Saturday, August 09, 2008

Edwards Affair: The Fallout

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.


Blogger Dana said...

I agree with your thoughts on this, Laura. Interesting point re opening themselves up to blackmail if he had gotten elected, or if might become a cabinet member.

What a sordid mess this is. If Edwards were truly remorseful and repentant in this, I don't think he would be attempting to justify himself in any way. "...but I didn't love my wife"...."I’m not the first person to do this," he said. Uh huh.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Yes, Edwards seems to be trying to play the "Everybody does this" card, which I don't find a straight-up way of handling the matter.

Thanks much for your thoughts, Dana.

Best wishes,

10:23 AM  
Blogger Ms.Daisy said...

This sordid story is coming out...and I didn't think of it before you mentioned it (everyone, of course, feels sorry for Elizabeth) but she WAS compliant to his wishes of covering up the "liaison" with the other woman and, I think, was wrong in doing so. However, we have no idea what she may have had to put up with from this creep of a husband.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Terri said...

I heard the reports of the affair. Then I heard he admitted to it. I never really followed the story much, because I thought, it was between the Edwards now, but you raised valid points on the blackmail issue and, if he paid off anyone with campaign money that is a crime and needs to be addressed by the courts.

5:17 PM  
Blogger jau said...

Not to mention, by the way, that I don't believe Elizabeth knew about it in 2006. If Edwards has even an ounce of compassion, would he have told her about it when she was at the peak of her illness?? I doubt it. I suspect he told her last year after the campaign ended and when he probably felt everything was falling in on him. That way he could appeal to her sympathy. It's icky but it's far more humanly likely. And explains the odd frozen quality of their faces at that point.

One more thing. I wish it didn't matter whether candidates are engaged in these kinds of behaviors but it does show them to be so human that they are susceptible to dangerous pressures and influence.


6:57 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Interesting theory, Anne.

One blog I read pointed out that Edwards exited the race at the end of January, just prior to the birth of the baby. Coincidence?

Best wishes,

12:32 PM  

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