Devil in the Details

John Edwards Pop Quiz

1. John Edwards' father worked:

    a) in a paper mill

    b) in a textile mill

    c) for General Mills

    d) as a research assistant to C. Wright Mills

2. In 1997, Edwards won a $25 million verdict for a girl injured by:

    a) a NASCAR driver

    b) a faulty swimming-pool drain

    c) a super-sized burger

    d) Jesse Helms

3. Four Trials is:

    a) the attorneys' version of the Passover Seder

    b) a 1981 Lina Wertmuller movie

    c) John Edwards' biography about his legal career

    d) the in-development story of Martha Stewart
    and her investment adviser, Peter Bacanovic

4. Edwards was born in:

    a) Seneca, South Carolina

    b) Robbins, North Carolina

    c) Nashville, Tennessee

    d) Raleigh, North Carolina

5. How old is Edwards?

    a) 51

    b) 41

    c) 31

    d) 21

6. What sport(s) did Edwards letter in during high school?

    a) football

    b) football and track

    c) football, basketball, track, and tennis

    d) curling

7. Who is John Wagner?

    a) Robert Wagner's younger brother

    b) the (Raleigh) News & Observer reporter who trailed Edwards during the primaries and now works as a Washington Post state political reporter

    c) the five-time groom and senator from Virginia

    d) a comic-book artist notorious for drawing the character of a homicidal Ecstasy user in the Batman series

8. Edwards was the first person in his family to go to college, where he studied:

    a) television sportscasting -- go Wolfpack!

    b) English literature -- reading To Kill a Mockingbird inspired him to study the law

    c) textile management -- in case that whole law thing didn't work out

    d) politics -- of course

9. What college did Edwards attend?

    a) Clemson University

    b) North Carolina State University

    c) Duke University

    d) Robbins Community College

10. Edwards was one of the first trial lawyers in Raleigh to use:

    a) the forgotten North Carolina legal precedent laid out in Kuyendall v.
    Tri-State Lumber Co.

    b) hair gel

    c) focus groups

    d) writs of mandamus

11. In late 1999, Edwards threatened to hold up Senate proceedings until he secured:

    a) $250 million in disaster aid for his state after Hurricane Floyd

    b) $13 million to modernize Cameron Indoor Stadium, basketball home of the Duke Blue Devils

    c) a tennis date with Evan Bayh

    d) a pledge from Trent Lott to lift the hold on Edwards' amendment placing terra-cotta tiles under WTO protection

12. How old was Edwards at the time John Kerry said his veep pick-to-be was “still in diapers”?

    a) 2

    b) 6

    c) 11

    d) 16

13. One of the following did not get a detail-oriented policy treatment from the Edwards campaign during the 2004 primary. It was:

    a) the dire need of rural Latinos for telemedical translating services

    b) the problem of runoff waste emitted by gigantic, corporate hog farms

    c) the fight over clashing window-trim colors in historic Charleston

    d) false postmark dates on credit-card payments

14. John Edwards is:

    a) “floppy-haired”

    b) “chocolate-haired”

    c) “thick-haired”

    d) all of the above, according to news reports

15. As with most Democrats, health care is a top priority for Edwards.
He's proposed spending $30 million to increase awareness of:

    a) chicken pox

    b) malaria

    c) periodontal disease

    d) Dorian Gray syndrome

16. Edwards inspires in John Kerry feelings of:

    a) collegial affection

    b) fraternal affection

    c) maternal affection

    d) confidence about November

(See bottom of Web page for answers.)
--Garance Franke-Ruta

After Kerry, The Deluge
Massachusetts Democrats sure would love for one of their own to move into the White House next January -- but they don't want to lose a seat in the closely divided U.S. Senate to a Republican for the first time in a quarter-century as a result. That may well happen, however, if Kerry is elected president this November.

Back in early March, when it became clear that Kerry would win the Democratic nomination, state Representative William Straus and state Senator Brian Joyce, Democrats both, filed legislation that would strip Republican Governor Mitt Romney of his power to fill the Senate seat Kerry would vacate if victorious in November. The new legislation called for a special election to be held within a few months of a Kerry victory.

Romney and Republicans complained that the bill would destabilize the constitutional balance (and Lord knows what else). Democrats blamed Republicans for attempting to stifle the will of the people; more than two-thirds of Massachusetts residents polled by the Boston Herald said they'd rather pick a new senator than have the governor appoint one on their behalf. Republicans accused Democrats of exploiting their majority status to smother Massachusetts' already asthmatic GOP.

The bill passed in early July, but instead of vetoing it (Democrats would have been able to override his veto anyway), Romney sent it back to the Legislature with a compromise amendment: Massachusetts would hold a special election soon after the seat becomes vacant, but Romney would be able to appoint a senator during the interim period. Romney's compromise would give the “incumbent” Republican a leg up against his much more well-known, and better-financed, Democratic challengers. The odds are that the Legislature will reject Romney's gambit.

Now that a special election is almost certain -- if, of course, Kerry wins -- candidates on both sides of the aisle are champing at the bit. Should Romney's amendment pass, his possible appointments include former Governor William Weld, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Chairwoman Gloria Larson, John Hancock Financial Services general counsel Wayne Budd, and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card.

