The New York Times Reports on The Edwards Scandal

The New York Times story on John Edwards’ affair with Rielle Hunter yesterday  didn’t really contain anything more than I’ve noted in previous posts. Perhaps just appearing in the Times gives this story more prominence as it remains highly ranked on Memeorandum and has received numerous blog links. The story reports on the grand jury investigation into whether the hush money paid to keep the affair quiet violates campaign finance laws and states that “he is considering declaring that he is the father of Ms. Hunter’s 19-month-old daughter.”

While this is all material which has come out earlier, for those who have not been following the story, here’s the juicy parts:

Wade M. Smith, a Raleigh lawyer who represents Mr. Edwards, declined to comment on the paternity issue directly, but said in a statement that “there may be a statement on that subject at some point, but there is no timetable and we will see how we feel about it as events unfold.”

The notion that Mr. Edwards is the father has been reinforced by the account of Andrew Young, once a close aide to Mr. Edwards, who had signed an affidavit asserting that he was the father of Ms. Hunter’s child.

Mr. Young, who has since renounced that statement, has told publishers in a book proposal that Mr. Edwards knew all along that he was the child’s father. He said Mr. Edwards pleaded with him to accept responsibility falsely, saying that would reduce the story to one of an aide’s infidelity.

In the proposal, which The New York Times examined, Mr. Young says that he assisted the affair by setting up private meetings between Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter. He wrote that Mr. Edwards once calmed an anxious Ms. Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band.

I’ve heard of the promises to marry Hunter before, but the promised appearance of the Dave Matthews Band is a trivial but new point to me.

Not surprisingly many conservative blogs have linked to the story. When this story first broke it often seemed like Liberal Values was the only liberal blog following it. As Edwards’ initial denials were admitted to be untrue, even many liberal  bloggers are now discussing this, sometimes denying the full extent of the scandal. Talk Left complains that the Times story “mixes factual reporting and hearsay from a tabloid-type.” The fact of the matter is that, from the start of this story, the information has first come from the tabloids, and the tabloid accounts have later been shown to be correct.

Many liberal bloggers are primarily disappointed that Edwards was willing to run for the nomination despite the risks that this scandal would break during the 2008 campaign, likely allowing the Republicans to remain in office if Edwards had won the Democratic nomination. MyDD writes:

John Edwards is a persona non grata in the Democratic party. This sad and sordid episode continues to devolve simply because John Edwards cannot admit to the truth. Instead, Mr. Edwards choses willfully to save whatever grace he may yet possess. It is not as much the affair nor the child out of wedlock, though there is that, but the hubris with which Mr. Edwards has acted since the allegations were proven to have a certain validity. Moreover, how does one even contemplate a run at the Presidency given a personal life in disarray?

That is true, but I continue to think that the real moral of the story is that there is a need to recognize that there are dishonest and opportunistic politicians on both sides of the aisle. I had described John Edwards as one of the slimier politicians around well before the Rielle Hunter scandal surfaced. There has been plenty of evidence of this throughout his career. This began when he was an attorney who made his fortune by convincing southern juries that birth defects were caused by medical malpractice and was again seen at multiple points in his political career (which I’ve mentioned in several previous posts).

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9 Comments

  1. 1
    Timbucke2er says:

    If I am not mistaken, MyDD denied the affair initially and labeled anyone who followed it ignorant scum.

  2. 2
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Edwards isn’t my favorite Democrat. I thought he sounded just like a Republican on far too many issues in 2004, and while I agreed with much of what he said in 2008 I wasn’t sure what to think of such a sea change. I gave him the benefit of the doubt since he had the grace to admit specific mistakes in a manner rarely seen by professional politicians.
     
    One thing I will say for Edwards is that he tapped into the way people feel, and spoke to people about their feelings in a way that Democrats have not done since Bill Clinton. Edwards was the only serious candidate to talk about poverty as a serious issue in 2004 or 2008. Most Democrats have abandoned the issues of poverty and labor to become middle class crusaders against the rich and the poor alike.
     
    I didn’t vote for Edwards in ’04 or ’08. I certainly don’t think he should run again, American politics being what it is, with the scandal hanging around him. I, personally, don’t care about the scandal, though. The only political affairs I care about are the peccadilloes of the religious right, and my objection is because of the religious right’s posture of superiority when they tell others how to live their lives and handle their sex lives. If it were just about the sex, it wouldn’t be any of my business.
     
    The fact that embezzling and frauds may have been committed does bother me, just as it bothers me that Bill Clinton perjured himself in court. However, in a media culture where politicians’ secrets are counters in a blood sport to see who can spill the most trash on the road, I think people can’t afford to express shock and amazement that public figures lie to keep their secrets secret. The misuse of campaign funds make it unlikely I would vote for Edwards in the future, but I was unlikely to vote for him in the past as well.
     
    Speaking for myself and no one else, I don’t think I’ve written about the sex lives of any politicians on my own blog. I don’t consider it an important enough issue to take my time away from the economy and civil rights, which are the big focus of my blog.
     
    I don’t say all this because I am in anyway criticizing Ron, just explaining why my corner of the liberal blogosphere hasn’t touched the issue. 🙂
     

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    “One thing I will say for Edwards is that he tapped into the way people feel…”

    I saw that more as changing his political pitch to fit what he thought would work as opposed to holding principles, therefore sounding totally different for the 2008 race compared to the past.

    To totally avoid sex scandals is fine. It is a different matter when bloggers make a big deal out of the scandals of the opposing party and ignore or deny those of their party.

  4. 4
    Ernie Vogel says:

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  5. 5
    ehvogel says:

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  6. 6
    Diedre Lanson says:

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  7. 7
    diedrelanson says:

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  8. 8
    Eclectic Radical says:

    “I saw that more as changing his political pitch to fit what he thought would work as opposed to holding principles, therefore sounding totally different for the 2008 race compared to the past.”
     
    I agree with this, when it comes to Iraq. However, most people who flip-flop so drastically on such a big issue usually go through some elaborate act pretending their original opinion didn’t stand at all and Edwards was very frank in discussing that a change had actually taken place. As opposed to Mitt Romney running on a conservative platform as if he’d never been a liberal Republican in the first place and never acknowledging just how liberal he had been or claimed to have been.
     
    Lots of people make calculated political changes, few of them face the facts of the substantive change the way Edwards did.
     
    And he always talked about poverty and tapped into a lot of classic, New Deal era Southern populism. Even when he sounded like a Republican on Iraq.
     
     
    “To totally avoid sex scandals is fine. It is a different matter when bloggers make a big deal out of the scandals of the opposing party and ignore or deny those of their party.”
     
    That, sadly, is the nature of partisan politics. We see it all the time in conservative blogs, where ‘x’ is evil when done by Democrats but just fine when done by Republicans and ‘y’ is a great idea when Republicans suggest it but stupid when suggested by Democrats. Quite a few liberals are not immune from this either.
     
    I agree that’s wrong, I was just explaining my own tendency to totally ignore the issue unless there is some reason not to do so… either the fundamental hypocrisy of people who hate sex having so much (the religious right) or issues like Mark Sanford’s misuse of state and federal resources to facilitate his screwing around, on top of being one of the people who claims to hate sex so much. 😉
     

  9. 9
    battlebob says:

    I heard Edwards at an ACORN rally to raise the minimum wage in 2004 (Both ACORN and Edwards have since gone down the tubes). His “born-in-a-log-cabin” stump speech was well-received by those working to raise the minimum wage. He has a lot fo faults and you can make the case that his own foundation in North Carolina is a bit of flim-flam. But for this issue he did good work.

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