- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2007

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards has forfeited his Iowa lead to Hillary Clinton, according to the latest compilation of polls by RealClearPolitics. In New Hampshire, Mr. Edwards trails her by more than 20 points. Nationally, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, he’s treading water at 10 percent, trailing Mrs. Clinton by 32 points. The unraveling of Mr. Edwards‘ campaign probably explains his increasingly hyperbolic forays into crank populism. How else to explain his imbecilic rant on CNN following Rupert Murdoch’s bid to purchase the Wall Street Journal: “I don’t want to see Rupert Murdoch — or anybody else for that matter — owning every newspaper in America,” Mr. Edwards blathered.

Meanwhile, bordering on paranoia, the Edwards campaign now seems convinced that it is the target of a right-wing-media witch hunt. The press office has been stonewalling legitimate journalistic inquiries about the eye-popping $800,000 that HarperCollins, a subsidiary of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp., gave to Mr. Edwards in two separate advances of $500,000 and $300,000 in 2005 for a third-rate coffee-table book called “Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives.” No other publisher would touch it. As expected, the book had lousy sales.

Mr. Edwards has demanded that all other Democratic presidential candidates return contributions given to them by News Corp. employees, but he refuses to give back a dime of his own sweetheart advances. Referring only to the $500,000 advance and completely ignoring the $300,000 check, portions of which went to his daughter and his deputy campaign manager (and the campaign refuses to say how much), Mr. Edwards told CNN, “Every dime of the money they gave to me has gone to charity.” Even here, his campaign has refused to produce the checks proving things. In any event, with income-yielding assets reportedly in the range of $30 million, Mr. Edwards probably found himself in a high tax bracket. A $500,000 charitable contribution would generate huge tax savings that dwarf the collective contributions to other candidates by News Corp. employees.

Moreover, one of the charities is College for Everyone, which Mr. Edwards established in 2005 and has been relentlessly touting on the campaign trail ever since. It forms the central plank of his “college opportunity agenda,” according to a May 11 press release on his Web site. In a July 16 interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” just as in nearly all his domestic-policy speeches, he bragged about College for Everyone. “Elizabeth [his wife] and I started it, raised the money privately,” he told ABC’s Diane Sawyer. But his campaign refuses to say how much of the $500,000 from HarperCollins went to College for Everyone. It appears that Mr. Murdoch, whom Mr. Edwards has relentlessly demonized, may have been the sugar daddy financing College for Everyone. That would make Mr. Edwards the presidential campaign’s biggest hypocrite and one of America’s biggest ingrates.