Gary Hart was a presidential candidate with real substance and significant campaign experience, in 1987, when newspapers broke the story that substantiatedthe rumors that had circled around Hart since he had announced his candidacy. From wikipedia:
Rumors began circulating nearly immediately that Hart was having an extramarital affair. In an interview that appeared in the New York Times on May 3, 1987, Hart responded to the rumors by daring the press corps: "Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored." The Miami Herald had been investigating Hart's rumored womanizing for weeks before the "dare" appeared in the New York Times. Two reporters from the Miami Herald had staked out his residence and observed an attractive young woman coming out of Hart's Washington, D.C., townhouse on the evening of May 2. The Herald published the story on Sunday, May 3, the same day Hart's dare appeared in print, and the scandal spread rapidly through the national media. Hart and his allies attacked the Herald for rushing the story into print, claiming that it had unfairly judged the situation without finding out the true facts. Hart claimed that the reporters had not watched both entrances to his home and could not have seen when the young woman entered and left the building. The Miami Herald reporter had flown to Washington, D.C. on the same flight as the woman, identified as Donna Rice. Hart was dogged with questions regarding his views on marital infidelity.
Gary Hart's denials and challenges to the media exacerbated the impact of the scandal. Hopefully our candidates are smarter than that now. If not, we need to figure out how to create a political and moral code that works for progressives, a frame that says human love and consensual sex between adults is always better than war, and find candidates that can be progressive champions and not activate frames of conservative family values/religiosity and right-wing frames on national security.
On issues of both love and war John Edwards has failed to create space for progressives. For me, his initial support for the war, which was calculated to satisfy conservatives on national security is the greater failure, greater than his failure to be bold about whatever relationship he had with Rielle Hunter.
As said in the Op-Ed piece from The Nation available briefly today on Yahoo News,
If the story is true, John Edwards is finished as a contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
The story is the National Enquirer top-of-the-page cover article -- which is set to go on sale at the checkout counters of the supermarkets and drug stores of Iowa, New Hampshire and the other 48 states Wednesday morning -- that claims the former senator from North Carolina is the father of a soon-to-be-born "love child."
The article claims Edwards, who has long burnished an image as the consummate family man and whose wife Elizabeth is a key player in his campaign, had an 18-month affair with female staffer who traveled with the candidate during the current campaign.
I am confused as to why The Nation would call an affair and a pregnancy something that would effectively end the John Edwards bid for the nomination... John Edwards initial support for the war against Iraq and his unwillingness to support single payer universal healthcare are greater sins (for someone running as a supposed progressive champion) than run of the mill "weakness of flesh". John Edwards apparently has enough money to support multiple wives... and has done better than Newt Gingrich, if these rumors are true, because he has not cut his lifelong partner, and mother of his children, out his life as a result of this affair - nor has he abandoned responsibility for the care of any unborn child...
Whatever John Edwards truth is on this matter, he should speak it now and capture the free traffic that is available on the internet, and he should say something so obvious and so loving that it frees progressives up from the expectation that we will behave like hypocrite toe-tappers and destroy lives to keep up appearances. He needs to avoid sabotaging himself with denials if they will not be borne out by facts, ignoring the rumors or issuing reckless challenges to the media - mistakes that have brought down frontrunners with even more substance and experience than Edwards has.
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