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Infidelity thins convention ranks
One of Mr. Edwards’ aides - a married man himself - stepped forward to claim paternity of the paramour’s child. Revelations that Mr. Edwards had spent $144,000 in campaign donations to pay his mistress to produce a few publicity videos also came to light. Melodrama ensued.
“In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up, feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help,” Mr. Edwards said in the aftermath.
And “beat up” is what he got. The events sparked a damaging hail of global press coverage from news organizations large and small - including shrill admonishments.
“Unfortunately, with John Edwards, behind the slickly coiffed Ken doll hair was betrayal, arrogance and an inflated ego. At best, he can be described as a flawed human being. At worst, he’s yet another politician who has played the public false, showing there are fathomless depths of betrayal many supporters just didn’t see,” said an editorial in the Chillicothe Gazette, an Ohio paper.
The affair was the end of the Democrats’ “golden boy,” said the Times of London.
“I can’t say I was surprised to hear that John Edwards had cheated on his wife, Elizabeth. In a lot of ways, candidates are in the seduction business,” observed Mark Hare, a columnist with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Though there was considerable coverage of the Edwards affair, some say it garnered some powder-puff treatment in the mainstream news media, and was a part of a greater trend to protect some Democratic candidates.
“Anyone watching the TV stories found a tone of sadness, of the outraged disappointment of Edwards supporters like campaign manager David Bonior. That’s acceptable. But the story came almost entirely from within the Edwards bubble. You couldn’t find in these stories any time for Republicans, and it was rare to find anyone asking not about Edwards, but about the Democrats in general. How would this taint them?” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center.
But when the proverbial push comes to shove, will the shame factor be an influence in the convention, Democratic unity or the presidential election itself?
“Broadly, I don’t think all of this will have a big impact on the convention, though it may make it a little harder for Democrats to remind people about Republican sins. If there’s any place I’d look for damage, it would be among voters in Michigan and Ohio. The Detroit mayor is involved, number one. Republicans, meanwhile, have been in total free fall in Ohio for about two years,” said pollster Scott Rasmussen.
“Still, at the end of the day, people are going to go in the polling booth and either vote for John McCain or Barack Obama. These assorted Democratic travails will get overridden,” Mr. Rasmussen added.
If anything, Democrats could be more fired up now than they were before the party’s seductive news became public.
“Indicative of the interest in the Denver gathering and the higher level of voter enthusiasm in the Democratic primaries in the spring, 56 percent of Democrats say they are more likely to watch the conventions this year, versus 19 percent who say they are less likely to watch,” said a Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters released Wednesday.
Among Republicans, 40 percent felt the same fervor, the survey found.
Mr. Zogby, meanwhile, has faith that the discerning nation craves authenticity in its elected officials - and that there is some authenticity still surviving in the political dialogue.
About the Author
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