a play that has not finished its run yet (Is Edwards going to marry his mistress and the mother of his baby? Will he be charged with crimes?). But let’s be clear about this… This account by Andrew Young is not in any way equivalent to John Dean’s Blind Faith. Young is no hero. John Dean helped to rid the country of a cancer on the presidency. Young did his best, his very best, to put John Edwards in the White House.
Review by Joseph Arellano. This book was purchased by the reviewer, unfortunately.