Started at the The Chronicle as a night police reporter in 2000, after moving to Augusta from Lynchburg, Va. The following year, joined the Special Projects team. In 2003, covered the invasion of Iraq as an embedded reporter with the Augusta-based 319th Transportation Company. Served as the Society of Professional Journalists' Georgia Sunshine Chair from 2007 to 2009. After Sylvia Cooper retired in 2008, spent a little over a year as the newspaper's city government reporter, writing The City Core both as a weekend print column and as an online blog. This year, joined the newly-formed Public Service team.
Posted January 27, 2010 07:41 pm - Updated February 23, 2010 11:33 am

John Edwards betrayed me, too

Elizabeth Edwards is finally leaving her husband, the adulterous, lying, hypocritical disgrace of a former Democratic presidential candidate, even by presidential candidate standards.

Quoting a friend, The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the couple has separated, and under North Carolina law they'll have to live apart for a year before she can file for divorce.

Good for her. I feel for Mrs. Edwards, not just because her husband treated her like garbage, but also because, like her, I'm a victim. The ongoing public embarrassment caused by his selfish behavior - the tabloid headlines, the tell-all books, the endless Inside Edition segments - has violated me and countless others around the world in a way I wish more people were talking about:

John Edwards ruined my name.

Mine is a simple, humble name really, and highly common, about one rung down from John Smith. Despite this, until 2003 when Edwards launched his first presidential campaign, there wasn't anyone majorly famous that I shared my name with. Sure, there were some second- and third-tier celebs and historical figures - 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards, former Foreigner lead singer Johnny Edwards, former Spinners singer John Edwards, psychic medium John Edward, former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Edwards, journalist and Jesse James chronicler John Newman Edwards, "Sunshine (Go Away Today)" singer Jonathan Edwards - but no one big enough to cause cashiers to giggle after you hand them your driver's license.

That changed later, especially after the former North Carolina senator became a presidential frontrunner in 2004. When I introduced myself to people, they'd ask if I were related to the candidate. I'd politely say no, thinking to myself, Yes, all people named John Edwards are in the same family. He's my twin brother. For a while there, I amusedly pondered that if Edwards won, I'd find out how people named Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford felt.

Little did I know, then, what was in store during the next few years. Now I know how people named Charlie Sheen feel. With his $400 haircut, his cheating on a cancer-stricken wife, his lies about fathering his mistress' child, the federal investigation into his campaign finances, his unmistakeable slimeball grin, Edwards has basically done to my name what the hillbillies did to Ned Beatty in Deliverance. Now every time I introduce myself, I have to break an awkward silence by explaining that I'm not a politician or a filthy-rich plaintiffs' attorney. Now I get this tinge of self-consciousness every time I have to give my legal name to a utility company over the phone.

In many ways, I and all the other John Edwardses of the world are the ones suffering the most here.

The politician betrayed his political party, selfishly pursuing the Obama vice presidential nomination in the midst of his escapades, with utter disregard for what would have happened to an Obama/Edwards ticket if the revelations had come out afterward. But the Democrats are way past that now.

He betrayed his wife, but she can get a divorce and return to her maiden name of Mary Elizabeth Anania. He betrayed his children, but they'll get over it with some therapy.

Me, I'm stuck with my problem. Going by Johnny doesn't help, because the ex-senator goes by Johnny, too. I thought of changing my byline to Johnny R. Edwards to distance myself a little, but that won't work because that dipstick's middle name is Reid.

Of course, Edwards himself is suffering, too. He's been stripped of his dignity and his political career, and he may soon be stripped of his family.

I just wish there was a way to strip him of his name.