Right about now, John Edwards must be wishing he had never set foot in New York.
The big city clearly has a bad effect on this son of a mill worker. And we’re not talking get-barred-from-Le-Baron-for-sassing-the-doorman bad. No, this is more of a couldn’t-keep-his-knickers-on-back-when-he-was-a-married-presidential-wannabe bad.
Edwards, you may recall, made the acquaintance of Rielle Hunter—arguably among the most disastrous hotel-bar hook-ups of modern times—while staying at a New York hotel in the course of a 2006 cross-country speaking tour.
Now come a report from veteran New York reporter Murray Weiss alleging more frisky hotel business. As part of its multiyear probe of Anna Gristina, the tabloid-dubbed “Soccer Mom Madam” arrested last month for allegedly running a $15 million high-end call-girl ring on the Upper East Side, Weiss reports that the Manhattan DA’s office interviewed a prostitute in 2008 who claimed to have conducted a bit of business with Edwards at a posh Upper East Side hotel the previous year. Investigators found the woman’s detailed description of the encounter credible enough to warrant follow-up digging—in the course of which they determined that Edwards had been fundraising in the city on the night in question.
Just hours after the story of Edwards’s alleged call-girl connection hit the Web, his attorneys went ballistic: denying the woman’s story, demanding a retraction, and making not-so-subtle threats against all those who dare repeat the charges. Intimidating stuff.
Of course, we’re talking about a man whose current legal troubles stem from his beyond-the-pale efforts to conceal an affair, and then, after that came out, continued to dissemble about the daughter that affair produced. At the least, the DNA Info report must be awkward for a guy awaiting trial on federal charges that he used campaign cash to keep his mistress and love-child under wraps.
I find it unnerving that a man this reckless, this self-indulgent, this irretrievably stupid came within a thousand miles of occupying the White House. Imagine if Ohio had gone blue in 2004. If being a failed VP candidate turned Edwards into a narcissistic fool, what would winning have done to him?
After reading Weiss’s report, it's hard not to flash from the ring’s $1,000 an hour basic service—prices went up from there—to the $400 haircut. Wwe once thought indulgence captured the candidate’s habit of treating his presidential odyssey as a gaudy opportunity to gratify an overweening ego. It turned out that his hair was the least of it.
Not that a fondness for hookers necessarily suggests a man is otherwise corrupt—just ask Eliot Spitzer. Then again, his name has also come up in connection with the ring. His madame, Kirstin Davis, wrote in the Daily Caller that a booker who worked for both her and Gristina “told me that Eliot Spitzer had tipped off Gristina” about law-enforcement heat. Spitzer denied this, with a spokesperson for the former governor telling Fox Nation that “these assertions are totally untrue and the claim that he violated an ongoing investigation is outrageous.”
I’ve written and reported aplenty about testosterone poisoning and the brain-melting effect success has on men when it comes to sex. I’ve talked to cheaters and cheatees, political aides and spin doctors. I’ve quizzed researchers about the chemistry, the psychology, the evolutionary biology. I get the whole alpha male, master-of-the-universe phenomenon. I really do.
In Johnny Reid’s case, there also seems to be a bit of small-town-boy-can’t-handle-the-big-leagues at play. On the national stage, he went a little crazy and wound up damaging pretty much everyone around him.
At some point, the senator clearly took that whole business about “eight million stories in the naked city” far too literally—and as some sort of personal challenge.