Born Edwin Edwards, the former governor who spent 99 months as a guest of the state for racketeering related to his terms in office, although not for activities while as governor, when queried by the media neither confirmed nor denied that he would run. If it will help the media, I also neither confirm nor deny that I will run for that office as well. You can quote me on that.
That he would have no chance to win, absent the introduction of live boys or dead girls, should go without saying, but I find it necessary to write it and why. True, if announced gubernatorial candidate state Rep. John Bel Edwards swapped his first and middle names for “Edwin Washington” he’d get more votes without doing a lick of campaigning than he’s likely to if he follows through vigorously with his promise to run in 2015.
But aside from these low information, yellow dog Democrat mossbacks and believers in the Tooth Fairy, would anybody seriously vote for a felon who would be (if he lives until then, and hopefully in good health) 88 years old on his inauguration (and almost 43 years after his last term in the House)? That would make him the fourth oldest Member of the House ever, and the two oldest at the time they were 88 had 16 and 10 previous terms consecutively in office (and the third would happen if he makes it through his current term, having spent the last 57 years in office).
And does anybody seriously thinks that he’s going to engage in the active campaigning required even to be competitive when (as was evident when he dropped in at the Louisiana Political Science Association annual meeting a couple of years back) he needs some assistance from his younger wife just to get around? Or that he’ll get the organizational support needed when Democrat activists and donors know that any hopes of future wins for federal office in the state hinge upon new blood?
Maybe there are a few deluded out there who actually deny these verities, but surely Edwards is not one of them. While a fair amount of self-deception comes part and parcel with many politicians, Edwards’ track record of success shows he doesn’t live disconnected entirely from reality. He knows he’d have no chance and would not waste his time or effort in chasing something that provided no political payoff, exemplified by when he dropped his reelection bid in 1987 after polling behind his successor former Gov. Buddy Roemer in order to enhance his chances of recapturing the job four years later.
Yet he delights in keeping tongues wagging about the possibility – for the same reason Roemer last year ran in a quixotic quest for the presidency, with an affliction that especially grips Louisiana politicians who when relatively young reach relatively high office. Simply, they love the attention. They love having people talk about them, telling them they’re what’s needed, asking their opinions, handing them donations, and granting them all sorts of privileges. It’s an intoxication that seems sweeter the longer the hangover of having essentially no political power lasts. Their big egos that assist in running successfully for high office especially make them miss it all.
In Edwards’ case, perhaps his run-in with reality television, in the form of the series about his and his wife’s efforts to have (by any means medically necessary) a child, that went out with a whimper only fuels the fire more. Ironically a pioneer of electronic media use in campaigning, critics tended to think that Edwards in the airwave bust appeared as someone feeling trapped in a world he never made, and getting people to talk about him seriously regarding an endeavor that speaks to how he regards his own self-worth even where he cannot be seriously considered might salve whatever wounds of morale came from that televised abomination.
Perhaps a final piece of the puzzle to explain his coyness comes courtesy of the website that launched media interest, with The Hayride’s report of the seeking of an Edwards candidacy. It speculates further that this may be an attempt to translate interest in that into a candidacy of state Rep. Clay Schexnayder. As far-fetched as that would appear as a strategy to garner interest in a right-leaning district for a Republican candidate, that does make more sense than Edwards actually going through with it.
While narcissism defines Edwards, it does not blind him so that he would think he could get political mileage out of running again for anything, because he cannot win. Because then the media would stop writing stories about him running for something, and not being thought of and treated as an important man relevant to today’s political world is something with which he cannot abide.