Politics Foreign Affairs Culture

Donald J. Trump = Edwin W. Edwards

Understanding the appeal of a brash, roguish populist

This just in:

Donald Trump boasted Saturday that support for his presidential campaign would not decline even if he shot someone in the middle of a crowded street.

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said at a campaign rally here.

Oh my gosh, can you believe Trump said that? Well, I never!

Well, maybe you never, but we in Louisiana damn sure have. Compare:

“The only way I could lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.” — Edwin W. Edwards, 1983.

People in Louisiana loved Edwin Edwards back in the day. It confounded the hell out of us conservatives. Couldn’t they see what a crook he was? What a showboating fraud? It was hard for us to grasp his appeal, because his lack of appeal was so freaking obvious. 

But he kept winning. His last race was for Congress a couple of years ago. He lost. But EWE is 88 years old, and his time has passed. It’s safe to say that even his enemies today find him endearing. I couldn’t stand the man back in the day, but today? I would rather spend the afternoon with him than any other politician in Louisiana, or in the entire country. Even though he didn’t win his final race, something EWE said to New York magazine in 2014 captured the essence of his lifelong political appeal:

“With me, the people know the butter might be rancid, but it’s going to be spread on their side of the bread.”

That’s Trump for you, ain’t it? I bet he’ll win the GOP primary in Louisiana going away.

UPDATE: Reader Ben H., referring to a bumper sticker popular in Louisiana when Edwin Edwards was running for governor against blowdried Klucker David Duke:

Ironically, the mass of Hillary support seems to be along the lines of “vote for the crook, its important”

That’ll be what a lot of Republicans will be saying to justify voting for Hillary against Trump if he’s the GOP nominee.



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