Now, of course, this doesn't mean that he doesn't care about poverty, and there's certainly nothing wrong with making money. He launched his fortune as an ambulance-chasing lawyer, after all, so he's good at convincing people, starting with himself, that he's on the side of the angels. But the story he tells to prove he's not a hypocrite is typically phony. For example, his 2004 presidential campaign highlighted the humble little house he led people to believe he grew up in. But the small home touted in commercials was Edwards' residence until he reached the ripe old age of 1. Then, his father the mill worker was promoted to management and the family moved into a more expensive home that never appeared in his campaign ads.
It's not that Edwards is a liar, it's that he's a toothy door-to-door salesman, seemingly hawking the issues when he's really just hawking himself.
When Edwards was preparing for his first run for president, he struck the pose of a Southern moderate. The National Journal noted that his voting record set him "comfortably apart from Senate liberals." Now that he's out of office - it's doubtful that he could have won reelection - he's recast himself as the election season's premier anti-warrior. Last week, Edwards gave a major foreign policy speech in which he ridiculed the very idea of a "war on terror" as nothing more than a "bumper sticker slogan." Of course, until recently, he had no problem with the concept. As Sen. John Kerry's running mate, he campaigned on the claim that Iraq was distracting us from the real war on terror. Before that, he recanted his vote in favor of the Iraq war.
In his new book, Shrum says that Edwards voted for the war not because the Bush administration misled him but because his spin doctors did. Edwards denies this, but even in the recent South Carolina Democratic debate, he confessed that the lesson he learned from his vote is that he needs "to put more faith in my own judgment."
That's a convenient position for a man who seems to really believe only in one thing: himself.