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Darts and laurels: John Edwards’ fall from grace

Dart to former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, who hammered the last nail in his political coffin by having an affair with a young woman in 2006. To his credit, Edwards did not wag his finger at the cameras and say, “I did not have sex with that woman,” a la Bill. He acknowledged the affair late last week, admitted he’d become too narcissistic and said he was ashamed. But he had been denying the story for months.
Edwards has political strengths. He’s intelligent and articulate, and he says he wants to champion the little guy, the poor portion of what he calls the two Americas. But he was overeager to jump from his first election as a senator to seeking the presidency. Then there was the expensive haircut, followed by images of him primping in a mirror. Now this. Whatever substance there is to John Edwards may forever be overshadowed now by the image of pretty-boy, skirt-chasing politician. He’ll have a hard time convincing voters otherwise.
Elizabeth Edwards must feel like Job, hit by the death of a teenage son, a cancer she knows will kill her, her husband’s political setbacks and now this ó the private betrayal and public embarrassment of his infidelity. This, too, will pass, as it did for the Clintons. But not before a lot more questions about John Edwards arise in people’s minds. And a lot more doubts. It’s a shame.
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Laurels to the sales tax holiday North Carolina and several other states observed recently for back-to-school shoppers. Though the state has had the holiday for seven years, shoppers might not have appreciated it more than in 2008. Gasoline prices have challenged family budgets across the nation, and outfitting youngsters for school costs a lot. The 6.75 percent sales tax charged in most counties does not sound like a lot, but shoppers were expected to save a total of $9.2 million. They also revved up retail sales. Over the seven-year life span of the annual holiday, shoppers have saved $60 million in sales tax. Certainly North Carolina and local government could have used those revenues. Critics say the holiday is nothing more than a gimmick. Whatever. For now, shoppers will take the tax break and run with it. Every little 6.75 percent helps.
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Dart to the slow response so far to Learn and Earn Online, a state program that allows students to take high school and college courses online. Launched to national acclaim, the program saw students sign up for 1,439 courses last fall. By spring, the number was up to 2,673 ó healthy growth, but not quite what lawmakers were hoping for. They very nearly didn’t renew the program’s funding, but a veto threat from Gov. Mike Easley eked out a last-minute allocation. Let’s hope student response justifies it.

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