Elizabeth Edwards walked right into it, evidently with her eyes open and her brain functioning, and now she's got a huge public relations mess on her hands.
At some point either Friday or Saturday, Elizabeth Edwards gave an interview to an Associated Press reporter about her Orange County neighbor, Monty Johnson. The resulting story made it into the N&O on Sunday and was popping up all around the country by Monday.
Elizabeth Edwards committed at least three cardinal sins:
1. She appeared to attack her neighbor without provocation, and she admitted she'd never met him and didn't want to. "I wouldn't be nice to him anyway." That makes her both unfriendly and high-falutin'.
2. She made it partisan: Johnson is a "rabid, rabid Republican," she told the reporter.
3. She played "the class card" (I'm bettern you and I don't like looking at your mess). She said that Johnson "refuses to clean up his 'slummy' property just to spite her family, whose lavish 28,000-square-foot estate is nearby on 102 wooded acres."
Ouch! And it's only getting worse.
This morning the N&O follows up with an interview with Monty Johnson, who is clearly relishing his put-upon status as the gun-wielding hillbilly neighbor who so discomfits the Madam. Just get a load of his bad self, posing for the camera. And he's now got the upper hand. Nothing elevates your status like being the victim, especially of RICH people (and never mind the logic that this poor Republican is victimized every day by the RICH people who've taken over both his party and this country).
And now hubby John Edwards has been sucked into this black hole and looks less than presidential:
John Edwards, asked about Johnson while catching a flight for New York on Tuesday night, said, "You'll have to ask Elizabeth about him."Oh Jeez. If you're running to be the Leader of the Free World, you don't pass the buck to your wife. Deal with it. Deal with it now!
The Gun Issue: Elizabeth apparently feels entitled to her opinions because Monty Johnson once brandished a 9mm gun in front of some federal agents, and that might give anybody pause. She said it scared her for her children's sake: "I don't want my kids anywhere near some guy who when he doesn't like somebody, the first thing he does is pull a gun out. It scares the business out of me."
Point taken. But still, Johnson didn't brandish the gun in front of Elizabeth Edwards or in front of any of the Edwards family (far as we can tell). He was accosting men in black standing on his property, looking suspicious.
The Unanswered Question: Why did the original AP interview with Elizabeth Edwards happen? How did the reporter know to ask about the neighbor? What got this ball rolling, this great big snot ball of How NOT to Deal with the Press?
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