The Edwards Irrelevance

The former N.C. senator's time has passed.


John Edwards, the former Democratic senator from North Carolina, vice presidential nominee, and—briefly this year—presidential aspirant, is playing games with his preference for his party's nomination. Truth be told, it really doesn't matter at this late hour.

Edwards holds a meager handful of pledged delegates, and even they can act as free agents at the convention in Denver. Perhaps Edwards simply wants to hear his name placed in nomination so he can speak at the convention.

As an admitted supporter of Edwards long before this marathon started in Iowa, I was quickly disappointed as the large field of candidates debated frequently on cable TV.

Edwards's brand of southern populism turned more strident in the debates. He ran aggressively against Washington, painting himself as an outsider who wanted to change everything about the capital city.

Columnist Jules Witcover wrote as long ago as October that Edwards had transformed himself from "a cuddly puppy in 2004 to attack dog in 2008." The Edwards strategy was aimed mainly at Sen. Hillary Clinton, the then front-runner. Edwards ripped her as hostage to all the terrible problems in Washington.

Since Edwards bowed out of the race, he has been silent on the sidelines as Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama engaged in their long battle. He refrained from any endorsement until last week, or did he?

Appearing on a morning television show, Edwards was asked his preference in the North Carolina primary. He said something like "em" and it was interpreted by many as "him"—a bow to Obama. But he and friends said it was "them" and that he is still neutral.

All of this funny game playing came as former Edwards campaign manger David Bonior and several superdelegates declared for Obama. A few Clinton supporters even defected to the Obama camp.

It matters little now what Edwards does. He's waited too long and is irrelevant to the decision.