Friday, August 08, 2008

John Edwards

Many of my longtime readers know that I supported John Edwards' candidacy.

When I heard the rumors last year, and again a few weeks ago, I thought that it was baloney. I didn't deny that Edwards was capable of an affair - he's a good-looking, wealthy guy with a high profile and a strong opinion of himself. However, his relationship with his wife seemed rock-solid, and the evidence from the Enquirer seemed suspect. There were no photographs. There was no hard proof. And after all, it was a supermarket tabloid. I chose to ignore the rumors.

I don't know yet how I think about the confession by Edwards of his affair - his short-term affair that he says ended two years ago. I don't care, frankly, to know how long it went on, how it ended, how many times they slept together. None of it is my business.

He has spoken out and so has his wife. I bear both of their statements in mind.

John Edwards Statement

Elizabeth Edwards Statement

However, I cared about this man and I committed myself to his presidency. I was moved by his support of poverty issues, by his highlighting of issues being ignored by most other candidates. I would have willingly followed him all the way to the convention, and then to the White House.

Who knows when this would have surfaced if he had become the frontrunner instead of Obama? In New Hampshire? In Nevada? Before the nomination? Who knows, if he had become the candidate, what would have happened to his candidacy if this story had broken in September or October?

Edwards made a foolish mistake, as millions of men and women have also made. But he was running for president with this in his back pocket. He ended the affair - he announced his candidacy on December 28, 2006. He lied about this affair for nearly a year - beginning in October of last year - knowing that it was true. His wife knew the truth, but he strung the rest of us along for his entire candidacy and beyond. We believed in him, and when he said the rumors were bunk, we believed him because we believed in him. We were lied to, all of us. I cannot just let this go. I cannot reconcile this with platitudes about his privacy or about the fallibility of the human condition.

He lied to me, and the National Enquirer had to bring the news that he was a liar. Thank you very much, John.

Sure, it never should have become public. Sure. Sure, he deserves his privacy. But goddammit, he knew this was going to come back and bite him eventually. He's a public figure, and things like this do not just go away. (And if he wanted it to go away, what the hell was he doing visiting this woman in July 2008? He says he ended the affair in 2006 - why was he still visiting her last month?)

I don't know who I'm angriest with - the press or John Edwards. But Meteor Blades wrote a white-hot post on Kos that stuck with me.

You knew when you declared for the presidency that this affair hung over you, that it might easily come to light. That it could, had you gained the nomination, have wrecked the party’s chances for winning the White House, tamped down support for Democrats running for seats in Congress, and set progressives back a decade. You knew that when you kept your name in the hopper for the vice presidency.

But you kept running anyway. You lied. And you got others to lie for you. You did this knowing full well the damage that could be done, not to your marriage, but to the party and the aspirations for better governance of those who looked to you as a leader who could help bring it about.

Your populist message was and is a crucial one, the source of much of your support, the reason that many of us backed you even though your past record on an array of issues, including Iraq, gave us pause. We gave you credit for changing your mind. Your speaking out for the needs of a sector of the population previously ignored by other candidates created a powerful and loyal constituency.

You have made it clear that you cared more about yourself than about that constituency. Than about us. You were willing to take a chance that you would be nominated for the Presidency and that the revelation of this affair would put a Republican in the White House, ironically, a Republican who betrays and mistreats the women in his life, too.

So that's what Meteor thinks.

As I said before, I don't really know what to think about this. What do you think? Tell me where you're at on this. I hate having to talk about this, but we're here, and it's out, so we might as well talk about it.

1 comment:

Eric said...

On a personal level I hope the Edwards can overcome this roadblock. On a political level it's a little unnerving to think how close he came to being the nominee with this baggage in his trunk. But at the same time, it's funny how the current crop of hawks can and will crow about people who lie to cover infidelity, but they won't do a damn thing about people who lie to perpetrate a war. It's a no-brainer which lie is ruining more people's finances and which lie is responsible for more deaths. As with Bill Clinton, I'm willing to leave this matter to be worked out between the people it affects the most. But overall, if the worst you can sling at Edwards is adultery, I would support him as second in command. And for the right-of-center self-righteous brigade in the audience, for reasons mentioned above don't come at me with "He lied", I ain't buying it.