I was recently headed to Raleigh for a business venture when I noticed that former North Carolina Senator John Edwards was awaiting the same flight.
Yes, Edwards was at Philadelphia International Airport riding coach on Delta. No, there was no massive security or attention. In fact, nobody actually noticed him.
Sitting slouched in the terminal, his once admirable movie star looks and charm were replaced with a now sunken glare and a noticeable round potbelly. His luggage wasn’t fancy, nor was his demeanor.
Edwards, who ran for President in 2008, now looked like a Chevy Chase/National Lampoon-type of dad. It was almost alarming that nobody recognized him. I gave him a subtle wave and he exchanged a hesitant grin. It was very clear that he didn’t want any type of attention and I almost had to Google why.
I’m 24, so forgive my youthfulness, but my heart almost dropped. A highly publicized affair, a love child conceived while still married to a cancer-stricken wife, and political money pay-off accusations is what made the once leading Democrat a dismissed party embarrassment. Eight years ago, this man was a rock star that could have ran this country. Now he’s trying as much as possible to avoid the public.
When I see how the rest of society has forgotten Edwards, I think about the upcoming trials and tribulations of our current local elected officials and wonder if the same treatment is in sight for them. In an election year that’s just as competitive as 2008, it’s almost impossible not to follow the headlines of now indicted Congressman Chaka Fattah who is being charged for bribery, money laundering, and bank fraud. The Feds’ thorough investigation of Fattah’s political finances shouldn’t be taken as a minor infraction. He can seriously go to prison and our city will lose another once respected Democrat, again.
The nature of politics in this age of new information and technology is haunting. As Edwards got off the flight in North Carolina, only a few more people began to murmur. It was his home state, so of course he would be recognized. But nobody went up to him; only whispers.
I felt bad for him.
I finally convinced myself that it might stroke his ego a little if I asked for a selfie. He acted as though he was too disheveled to engage, and swiftly declined. It was very clear that public shame had taken its toll on the man once praised for calling the country out on its class division. The face-to-face viewing of a man who was once in the spotlight and now discarded as a pariah was a scary sight to see.
Will that be the same fate for Fattah by the end of the year? Will another elected official in this town go from hero to zero? May the tale of John Edwards stand as an Ides of March for some of the political ambitious egos who want to now take over.