A sad, sad situation.
John Edwards fesses up to having an affair a couple years ago. What a shame.
To his great credit, at least in my book, he apparently owned up to it to his family about it at the time. To me, that's the end of the story. But of course, the media is going to go after this like a starving dog on a bone.
Initial reaction from the pundocracy ranged from the reasonable and humane, expressing their thoughts for the family and expressing sadness about it, while acknowledging the great amount of good Edwards has done in highlighting the plight of the poor and Katrina victims among others, to anger, as with Paul Begala that just tore Edwards apart, mostly because he thought his statement on the matter was insane somehow. (Begala thought Edwards said too much, and should have just made it short and sweet.)
But perhaps the most disturbing story line I've heard, mostly from media types like Andrea Mitchell, who appeared extremely defensive in trying to justify their frenzy over the story, was that somehow Edwards had it coming because he had included his family in his primary campaign.
That arguement strikes me as ridiculous, yet another reporter took it further, and just as Mitchell had, tried to say that Edwards was some big champion of "family values" simply because of his wife and the fact that he brought his family along to primary states where he was spending all his time.
This is really reaching for a rationalization for over-covering this story.
First of all, a politician who wants his family and young children near him while he spends months away from home is simply a good family guy, not to be confused with some phony blow-hard who fashion themselvs as heroic defenders of "family values" (read white married Christian familys and what they pretend to believe, not what they actually do.)
Edwards wasn't a "family values" candidate in that sense at all! Yet here are these vultures trying to use the same argument used when exposing the REAL hypocrites on the right who've been caught with their pants down, phonys who had trumpeted so-called "family values" at the top of their lungs and held themselves out as sterling examples of that ideal. (which of course was bullshit.)
Edwards really WAS a guy who exemplified family values in the truest sense of the word, but he didn't use it as a political tool to beat people over the head with.
In that respect, the argument that even though this is entirely a personal matter (Edwards is neither running for nor holds political office.) that somehow it's relevant because of the fact that he held himself out as a great family guy.
First of all, this is nothing more than a stupid attempt by some in the press to pretend that they treat Dems the same as Republicans when they get caught in sexual tight squeezes.
There's a real difference between exposing a phony hypocrite who has based their political popularity on bleating about "values" that he wants to force others to have, while not coming near them themselves, on the one hand, and a candidate who actually WAS a good family man by every account, a guy who had suffered and gotten through incredible tragedy and hardship with his wife of 35 years.
Edwards never held himself out as some champion of phony "family values" the way many Republicans have.
And the fact remains that, yes, a guy can be an outstanding husband, father, and family man, and STILL have an affair. Of course in our dumbed down media discourse, where everything has to be black and white simple, apparently you are either a great family guy, or a complete phony louse. That's simply false.
Newt Gingrich is a rotten phony hypocritical louse. Henry Hyde is (or was) a rotten phony hypocritical louse. David Vitter is a rotten phony hypocritical louse. Larry Craig is a rotten phony hypocritical louse. I could list literally dozens of Republicans who simultaneously held themselves out as paragons and warriors for sexual propriety and wholesome family values while engaging in mutliple affairs, producing children out of wedlock, random gay sexual encounters, and frequenting prostitutes, but you all know the facts.
When such rank hypocrisy is exposed, yes, it's legitimate news.
But is it worthy of a public lynching when a guy has an affair, admits it to his wife and family, they deal with it, and go on? Especially when, as noted, they don't hold office and aren't seeking office?
Now granted, there are some really bad aspects of the Edwards story. First of all, that he fell for an obvious political groupie. This woman apparently has led a pretty wild life, including hooking up with other politicians. Edwards should have been better than that, and for that he deserves to be criticized.
Also the matter of the thousands that this woman has been paid. Edward's story is that he knew nothing about it, despite the fact that it was paid out of his P.A.C. (though for video work on his campaign, probably legit.) But what's more troubling is that apparently some of his supporters or campaign staff made payments to the woman. To believe that Edwards didn't know about this is a toss up, but obviously it looks suspicious.
And of course, there's the "what if" hanging over it all. What if Edwards had become the Dem candidate for president? This would have blown him out of the water and any hope of the Dems retaking the White House would have been dashed. This seems to get the political hacks on TV the most excited and freaked out.
But seriously, I can't help but think that Edwards ran to advance both his own stature as well as the causes and issues both he and Elizabeth care deeply about, primarily the plight of the poor and middle class and the health care crisis. They knew their odds were long to begin with. Who knows? If it had turned out that Edwards became a front-runner in the primaries, he may have sabotaged his own campaign to avoid this landmine being exploded. For that matter, who's to say he didn't?
To me this issue is irrelevant, not only because it's a "what if" to begin with, but because I'm not sure that Edwards had a great shot to begin with. In that respect, deciding to run after both he and his wife were aware about this affair isn't quite as sinister and slimy as some pretend.
All an all, the press will have a field day, particularly CNN and FOX, since they're not covering the Olympics and this story is like a gift from heaven.
But seriously. The Edwards have already endured some very tough times, losing a son, and dealing with Elizabeth's health problems. Edwards has nothing to do with the presidential race, other than having been expected to give a speech at the convention, which is obviously not gonna happen. So why should they have to endure helicopters over their house, a traffic jam of press in front of their house, and all the other humiliation and stress of a 24/7 press circus with every Bozo out there trying to outdo the other in suggesting that things are more salacious than they are, seeing who can bash Edwards more than the next, particularly when they've already worked it through and have gone on. They've gone on in the face of Elizabeth's terminal cancer. I think the only decent thing to do is to let them live their lives and face their struggles.
Piling on seems just so.... wrong.