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|Will the Edwards obsession end now?|
President Obama has been sworn in, effectively ending former Governor Edwin Edwards' hopes for a shorter prison sentence.
President Bush did the right thing by not releasing him from jail early. Edwards is, simply put, a criminal who is right where he belongs. The evidence that put him in Oakdale prison was convincing to say the least.
Seldom do the editorial writers in Edwards' amen corner bother to remind us that he was offered a plea bargain that included a much lighter sentence. With the Feds' 95 percent conviction rate, along with the case against him, his decision to go to trial was suicidal. But he did it anyway, knowing full well the potential consequences.
Hopefully this will put an end to Louisiana's fixation with "Fast Eddie."
For many years now, I have been disturbed by Louisiana's seeming obsession with the fate of a former governor convicted of a federal crime. Since Edwards went to jail, it has been nearly impossible to have a conversation over drinks with political insiders without the subject of his early release coming up.
There are people that have long insisted that his sentence should be commuted, and have passionately argued their case. "He's an old man," they say. Former political rival Dave Treen has been actively lobbying for Edwards early release up until now. There are those on the other side of he coin who get irate at the very thought of setting him free. Senator David Vitter has been very public in his opposition to Edwards' release.
The debate has been the source of much drama that is, frankly, wearing thin.
In the most recent gubernatorial election, Edwin Edwards literally became a campaign issue. Former Governor Dave Treen was publicly discussing his attempts to get an early release for Edwards: he did so in the midst of a gubernatorial race.
As a result, Governor Bobby Jindal found himself under intense pressure to take a position on the issue. Amazingly, Jindal was challenged more on the subject of Edwards' early release than he was on a number of other important issues. Edwin Edwards literally became a campaign issue.
Not the loss of our college graduates.
The hot-button issue of the campaign was Edwin Edwards. In a state with all of the problems that we have, there's just something inherently wrong with that.
For my part, I believe that Edwards is right where he belongs, and President Bush did the right thing by not commuting his sentence. But had he done otherwise, I would not have lost sleep over it. Given the myriad of problems that Louisiana faces, I fail to see why so much time and energy should be devoted to the fate of a former governor who is largely irrelevant to Louisiana's future.
Hopefully the Edwards obsession will end with the hopes of his early release. We have more important things to think about.
Chad Rogers is publisher of The Dead Pelican, a news web site. The site can be read at www.thedeadpelican.com.