Sunday, May 08, 2005

John Edwards' Two Americas

If you ever happen to hear former Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards' give his "Two Americas" speech on the stump, try asking him which America he lives in. It's probably not the same one as the rest of us.

This weekend's Washington Post Real estate section notes that the Edwards' Washington D.C. (Georgetown) home is on sale for a mere $6.5 million.

The Edwardses put their detached yellow brick Georgetown home on P Street on the market last week for $6.5 million. The Federal-style four-story house, built in 1830, is listed with real estate brokerage Washington Fine Properties, although there's no sign out front.

After the Edwardses bought the house, which has seven bedrooms, six full baths and two half-baths, they renovated it to suit their family's needs, Elizabeth Edwards said. The couple lived in the home with their two young children, Emma Claire, 7, and Jack, 4. Their oldest daughter, Cate, who recently graduated from Princeton University and now works as an editorial assistant at Vanity Fair magazine, visited on holidays and school vacations .

"We pretty much gutted it," said Elizabeth Edwards, "but we wanted to keep the character of the house, since so many people knew it. But it needed to be more family-friendly for us."

Edwards said the couple changed the ground-floor layout, connecting the renovated kitchen to a family room, put in central air conditioning, enclosed a porch, added a study upstairs, rewired the house for computer use, added a room in the carriage house above the garage, replaced part of the flooring with heart pine from an old mill in South Carolina, and redid several bathrooms. They added almost 2,000 square feet to the house, then painted the exterior "buttermilk yellow with sage-green" shutters, she said.

Edwards said the couple will move to their white clapboard family home in Raleigh while they build a house on a 100-acre parcel of land in Chapel Hill. After the new house is done sometime next year, the Edwardses plan to sell their Raleigh house, which they custom built in the early 1980s. They will retain their family beach house on the North Carolina coast near Wilmington, she said.
During his malpractice lawyering heyday, Edwards amassed much of his $150 million fortune by suing obstetricians for causing cerebral palsy in newborns through failure to monitor "fetal distress" during delivery. Recent medical studies have shown that the vast majority of cerebral palsy cases originate prior to delivery, and that Edwards' medical reasoning was faulty. From the Washington Times:

Linking complications during childbirth to cerebral palsy became a specialty for Mr. Edwards. In the courtroom, he was known to dramatize the events at birth by speaking to jurors as if he were the unborn baby, begging for help, begging to be let out of the womb.

"He was very good at it," said Dr. John Schmitt, an obstetrician and gynecologist who used to practice in Mr. Edwards' hometown of Raleigh. "But the science behind a lot of his arguments was flawed."

In 2003, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published a joint study that cast serious doubt on whether events at childbirth cause cerebral palsy. The "vast majority" of cerebral palsy cases originate long before childbirth, according to the study.

"Now, he would have a much harder time proving a lot of his cases," said Dr. Schmitt, who now practices at the University of Virginia Health System.
No longer suing physicians for a living, Edwards is now back in North Carolina, heading up the University of North Carolina’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, where he is no doubt working on his "Three Americas" speech which includes the vast American Middle Class that he conveniently forgot during the 2004 campaign.


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