On the Democratic side, Joseph Kennedy II is an early favorite, according to a Boston Herald poll, and U.S. Representative Barney Frank is running a close second. Representatives Edward Markey (a longtime Kerry associate whom the presumptive nominee has designated as his liaison to Capitol Hill during the campaign) and Martin Meehan will put up a tough primary fight, however, as both have already started raising funds for the race -- and have done exceptionally well.

And there's one more scenario to keep in mind: Romney isn't without his own political aspirations. While it's unlikely that he would nominate himself to the interim post, don't be surprised if, through the infinite magic of American politics, he ends up on the special-election ballot.

--Rob Anderson

Class Will Out

Chatting on a mobile phone in the back seat of a Honda that's barreling through eastern Pennsylvania, Billionaires for Bush Co-Chair Andrew Boyd is decked out in an elegant, Old World suit made many decades ago by his immigrant grandfather. As he prepares to debark for his next event, he'll put on his top hat, his tie emblazoned with images of hundred-dollar bills (“it looks like money -- in both senses of the word”), and start brandishing his plastic cigar.

It's the perfect ensemble for “bird-dogging the president” on behalf of Billionaires for Bush, a troupe of street-theater wiseacres that dates back to 2000 (originally the Billionaires bashed both George W. Bush and Al Gore; they've since become more discriminating) that Boyd describes as a “grass-roots network of degenerate heiresses, deal-making CEOs, corporate lobbyists, and other winners under Bush's economic policies.”

National Director of Public Relations Pam Perd (she won't reveal her real name, explaining, “I like being Pam Perd.”) says the organization, which now has 56 chapters across the nation, was “created to expose the truth behind Bush's economic policies -- that they really are in favor of the extreme wealth in this country at the expense of everyone else.”

As we speak, Boyd is en route to an “Ask the President” event in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, outside of which the Billionaires will be “popping a bottle of champagne and toasting Bush as the best president that money can buy.” Since January, the group has held several such thank-you rallies, chanting and singing outside presidential events and waving posters proclaiming “Corporations Are People, Too.”

The organization's “Get on the Limo Swing-State Summer Tour” starts July 27 in Boston, travels through the Midwest, and ends in New York on August 29. The only thing holding the Billionaires back, apparently, is funding.

“We don't have any. And we'd love some. We've raised maybe $15,000, not more than $20,000, over the past six months,” says Perd. “It's sort of the irony of the Billionaires.”

--Tara McKelvey

Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Looking for some summer fun for the whole family? Why not join a new class-action lawsuit urging the Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese to excommunicate one John Kerry for the crime of heresy?

Oh, stop protesting your inadequacies! It's been centuries since you really threw yourself into a heresy trial? Stake burnings give you a certain je ne sais quoi? It's the 21st century, and you have no idea how user-friendly such proceedings have become.

Thanks to Marc Balestrieri, a 33-year-old canon lawyer who practices in Los Angeles, you can help excommunicate the presumptive Democratic nominee with just a few keystrokes on Balestrieri's Web site. Balestrieri, who told TAP that his day job usually involves opposing annulments (on behalf of Church doctrine, in diocesan proceedings), has charged Kerry with heresy for continuing to receive communion despite Kerry's well-known support for a woman's right to choose. TAP pointed out to Balestrieri that such Republican Catholics as Tom Ridge, George Pataki, and Rudy Giuliani share Kerry's position and also continue to receive communion (TAP supports bigger bonfires), but Balestrieri denied any political motivation and insisted he'd singled out Kerry as “the most visible and the most egregious” of active Catholics with abortion-rights politics.

In fact, Balestrieri does seem primarily bent on stiffening the Church's spine. “The hierarchy has not sufficiently enforced the disciplinary canons of the code,” he laments (a perception that being on the losing side of annulment proceedings can only re-enforce).

His lawsuit, he readily acknowledges, is quite without precedent in the United States, even if, on another continent and in another time, heresy trials were once routine.

And besides, he adds, “Most people who were burned at the stake were asphyxiated. They didn't feel the flames.”

--Harold Meyerson

Brave New Words

JUDICIAL EMERGENCYThe state of affairs caused by Senate Democrats' holding up three Bush judicial appointments. Meanwhile, 26 nominations are pending on the Senate floor, with nothing standing between the nominees and the bench but poor Republican scheduling.

MORAL, LEGAL, AND ETHICAL Description by Tom DeLay's spokesman of the House majority leader's corporate fund raising in Texas state legislative elections, which included mega-gifts from Enron, among others. Under Texas law, corporate giving to legislative races has been banned for nearly 100 years.

DISRUPT THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS Tom Ridge's description of what terrorists would seek to do with a pre-election attack. Not to be confused with Tom Ridge's solution for same, which is to call off the election until the administration deems it safe to proceed.

Answers to our John Edwards Pop Quiz:
1.b, 2.b, 3.c, 4.a, 5.a, 6.c, 7. b and d (same name; two different men), 8.c, 9.a and b (he had to drop out of Clemson for financial reasons and then finished up at North Carolina State, 10.c, 11.a, 12.d, 13.c, 14.d, 15.c, 16.d (at least)