Despite escaping conviction in his recent campaign contribution trial, it's safe to say that John Edwards is finished as a trial lawyer and politician, the two careers he had prior to being indicted. Even though Edwards himself optimistically said that he "didn't think God was finished with me yet," there doesn't appear to be much on the horizon, job-wise, even with God waiting in the wings, ready to help.
Given Edwards' adultery, his disloyalty, his lying, his neglect of a sick wife, and his general, all-around creepiness, big-time politics are clearly out of the question. No one is going to vote for this man. Conceivably, he could run for mayor of a small town in his home state of North Carolina -- and win election purely on notoriety and name recognition -- but that's the extent of it. Governor, senator or congressman are pipe dreams.
As for going back to work as a lawyer, that's probably not going to happen either. Although, by all accounts, Edwards was a brilliant trial lawyer (and has not been disbarred), it's unlikely anyone would hire him to represent them in a jury trial. Who would risk hiring a defense lawyer as disgraced and reviled as Edwards? There would always be a chance that a morally outraged jury might choose to show its disapproval of Edwards in the only way available to them: by finding his client guilty.
With the law and politics now off-limits, Edwards will need to find something else to do. Even though he's rich, he'll need to work. Here are four careers he might consider:
TV Evangelist: Edwards is handsome and charismatic, he speaks with a wonderful, syrupy, down-home Southern drawl, and because he's unburdened by anything resembling a conscience, he can look you straight in the eye without flinching when asking for money. As for his sordid past, that won't be a problem. Evangelical audiences love ex-sinners, particularly when the sin in question is "flesh-driven." All they ask is that he publicly confess his sins on national TV, and that he weep profusely while doing so. Edwards could do that.
Fox News commentator: The prospect of getting a prominent Democrat like John Edwards to join their team, to go on television and scathingly criticize his former party, would have Fox executives wetting their pants. Such a profound reversal would be tantamount to Sarah Palin announcing that she'd become a "McGovern Democrat," and was joining the staff of MSNBC. As for the effect Edwards' moral transgressions might have on Fox's hardcore audience, forget about it. Once Edwards the Apostate went on the air and began trashing Democrats, all would be forgotten.
Book author: While it's true that Rielle Hunter, Edwards' mistress, has jumped the gun by writing a book of her own, there is still ample material for a couple more volumes. Not only could Edwards do a book about the whole, sleazy love affair (including heartbreaking details regarding his discarded, deceased wife, Elizabeth), he could do a tell-all about being John Kerry's running mate in the 2004 presidential campaign. And because he has no future in politics, and no reason to hold back or remain civil, he could dish the dirt like a British tabloid.
Star of a reality TV show: John, Rielle Hunter and Baby Quinn could have their own TV series, where they offer a morbidly fascinating glimpse of a discredited American family. In addition to watching John and Rielle perform their daily chores -- shopping, cooking, washing dishes -- we would see them engaged in weird, unnerving activities, like arguing over whether to raise young Quinn as a Baptist, like John, or to groom her to be a New Age priestess, like Rielle. The show would be raw and real. Very real. A suggested title: "Let's Get Rielle."
While Edwards may be correct about God not being "finished" with him yet, personally, when I first heard that remark -- when I heard Edwards utter it on the steps of the courthouse, following his trial -- I assumed he meant that God intended to consign him to the depths of Hell, where he would burn in agony for all eternity. But that's just me.
David Macaray is a Los Angeles playwright and author ("It's Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor"). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org