L.A. Times columnist Tim Rutten, whom I disagree with more often than not, has written a good column on new versus old media and the coverage of the Edwards affair.
His column does raise a question in my mind: did Rutten or anyone else forcefully make the case for the Times investigating the story before Edwards admitted it?
The Times claims today that they had been "pursuing the story prior to Friday," but one wonders just how aggressively they delved into it, particularly as the paper's bloggers were forbidden to mention the existence of the Enquirer story.
Meanwhile, I deeply respect the gentlemen at Power Line, but I found Paul Mirengoff's column last night off the mark. Mirengoff agrees with Elizabeth Edwards that coverage of the affair is "voyeurism" and says he does "not intend to write anything additional about the affair."
What Mirengoff misses is that while the affair in and of itself tells us much about Edwards' character, as with so many matters the significant issue is not the "crime," per se, but the cover-up. Mirengoff dismisses the cover-up as a non-issue which was in the "interest" of not only Edwards, but his family ("it was to his family that Edwards owed his primary obligation here"), and says that thus covering up the affair was "the right thing" for Edwards to do, as long as no laws were broken. I can't agree with that.
There are now many questions about the money trail; it seems very possible that laws have been broken, with Edwards' campaign finance chair handing out significant amounts of money to both Edwards' mistress and the Edwards associate who claims to have fathered her baby. Edwards' financial contributors deserve to have the money trail investigated and clarified.
Further, issues regarding Mr. and Mrs. Edwards' personal judgment spill over into the political realm. This was not simply a family matter. Both knew about the affair when he was running for President, and disregarded the devastation a belated disclosure could cause for their supporters or their party. What if Edwards had actually received the nomination he sought and the affair was disclosed just prior to the election?
This brings us to a very serious issue which I haven't seen addressed by anyone, and is something I think Mirengoff should particularly consider: Edwards, by covering up the affair, opened himself up as a prime blackmail target as either a Presidential nominee or President. This is a potential national security issue which Edwards arrogantly failed to recognize, and as such this is far, far more than a "personal" failing which should be left for the family to deal with.
If Senator and Mrs. Edwards wanted this to remain a personal family matter, the responsible thing for them to have done would have been for Senator Edwards to refrain from running for President.