Is it possible to be a bigger jerk than John Edwards? Probably not.
But his wife and some former campaign aides are giving it a shot.
You remember John Edwards. He ran for president in the Democratic
primaries in 2004 and 2008, and was John Kerry's running mate in 2004.
After running a poor third in the early primaries, Mr. Edwards dropped
out of the race.
In July, the tabloid National Enquirer revealed he'd
had an affair and likely a child with a ditzy campaign aide while
his wife, Elizabeth, suffered from incurable cancer. That put an end to
Mr. Edwards' hopes of becoming Barack Obama's running mate.
Mr. Edwards popped back into the news when it was revealed the FBI is
investigating whether the payment of more than $100,000 to his mistress,
Rielle Hunter, violated federal campaign laws, and wife Elizabeth went
onto Oprah to tout her new book.
There was little likelihood Mr. Edwards could have beaten Barack Obama
or Hillary Clinton last year, but campaign aides had a "doomsday" plan
to make sure it wouldn't happen, ABC's George Stephanopoulos said
"Basically, if it looked like Edwards was going to win the Democratic
nomination, they were going to sabotage his campaign, several former
Edwards' staffers have told me," Mr. Stephanopoulos wrote on his blog.
The aides were upset because Mr. Edwards had lied to them about the
affair, Mr. Stephanopoulos said.
I don't believe the story. It sounds to me as if the unnamed aides were
making an after the fact excuse for why they were working for such a
rotten human being. But if the story is true, the aides paint an
unflattering portrait of themselves. If they had come to the conclusion
Mr. Edwards was unfit for the presidency, the honorable thing to do was
to resign, and to tell the news media why. It was dishonorable to
continue to cash their paychecks while plotting against him.
Much of Mr. Edwards' appeal was sympathy for Elizabeth's losing battle
with breast cancer. Her love for her husband was so great, and her
faith in him so strong that she wanted him to run for president despite
her ailment. Or so the story went.
But Elizabeth's halo got tarnished when it was revealed she knew about
John's adultery before his second run for president, and supported him
"So while Elizabeth Edwards was certainly victimized by John, she also
became not just his co-conspirator but also his attack dog," wrote Roger
Simon of the webzine Politico. "Was she being used by him? Or did she
want to get to the White House as badly as he did?"
Rehashing the affair in her book can only cause the Edwards' children
embarrassment, wrote New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
"John and Elizabeth Edwards have proven themselves the perfect match,"
wrote Kyle Smith of the New York Post. "On the one hand, you've got a
lying, hypocritical, power-hungry narcissist. And then there's her
I don't think much of either John or Elizabeth. But most of my contempt
is reserved for my fellow journalists. John's affair was no secret to
many covering his campaign, but it wasn't reported on until after his
campaign had imploded, and the National Enquirer had provided
John was always a phony, crusading against poverty while getting $400
haircuts and living in a 28,000 square foot mansion. His single term in
the Senate was devoid of accomplishment. But he was handsome and spoke
well, so journalists treated him as if he were a serious person.
"All campaigns are about imagery and manipulation. But stripping away
this gloss is supposed to be one of the media's jobs," wrote Washington
Post columnist Marie Cocco. "That we helped create Edwards as a
national figure and now cover his wife's book promotion as a worthy
story is a measure of not just what's gone wrong for them, but what's
wrong with us."
Can you think of another handsome, articulate Democrat of no discernible
accomplishment into whose past the reporters covering him are unwilling