You’re an asshole, John Edwards. Adultery is a private offense, of course, a matter to be resolved between you and your wife. How she chooses to deal with this ought not to be something that holier-than-thou pundits argue she should behave the way so many did in the case of Hillary Clinton in regards to Bill’s philandering. If she forgives you, as millions have done for their straying spouses, then count yourself lucky.
But I don’t forgive you. And I suspect many of your long-time supporters will not either. How can we? Your betrayal of us and the Democratic Party was not a private matter.
We can all complain with justification that sexual hypocrisy is rife in this country, that it would greatly benefit our collective psyche if everybody would do to others what they expect others to do for them: mind their own business. But it isn’t that way now. Politicians are necessarily in the public eye, and while many a good citizen doesn’t blink at what you’ve just admitted, many do. And that fact can cost us dearly at elections.
One can argue persuasively that it shouldn’t matter. But should isn’t the real world, and it’s delusional to operate these days as a politican with the idea that what you have done doesn’t affect how some people might vote.
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.
Do us all a favor, eh? Disappear for the next three months.