It’s always a solemn occasion when The Scrapbook finds John Edwards back in the news. At this point, the stories are less a reminder of the former senator and vice-presidential candidate’s odious conduct than fresh evidence that there’s no Democratic rehabilitation project the media won’t enthusiastically undertake. The Washington Post Magazine recently decided to profile Cate Edwards, John’s daughter. Certainly, Cate has had her own ordeal and shouldn’t be blamed for the sins of her father, right?
In a word, yes. But there is one small matter that bears mentioning. Cate is a Harvard Law grad who’s just hung out her own shingle. “In November, she turned her two-lawyer firm in Dupont Circle into the Washington office of Edwards Kirby, the elder Edwards’s attempt to relaunch the trade that made him famous. (In his first trial after renewing his license, completed last month, he helped win a $13 million settlement in a personal injury case.)” That’s right—Cate Edwards has just gone into business with her father, and the Washington Post has just published what amounts to a glossy advertisement for their new firm. And you’ll be glad to learn that working with her father provides “Cate more latitude in pursuing their public interest cases: individual civil rights, whistleblower and sexual-orientation matters.”
How credulous is the Post? “Both father and daughter say the idea of working together gradually emerged. . . . Each has an affinity for civil cases that champion the proletariat, and the self-description of Cate’s boutique firm might have been lifted from the early days of her father’s work: ‘representing regular, working people . . . and giv[ing] them a level playing field in the law,’ ” notes the Post.
Using the phrase “champion the proletariat” unironically in any context is enough to make a well-adjusted reader recoil; using it to describe the legal profession is doubly questionable; and using it to sum up the self-described altruistic motivations of John Edwards is deeply lacking in self-awareness.
Then there’s the article’s unfortunate attempts to portray Cate Edwards as just your average young lawyer. “Given her privileged start in life, Cate Edwards is pretty low-key. Yes, she bought her $1.3 million home while still in law school, but she doesn’t come off as upper-crust.” Well, it’s good to know she’s just like the proletariat she likes to champion. If you skip ahead a couple of sentences, you get a few more clues about her regular, working-people lifestyle. “She and [husband] Trevor have Luca, an Italian water dog, and a Vespa. At dinner at Il Canale in Georgetown, they are a fun couple.” Nope, she’s not giving off any “upper crust” vibes at all.
And yet, the Post proceeds blithely, recapping John Edwards’s cretinous behavior in the broadest possible terms, and with nary an unflattering or critical word offered. An unflinching article about Cate Edwards’s relationship with her troubled father might be worth reading. A glowing article about how big things are ahead for a family of socially progressive and fantastically wealthy personal injury attorneys is an affront.
The Scrapbook would be remiss if we didn’t mention the article’s denouement. There’s a description of John Edwards embracing his daughter, accompanied by the final line, “Perhaps in family, as in love, as it was, so it remains.” The editors at the Washington Post owe an apology to any reader with a functioning gag reflex.