On the Fall of John Edwards

John Edwards.

As long-time Allynologists know, in the Democratic primaries of 2008, John Edwards was my candidate. I donated money to his campaign. I blogged about Edwards, his positions, and his media coverage, like how Edwards most resembled the Viking berserker, or how Edwards was the heir to Teddy Roosevelt’s mantle of progressivism. And I ordered campaign goodies like t-shirts and bumper stickers.

When Edwards suspended his campaign, I was a bit depressed. I once called Edwards “the shining hope of the Democratic party.”

Last summer, months after his departure from the Democratic primaries, the world learned that Edwards had had an affair. Worse, he may have fathered a child with his mistress, while his own wife suffered from cancer. At that point, Edwards’ personal failings didn’t matter, but imagine if Edwards had secured the Democratic nomination? A few months ago, Slate mused on what might have happened had Edwards been the Democratic nominee. We might have a President John McCain at this very moment. Or Edwards might’ve been elected, and we’d have a wounded Presidency.

What might have been. The world is filled with those.

What brings this all to mind? According to the New York Times, Edwards is reportedly moving toward an admission that he fathered his mistress’ daughter. Under investigation by a North Carolina grand jury, a tell-all book by one of his campaign aides in development, Edwards may be making this admission in an attempt to get out in front of the bad news.

How do I, the Edwards supporter, feel?

Sad, I suppose.

We all have our failings. Edwards had his. Unfortunately, his failings were more public, with more potential landmines, than the failings others may have.

There’s a part of me that hopes for Edwards to make some sort of return to the national stage, that the American capacity for redemption and rebirth will enable Edwards to have a second act. He’ll spend his time in the wilderness, and perhaps in eight years, he’ll be reborn.

Maybe that’s just a quixotic hope speaking. Or maybe it’s the honest appraisal of American political history.

Edwards had a powerful voice. He spoke to progressive ideals of equality and justice that, frankly, I’m not sure our President has matched, though, of course, Obama has a different voice.

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