Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Cannot Wait To Read the New Edwin Edwards Book

Wow two post on Edwin in one day.

Better get this book early. I suspect this will be a big seller for Christmas!!

I was sort of disappointed that Bush did not commute Edwards sentence. There were major rumors he would. Both former Republican Governor Dave Treen(who just passed away) and President George H Bush were asking him to do it.

I noted this today in the news:

Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, 82, is heading into the home stretch in his 10-year prison term on racketeering charges. Imprisoned in 2002, he is due to be released from the Oakdale Correctional Facility in a year, then spend six months in a halfway house before he is given back his freedom.

WDSU-TV in New Orleans reports, in October, Edwards was granted a three-day furlough, par for the course for prisoners reaching the end of their term of incarceration. Edwards spent his furlough in Baton Rouge. While in prison, Edwards has worked with biographer Leo Honeycutt on a much anticipated book, due to be released on Dec. 1.

In an interview last month with Fox 8 TV, Honeycutt told reporters Edwards is looking forward to feeling the “freedom of the open air and the open road. The first thing he would like to do when he gets out is that he would like to take an RV and go out West.” Perhaps working for a charity in the state is in Edward’s future, but what is not on the table is running for political office, even if he could. Honeycutt told reporters, “Even if he were to get a gold seal pardon, he is not ever running again so people can forget that.”

I am very curious if Edwin will address some of the stuff Clyde Vidrine wrote in the infamous book Just Takin Orders.

No matter what you think of Edwards he saw and led the State through A LOT OF HISTORY. I suppose he was the first Governor that truly served in the new racially integrated Louisiana. Tensions were high then and how he was popular both among blacks and whites shows his political skills. I hope he talks about that time period.

Forrer Republican Governor and Edwards for Dave Treen before he passed away wrote the forward to the book. See that here .That forward makes the book sound very interesting.

Treen makes this interesting point:

But while Governor Edwards and I seldom agreed on principles, I
always admired his genuine love of Louisiana and his uncanny ability to get
many things done to provide for people what he believed they needed. His
legislating skills were unmatched by anyone before or since and that’s
because, I believe, he had a sixth sense of what would sell and how to sell it
so that by the time an issue came up, he knew better than anyone else how to
make it work. In riding herd over 144 legislators, each with his own agenda,
having that sixth sense is priceless. A governor simply does not have time to
ponder each idea. I know. I burned a lot of midnight oil.

I admired Governor Edwards also for his coalition building. He
always let the other side talk. But, more importantly, he listened. In the
acrimonious politics of today, that’s rare unfortunately. This was the
cornerstone to his success because he built lasting friendships and strong
alliances. In fact, in looking back, I don’t think he ever legislated as much
along party lines as on whether he personally thought someone else simply
had a better idea. Like me, he didn’t have to always get the credit. That’s the
mark of a great leader.

I think that is a very good assessment. It is amazing today how many people will almost deny voting for Edwards. Ahh that crook they say.

I have a feeling a lot of these folks I talk too have selective memories of what they did in the voting booth and especially in 1984 in the Edwards and Treen race. It seemed that a lot of folks loved Edwards.

Blacks loved Edwards, rural whites loved Edwards, north Louisiana folks loved Edwards, Catholics , Pentecostals, and Evangelicals loved Edwards. As Treen notes he knew how to build alliances. He was in so many ways a extremely charming man. He a combination of a talented speech maker, good looks, political savvy and that sort of bad frat boy the girls just love and guys envy.

The Legislature is a wild beast. It is tough to tame even with the massive powers and favors a Louisiana Governor cangive. Powerful Governors are very much a tradition that comes from out Spanish and French heritage. The fact that Edwards was able to get so much of agenda through shows his skill.

Someone once said in Louisiana there are three basic groups. The blacks, The reds( white rednecks and their Cajun Cousins that have similar voting patterns) and the Blues (bluebloods). To win Statewide in Louisiana you got to capture two of the three. Edwards always had trouble with blues but always did well with the blacks and reds. This coalition only fell apart after the Hayride was over. That being when the price of oil went in ino the basement and there was no money left.

Years ago I found myself in a odd position That is advocating for Jim Brown , who I always opposed, in the miscarriage of justice that was his Federal Conviction. I also had some concerns about the Edwards trial and especially the sentence. Treen hits on that too.

Being in politics for 50 years, anyone is
going to create enemies but Governor Edwards attracted controversy with
his tongue. This is partly the reason I reconnected with him after the
sentencing in his 2000 trial. I believe the federal government, and by that I
mean Judge Frank Polozola and U.S. attorney Jim Letten, doubled his
sentence from the prescribed five years purely out of vindictiveness. They
didn’t like him. That’s not a good reason to double someone’s sentence and
is, I believe, a misuse of power.
That is pretty strong words coming from a respected conservative and man that came very close to being appointed to the Federal bench.

There is another article here that talks about the book. I thought this was very interesting:

Honeycutt said it took him a whole year to get Edwards to open up. "It still takes an hour to warm him up, an hour to cut the mask off and to try and get to something he's really thinking underneath that touches him somewhere because the thing that made him such a great politician was the fact that he was unemotional about most things."

I think that is a good point. We seem to think we know Edwin Edwards but I don't think we really do. To think of Edwards as being "unemotional" seems counter intuitive. Especially for those that can recall seeing him on the stump. But there were always hints that he was a far more complex man "behind the mask" as it were.

I am looking forward to the book and when he gets out of jail. I hope he goes on a speaking tour because I got a few questions I would to ask.

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