I see where John Edwards’ defenders against yesterday’s New York Times story on his anti-poverty foundation — see Ezra Klein and Steven White are coming from — there’s nothing very scandalous here. In particular, there’s nothing at all here that’s scandalous if you’re an even mildly cynical political sophisticate, since it was always clear if you were paying attention that Edwards’ outfit existed, in part, to test the viability of a 2008 presidential bid.
The story does, however, highlight that the flipside of the Edwards campaign’s heavy focus on policy has been that it’s been unusually light on narrative. Edwards standard pitch doesn’t much of a story about his personal and political evolution over the past three or four years which is a situation that sets himself up for various charges of being a phony. Most people I know — myself included — don’t really care about “authenticity” in this sense and are much more interested in the policy agenda Edwards has adopted than the precise question of why he’s adopted it. But, of course, politics doesn’t work that way and lots of people do want at least a veneer of authenticity. This strikes me as a problem that’s pretty easy to address, but it’ll have to be addressed.