BAYHAM: Back to School – Edwards and King Hold Court at LSU

One of the nation’s most prominent television personalities conducted an hour long interview with former Governor Edwin Edwards at the LSU Student Union Theater on Sunday afternoon, with the latter displaying the sharp wit and quick tongue that helped propel him from Crowley city councilman to the state’s highest office.

Edwards’s authorized biographer Leo Honeycutt also shared the stage with the two though not so much the spotlight, playing more the supporting role of “Ed McMahon” than an equal participant in the program.

King was deferential to the former governor, at one point gushing that it was “an honor being in your presence” while the latter paid tribute to King by sporting a pair of suspenders, a trademark of the longtime journalist.

The former CNN talk show host served up a number of softball, personal interest questions that would be better fitted for an interview with a Kardashian than the man who dominated Louisiana government longer than any other individual.

However the conversation meandered to the former governor’s thoughts on the current one.

Edwards chided Governor Bobby Jindal for his refusal to embrace ObamaCare and alleging that Jindal’s preoccupation with a potential presidential bid has led him to make decisions that are detrimental to the state of health care in Louisiana.

At one point it appeared that Edwards had paid Jindal a compliment when he mentioned that Jindal “should have been there a few years ago”, though upon seeking clarification on the comment after leaving stage, Edwards explained that an earlier Jindal election would have meant he would not be in office now due to term limits.

When King lightly touched on his conviction, Edwards used the opportunity to argue that those who had testified against them were pressured to do so by the federal government and that their testimony should not be viewed as credible as many of them had been convicted themselves of lesser federal crimes.

Rather than plunging further into the details of the case or the evidence the federal government presented, King shifted the interview to a discussion about life in the pen and why prisoners get repositioned so much within the system (Edwards’s answer- to prevent inmates from becoming too familiar with guards and administrators).

Though officially out of politics, Edwards pays close attention to state, national and foreign affairs.

King and Edwards engaged in a lively discussion over President Barack Obama’s potential military action in Syria.

Citing a lack of threat to America, Edwards said that intervention in Syria made little sense though he affirmed his support for Israel, praising them for their stability and being “our only real friend in the area”.
Edwards differentiated Syria from Israel and argued that “a threat to Israel is a threat to us.”

Though not on stage, Edwards’s new wife Trina, 36, was in attendance along with their four month old infant son Eli Wallace Edwards.

King asked Edwards about his son’s unusual name, to which the ex-governor replied it was a tribute to his father (whose middle name was Wallace) while also indirectly linking him to his own name as they would share the same initials.

The Edwardses will soon be featured in the A&E reality genre television program “The Governor’s Wife.” The former governor mentioned off-stage that the network would try to position it alongside another Louisiana-based program, running the same night as the nationally popular show “Duck Dynasty.”

Beyond involvement with the developing television project, Edwards remains busy, attending book signings and delivering speeches in Louisiana and out of state. The ex-inmate even joked that he thought of going back to jail in order to get some rest from his hectic schedule.

Though students qualified for free tickets to the interview, the audience in the half-empty theatre primarily consisted of older individuals who had to pay $60 for entrance. Most of the students at LSU would have been born during Edwards’s final term as governor (1992-1996) though few would have been able to recall much from his tenure or his later trial.

However those who showed up were clearly in Edwards’s corner, as they gave the former governor a standing and much louder ovation than they afforded King. Many in attendance stuck around to greet the 86 year old political icon.

Also noteworthy was the dearth of politicians on hand for the program. Democratic State Representative Karen St. Germain of Plaquemine was one of the few prominent politicos present.

In a post-program interview with the campus’ Tiger TV, Edwards expressed an interest in returning to his alma mater for a semester to teach a course.

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