John Edwards after the second day of jury deliberations at the federal courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina May 21, 2012. Edwards is charged with accepting excessive campaign funds to conceal his extramarital affair while he ran for president. (JOHN ADKISSON/REUTERS)

All that’s happening in the courtroom, Dellinger said, is that Southerners almost always smile at each other, and the defendant is just being his polite Southern self. (Our Southern non-magnolia Suzi Parker counters that flirting and being Southern are the same thing; if a Southerner’s breathing, she says, then he or she is flirting: “It’s in our genes.”)

So why in the world does any of this matter? First and foremost, that alternate could still be called up to serve on the jury, unlikely as that seems at this point, and as she enthusiastically nodded her way through the closing defense argument, that would seem to be a problem.

The implausible back-and-forth in open court is also a window into John Edwards’s world and what his late wife, Elizabeth, had to contend with if. ­­Even as a criminal defendant, in front of Jesus and his elderly parents, he’s still getting a come-on. And it’s a not very flattering window into our reality-TV culture, where it’s not only power that’s an aphrodisiac, but scandal.

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Melinda Henneberger is a Post political writer and anchors ‘She the People.’ Follow her on Twitter at @MelindaDC.