Editorial: Did he or didn’t he? And does it really matter?


Everybody loves a pregnancy scandal, and last week we got hit with a couple of big ones. Had we not had a presidential election looming in the next year, the big story might be the announcement by Nickelodeon network personality Jamie Lyn Spears, 16-year-old sister of faded pop star Britney, that, to paraphrase Madonna, she’s keeping her baby.

And it’s too bad, really, because we could have a lot of fun batting that one around in this space.

But the revelation by the National Enquirer that Reille Hunter, the 43-year-old former staffer on the John Edwards campaign, is six months pregnant with the candidate’s baby takes precedence as the race for the Democratic nomination heats up.

The story has local connotations – Hunter is currently living in Edwards’ hometown of Chapel Hill and was spotted in Cary visiting an OB/GYN. And who knew there were paparazzi in Cary?

And what makes it all the more juicy is that Edwards, who was once called a “faggot” by Ann Coulter, has been married for more than 30 years. To the same woman. Who has cancer.

In fact Elizabeth Edwards announced a relapse of breast cancer roughly three months before this baby was conceived.

We are further intrigued by the assertion in New York magazine that Hunter was once the paramour of the writer Jay McInerney – of whom we are sometime fans – and that she was the inspiration for the lead character in Story of My Life, which, if you ask us, is kind of like a Catcher in the Rye from a female perspective.

Still, there’s no conclusive proof that the presidential candidate fathered this baby, and it is unlikely that there will be a televised paternity test like on “The Maury Povich Show.”

The young Spears sister on the other hand….

At any rate, both Edwards and Hunter firmly deny the allegation, and at this point it has devolved into a he said/she said matter that, barring any surprises, will live only as a matter of speculation.

But does it matter?

Perhaps not. The speculation is there, and those looking to condemn or absolve Edwards without the certainty of fact will no doubt act on their judgment. While Edwards won’t be gaining many votes from the religious right on this one, he won’t lose too many of his die-hards.

And were he a Republican, this surely would have been a deal-breaker.

But will this hurt Edwards in the Democratic primary, where he’s held firm as an alternative to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?

Again, he may manage to wiggle out of this one, as Bill Clinton did when confronted with Gennifer Flowers during his 1992 presidential bid. Recent history has shown his party to be forgiving on matters like this as long as the platform resonates.

And it will certainly raise his profile among people who thought he was that guy on TV who talks to dead people.

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