Ed Rendell and His Bitches

Why is the most important Philadelphian of the past 25 years eating microwave dinners at home alone with his golden retrievers? Because a man’s life changes. That’s why

What makes this professional transition even more poignant is that it’s happening simultaneously with a significant personal one. In January, Ed and Midge—the longtime federal judge to whom he’s been married since 1971—e-mailed friends that they were separating. The split managed to be at once stunning and not so surprising, given the rumors (including some reported by this magazine last summer) that Ed was involved with another woman.

Speaking of this magazine: When I first reached out to the Rendell camp about doing this story, I got an irate phone call from Ed. “My first reaction is, you gotta be fucking kidding me,” he railed. As it turned out, he was upset not about last summer’s story—in which he and state employee Kirstin Snow denied having an affair—but about a snarky headline on Philly Mag’s blog after he and Kirstin, who now works for him, were spied having lunch recently at Table 31. “Talking to you would be like putting a loaded gun in my mouth,” Ed vented. He went on in this vein, ranting about the Internet and various other things. Then he said, “Okay, I guess I’ll do it.”

As his new life begins, Ed faces at least a couple very practical conundrums—starting with how he’ll get around once he loses his state police driver. Ed says that in the past 20 years, he’s driven a car only a handful of times—once at the Shore in the ’90s when he was out to dinner with Midge and was designated driver. “I drove home four miles at eight miles an hour,” he jokes. His current plan is to either go halfsies on a driver with one of his powerful buddies or take driving lessons to sharpen his lapsed skills.

Ed’s other pickle is even more basic: how he’ll feed himself now that he no longer has a kitchen staff, or a wife, to cook for him. So far he’s largely been subsisting on meals out, pizza and hoagies from a shop down the street, the occasional Whole Foods run, and some tasty Hormel frozen dinners. “It takes 90 seconds to microwave them, and they’re not bad,” he says enthusiastically. “And they’re cheap—$2.29 for a turkey with stuffing.” (He springs for real cranberry sauce.)

As for how he’s actually earning a living, well, in typical Ed fashion, he’s taken not just one job, but 17. I know this is the correct number because Ed took out a legal pad and listed all his jobs for me. They fall into four basic categories: law (a partnership at his longtime firm, Ballard Spahr, where he uses his numerous connections on behalf of clients); business (consulting gigs and board memberships at various companies); media and public speaking (MSNBC, a memoir he’s writing, a weekly sports column for the Daily News, $5,000-to-$20,000-a-pop speeches); and politics (two PACs, a Brookings Institution fellowship, and co-chairmanship of Building America’s Future, which focuses on infrastructure). Ed says the goal of all this activity is twofold: to make serious money for the first time in his life, and to stay engaged in the national conversation.

Of course, atop those 17 jobs and two goals rests one overarching challenge for Ed Rendell: how to find his place in the world when the life he’s known for 40 years has disappeared.

 

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  • Amanda

    A story about Ed Rendell is usually not appealing to me. The title and first few sentences drew me in and I couldn’t stop reading. Although it’s not Shakespeare, I loved every word of it it…especially the title!

  • Diana

    That picture is the most disturbing thig I’ve ever seen.

  • Mandy May

    I loved reading this story. The writer managed to turn an article which would normally be boring into something funny and intriguing. After reading the story I have a new perspective on Ed Rendell…and his bitches!