If unspeakably sleazy Americans could be stripped of membership in the human race, former vice presidential candidate and presidential wannabe John Edwards would be at the top of the order.
Revelations in a new book by an Edwards campaign aide are simultaneously nauseating and infuriating. Edwards comes off as a fiend.
He betrayed his wife and other Americans by posing as a man fit to lead his country. He denied an adulterous affair, then lied about fathering a child. He used a friend to shield his lies and spare him public rebuke.
Edwards outdid other squalid public figures whose shadowy secret lives have been recently unmasked. Sinking into the ghoulish, he reportedly asked his mistress to wait until his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, died and then he'd marry her.
From the start of his entry into national politics, Edwards was too much for many Americans. The business about $400 haircuts during campaigning by a stylist he flew in from afar, for example. The multimillionaire trial lawyer contriving the image of the little man's plain Joe. The fixed Pepsodent smile. The oily public displays of marital bliss and devotion to his ill wife.
Edwards was unhorsed the same way as so many other Republican and Democratic politicians who indulged themselves—President Clinton and Monica; New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and his $5,000 trysts with a prostitute; Sen. David Vitter on a D.C. madam's call list; Gov. Mark Sanford and his Argentine mistress; Sen. John Ensign's affair with an aide's wife, to name some.
Edwards was too clever by half and too arrogant to understand his stupidity.
Making Edwards the worst of this lot were the breadth and depravity of his betrayals and lies, his conduct while asking voters in 2008 to give him the highest office in the land. Rather than initially acknowledging his affair and the baby he fathered, the coward Edwards used an aide to confess to the affair and the child.
A grand jury is investigating whether Edwards used campaign funds as hush money to conceal his secret. One can only hope the worst for Edwards.
Imagine the catastrophe had he won the presidency.
The White House could've been occupied by a president who fathered a love child born of adultery on the campaign trail with a hired videographer. Would his mistress be first lady? Or, his cancerous wife, until she died and he could wed the campaign trail lover?
Or, true to character, would Edwards have lied to his mistress about a wedding, and instead paid her and the baby to get lost?