Editorial: Damaged goods

by YES! Weekly staff

Well, it’s news now.

We said it wasn’t way back in December 2007, when this story first broke, when Rielle Hunter was just six months pregnant and John Edwards was still a player in the presidential race. There was no conclusive evidence that he was the father of Hunter’s child, we figured, and the whole thing had devolved into a he said/she said with no resolution in sight.

But when Edwards admitted the affair on national television Friday night, he gave tacit permission to a news media that’s been holding it breath to actually get down to brass tacks and cover this thing.

I mean, it broke in the National Enquirer, of all places, and everybody knows how they operate.

And perhaps the tattletale rag is not a pristine example of the fourth estate — normally it traffics in celebrity cellulite, celebrity beefs, celebrity baby pictures and celebrity divorce, leaving the political arena to more august publications. But they know how to dig the dirt and they know how to turn the screws.

This one’s pretty juicy. Edwards was a big gun in the Democratic Party after his stint as John Kerry’s running mate in 2000. This time around the guy won 61 delegates and drove the party’s platform before cashing it in. He had the charm… the hair and the teeth… that hard-to-resist combination of charisma and conviction that proved to be his downfall.

He’s got a tragic past (he lost a son) and a tragic present (his wife has terminal cancer), but he had a bright future politically — an immediate one — as a possible vice presidential candidate or attorney general, with an absolute lock on a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.

Now he’d be lucky to get a speaking gig at a sex addiction workshop.

But let us leave the disgraced pol and his poor family for a moment. Let’s stop parsing the timeline, stop counting months backwards, stop following the money. Let’s hold our questions, the biggest one being: What the hell was he doing in a California hotel room ar 2 a.m. with a woman he should be staying at least 100 miles away from until December?

Let’s focus on the real effects of this calamity.

Edwards is done, to be sure, but McCain would be a fool not to jump on this as further evidence of moral turpitude among the Democtratic Party, no mattter how far Edwards has beconme from its inner workings in these last few days.

McCain had best tread lightly. In drawing imaginary lines between Obama and Edwards, while invariable invoking the name of the Republican Party’s whipping boy Bill Clinton, people might remember that McCain’s record of marital fidelity is not exactly unblemished, another key difference between the two people who are actually running for president.

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