John Edwards nearly rode a megawatt grin into the Oval Office, and there's a lesson in the wreckage of his political career, writes Richard Cohen. Edwards became the vice presidential nominee because of his "political matinee idol" style, rather than legislative achievement. His rise—along with that of Sarah Palin and even Barack Obama—should make people stop and ask how much they really know about politicians who rise from nowhere to rock-star status, Cohen writes in the Washington Post.
Scott Brown could be the next to go from GMC pickup to his own campaign plane overnight, Cohen writes. Celebrity status has now replaced accomplishment, and the political machines that once filtered candidates have been "replaced by a sham familiarity—fame at its most beguiling and dangerous," Cohen writes. "This was John Edwards. He's not a scandal. He's a lesson." (Read more John Edwards stories.)