John Edwards gave a terrific speech Thursday. He was grateful for the hard work of jurors who found him not guilty of one count and unable to agree on other charges in his federal campaign-finance case. He was contrite about the sins and wrongs he committed. And he was appreciative of the loving family who has stood by him. Great words, wonderful sentiments, all delivered flawlessly — but I’m not buying a bit of it.

You see, I — along with a lot of other Americans — were fooled before by this man who is very good at appearing to be something he’s not. Not the faithful husband nor the teller of hard truths nor the champion of the underdog. Federal prosecutors may not have proved their criminal case against the one-time presidential hopeful, but the four week trial more than proved what a big phony Edwards is and how adept he is at manipulating others.

No doubt it’s that ability — not to mention his boyish good looks — that contributed to his success as a trial lawyer and as a politician. Indeed, it’s scary to think how close those abilities got him to the Oval Office. And no doubt there probably are lots of people who will buy his performance on the steps of the North Carolina courthouse and believe he learned his lesson, he’s a changed man.

 “I don’t think God is through with me,” Edwards said Thursday. Perhaps not, but I certainly hope America is.

More on the John Edwards trial:

The Post’s View: John Edwards should not be retried

Petri: The verdict’s real joke