John Edwards: Far From Georgetown Today

Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and family leave their home on P Street in Georgetown, one block from Sen. John Kerry's house, July 6, 2004, to join Kerry for the vice-presidential pick announcement.
Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and family leave their home on P Street in Georgetown, one block from Sen. John Kerry's house, July 6, 2004, to join Kerry for the vice-presidential pick announcement.

For John Edwards, former senator from North Carolina and John Kerry's vice presidential candidate, and for Georgetown, eight years ago was a heady time. That summer's campaign saw not one but two Georgetowners running for national office against President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Kerry, who still lives on the 3300 block of O Street with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, had found a running mate exactly one block north on P Street.

Here's how a September 2004 article in the Los Angeles Times put it:

"For the first time in American history, both members of the Democratic Party's presidential ticket live in Georgetown -- Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in the 3300 block of O Street in a $4.7-million home owned in the 19th century by the minister to the Russian czar; North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in the 3300 block of P Street in a $3.8-mansion with a 20th century pedigree for the society entertaining that characterized the Kennedy era.

'This promises to be 1960 all over again,' cooed the Georgetowner, a must-read throwaway for area residents, in an editorial after presidential hopeful Kerry named Edwards as his running mate. 'And if the dynamic duo should happen to win, well, if you were waiting for real-estate prices to come down in Georgetown, forgeddaboutit.' "

Well, the president got re-elected, and Edwards began preparations for his 2008 campaign to seek the presidency a second time. A star in his party, he seemed blessed with people skills, good looks, an easy-going speaking style and a common touch. He sold his P Street house -- bought in 2002 for $3.8 million -- in December 2006 for $5.2 million and left Georgetown and D.C.

That stately P Street home has its tales to tell: a 19th-century home to a relative of Francis Scott Key, John J. Key of Kentucky, it is best known for its parties and events by Polly Fritchey, a major arts patroness and influencer along with her friends Katharine Graham, Lorraine Cooper, Pamela Harriman, Evangeline Bruce, Polly Kraft and Susan Mary Alsop. Fritchey died ten years ago.

That was then, and today John Edwards is on trial in Greensboro, N.C., for alleged illegal campaign contributions. Almost one million dollars were supposedly used to cover up his affair and support his mistress and illegitimate child, while his wife suffered (and later died) from cancer.

The state capital's Raleigh News & Observer views the story of its former senator from North Carolina and trial lawyer known for his malpractice cases as a modern-day Greek tragedy:

"John Edwards, the former Democratic U.S. senator and presidential candidate whose descent from the heights of politics was faster and deeper than his quick ascent, is at the center of a criminal trial that will follow a story of sex, political conniving, vast wealth and personal betrayals."

Edwards is being castigated for lying, philandering and worse; he is also being prosecuted under campaign-finance laws that some argue do not require a clear quid-pro-quo connection.

"It was hard to find the right buyer," W. Ted Gossett, the Edwards' real estate agent, told the Washington Post at the time of the P Street house sale in 2006. And it is hard to find that once promising candidate for those who supported Edwards betrayed by the false one today.

Edwards waved to well-wishers as he walked down the steps of his P Street home on a sunny, July day. While he and we did not know it, he was at his zenith as a man in the public eye. The summer of 2004 in Georgetown seems so long ago and far away.

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Fri, 26 May 2017 09:03:12 -0400

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