The Twilight of John Edwards

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As the trial of disgraced former Senator John Edwards begins today, The Washington Post has the must-read piece on what his life has become: a sad, single father, alone with his regrets.

Reporter Michael Leahy paints a melancholy portrait, built mostly around the stories of a close Edwards' friend, one of the few left that will actually spend time with him. Lawyer Glenn Bergenfield says that Edwards spends most of his time alone in the North Carolina house filled with memories of his now deceased wife, Elizabeth. He has his two youngest children with him, but other than taking them to school and softball games he has little reason to leave the house. On the rare occasions when he does go out, he has to put up with stares and even hissing from residents of his hometown who have shunned him. He keeps in touch with the mother of his "other child," the one born from the affair that ruined him, but he rarely sees her. Other than his attorneys few people visit. Scenes of his pathetic isolation play out like this poignant image from a daughter's softball game.

“Afterward, he was just standing there by himself. Emma grabbed his arm and said, ‘Dad, we gotta get in line and sign up.’ It was like juice-box sign-up or something; every parent had to bring juice boxes. John just got in line.”

No matter what happens with the charges he faces for breaking campaign finance laws it's hard to imagine a punishment harsher or more fitting than the one described in this story. His friend says he wishes Edwards could go back to his true talent, lawyering, but it's hard to imagine anyone picking Edwards to represent them in court. He's lost his friends and his reputation, but still can't figure out why he, among so many other philandering politicians, has been rejected so harshly. Unfortunately, he'll find few people who sympathize with his plight. His only hope is that a few of them find a way onto his jury. As a former supporter (who says he was duped by Edward's lies) puts it, “Does a sorry person get convicted just because he’s a sorry person?” We'll soon find out.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.