One of the most common criticisms aimed at my infamous Edwards column is that my "evidence" was "thin" or "flimsy"– a mix of casual personal observations and "hearsay" (God forbid we should trust anyone else’s account, right?).
Edwards, Foreclosure Critic, Has
Investing Tie to Subprime Lenders
By CHRISTOPHER COOPER
August 17, 2007; Page A1
As a presidential candidate, Democrat John Edwards has regularly attacked subprime lenders, particularly those that have filed foreclosure suits against victims of Hurricane Katrina. But as an investor, Mr. Edwards has ties to lenders foreclosing on Katrina victims.
The Wall Street Journal has identified 34 New Orleans homes whose owners have faced foreclosure suits from subprime-lending units of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Mr. Edwards has about $16 million invested in Fortress funds, according to a campaign aide who confirmed a more general Federal Election Commission report. Mr. Edwards worked for Fortress, a publicly held private-equity fund, from late 2005 through 2006….
Well, I don’t roll that way. D-Brad doesn’t roll that way. Most of my colleagues do. They treat "Deep Throat’s" suggestion to "follow the money" as some secular equivalent of Holy Writ, brought down on stone tablets from Mt. Vernon.
My problem — and it is indeed a problem, as you can see by watching me struggle with such basic tasks as paying monthly bills — is that I don’t find money very interesting. I don’t find it solid and meaningful the way most hard-headed, sensible folk seem to do. To me it is ephemeral, abstract, gossamer stuff. It’s slippery. Its very fungibility causes me to feel like I’m gazing into a shifting cloud when others see sharp outlines.
I prefer personal observation of an individual’s behavior. Preferably my own observation, but the reliable accounts of others as well. And reliability depends upon the circumstances. When my discrete, reserved assistant, whom I trust absolutely with all that money stuff that so befuddles me and who never says a bad word about anybody, is so struck by a candidate’s callousness that she says something about it, that has meaning to me. When a guy tells me about the candidate jogging by his house after an event was supposed to start, it’s just interesting. But when an independent source sufficiently unimpeachable that he will never speak on the record because it would ruin the connections that give him such access backs it up without my having mentioned it, and even throws in such unnecessary details as the wetness of the candidates’ hair from his post-jog shower, and there are hundreds of sweaty witnesses to the fact that the candidate was two hours late to said event — well, it becomes memorable, and gathers meaning.
But if the WSJ wants to document the candidate’s insincerity by following the money, fine. Better them than me.