Former Presidential Candidate John Edwards Indicted: A Long, Ugly Fall
Two-time former presidential candidate John Edwards has been indicted on six federal charges of conspiracy, illegal campaign contributions(4 counts), and making false statements. The charges relate to his affair with former campaign videographer Reille Hunter and the child that was produced from that affair. Edwards allegedly used payments from various sources to conspire to keep the child he had with Hunter a secret during his second run for president, including relocating Hunter and the child during the 2008 election in order to avoid detection by the media.
Although nothing should be surprising when it comes to politics and politicians, this situation is particularly disturbing and despicable. Of course we know that legally-speaking a person is innocent until proven guilty, but the majority of the dirtiest parts of this case are public record and have been (reluctantly) admitted to by Edwards himself. He admitted that he had an affair with Hunter, and that he got her pregnant. He also eventually admitted to publicly denying he was the father for an extended period of time, to protect his image and aspirations. He also allegedly had former campaign staffer Andrew Young claim to be the father of the child, to deflect suspicion from himself. Oh, and all of this was taking place while his wife Elizabeth Edwards was battling cancer, a battle she unfortunately lost last year.
Aside from the ugliness relating to the affair and child, the other aspect of this that is unfortunate is that from a political perspective, John Edwards likely would have been a powerful force within the Democratic Party, whether as president or in some other capacity. He was easily the more natural Progressive than current President Obama, who was always more of a moderate (despite what the Tea Partiers and Fox News would like you to believe). Edwards focused on issues relating to poverty and criminal justice far more than any of the other well-known Democratic candidates during both of his runs for president.
Now, regardless of what comes of the impending trial, his political career is over. Although he would have lost a lot even if he had been truthful about the affair and child from the beginning, he would not likely be facing serious felony charges, and the damage to his image and reputation may have been repairable. In politics people tend to have short-term memories bordering on amnesia. There are plenty of current well-known politicians who have had affairs, children out-of-wedlock, solicited prostitutes,etc. Edwards hurt himself most by attempting to cover-up the truth, which we have learned can be viewed worse than the actual wrongdoing. Hopefully he has learned some lesson from all of this, and(regardless of the trial outcome) will move on in a more honest, productive manner.