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It wasn’t too long ago that John Edwards running for Senate as a moderate choirboy was promising to stay above gutter politics and negative smears. By gosh, he said, he was going to keep to the high moral ground.

Times change. Nine years later, our choirboy has become a pit-bull attacking Hillary, Rupert Murdoch and calling Ann Coulter a “she-devil” in one breath while saying in the next that ‘people like Ann Coulter engage in hateful language.’

Well, it turned out attacking Hillary (for taking millions from special-interests) wasn’t such a good idea. Because someone promptly pointed out Edwards has his own-personal special interest. The Fortress Investment Group. A multi-billion dollar hedge fund. Which, after Edwards ran for Vice-President, paid him a generous $479,000 (as a part-time consultant) and whose executives have already given his campaign $150,000. Worst of all, for Edwards, it turns out his special-interest has been busy foreclosing on victims of Hurricane Katrina, selling their homes at auction.

How did Edwards respond to all this bad news? First, about Fortress, he said he’s shocked. Just shocked. But he’s not giving back the six hundred thousand dollars.

His attack on media tycoon Rupert Murdoch (who owns Fox News) backfired too. Murdoch’s response was brief. He had one of his newspapers report he had paid Edwards $900,000 – in what publishers say is a cushy deal – for his book “Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives.”

Edwards’ response to that wasn’t so adroit. His campaign said, in effect, it thought the agreement with Murdoch was secret and Edwards had given most of the money to charity.

Then Edwards’ made one last faux-pas, saying, while Obama and Hillary are only talking about ending the war, he’s ready to “immediately withdraw 40,000 – 50,000 troops from Iraq and finish a complete withdrawal of combat troops within the next year.”

Sounds like John Edwards is the true anti-war candidate, right?

Wrong. The operative word is combat. Because just withdrawing combat troops will leave up to 60,000 soldiers in Iraq. So if you want to really pull out, Dennis Kucinich is your man.

In politics it’s commonplace to find a candidate waving a magic wand – like Cinderella’s fairy Godmother – trying to reinvent himself. But what Mr. Edwards is learning is it matters when and where you do it. In some races, where there is not a lot of scrutiny, it works. But a Presidential election is not the place.

The brother of a candidate once described running for President pretty succinctly. He said, ‘First, they stand my brother up in front of the whole world, then they strip off his clothes piece by piece, then they beat the hell out of him and I guess – like trial by ordeal – in a screwball kind of way, maybe, it makes sense because if you’re tough enough to survive all that you’re probably qualified to be President.’

It’s hard not to conclude John Edwards’ theory of politics must owe something to the infamous ‘Rubber Man’ in the circus, who could change shapes, tie himself in knots, and bend over backwards – without breaking a sweat.

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