John made a terrible mistake in 2006. The fact that it is a mistake that many others have made before him did not make it any easier for me to hear when he told me what he had done. But he did tell me. And we began a long and painful process in 2006, a process oddly made somewhat easier with my diagnosis in March of 2007. This was our private matter, and I frankly wanted it to be private because as painful as it was I did not want to have to play it out on a public stage as well. Because of a recent string of hurtful and absurd lies in a tabloid publication, because of a picture falsely suggesting that John was spending time with a child it wrongly alleged he had fathered outside our marriage, our private matter could no longer be wholly private.I would love to just ignore this breaking story. Pull the covers over my head and wait for it to go away. But because I was an ardent supporter of John Edwards for president, I can’t. It would be hypocritical to criticize some but not others. To ignore the beam in my candidate’s eye.
John has spoken in a long on-camera interview I hope you watch. Admitting one’s mistakes is a hard thing for anyone to do, and I am proud of the courage John showed by his honesty in the face of shame. The toll on our family of news helicopters over our house and reporters in our driveway is yet unknown. But now the truth is out, and the repair work that began in 2006 will continue. I ask that the public, who expressed concern about the harm John’s conduct has done to us, think also about the real harm that the present voyeurism does and give me and my family the privacy we need at this time.
Make no mistake about it. What John Edwards did was wrong, immoral, and sinful.
He cheated on his wife, broke his marriage vow and engaged in adultery. That’s the most important part. But he also betrayed the many supporters who believed in him and were willing to walk through fire for his candidacy. How many are now breathing a sigh of relief and whispering, “Thank God he’s not our candidate”?
And what if he was? How could we have recovered from that shock and gone on to win in November? We couldn’t. How could he even consider running for office with that skeleton in his closet. How could he even consider having an affair if he had presidential ambitions?
Edwards has explained that somewhere along the way while running for office he began to feel that he was special, above the ordinary morality of mere mortals. It’s no excuse for betraying your wife and family. But he’s not the first. He won’t be the last. And none of that excuses it. Period.
But I must add, for those in the other party, who’ve always licked their lips at any sign of hypocrisy from him – the $400 haircut, the big house – you live in a glass house on this one.
Former presidential candidate, Rudolph Giuliani, famously cheated on his second wife, Donna Hanover, (he was already divorced from wife #1). And he announced his divorce from Ms. Hanover on television before even informing her. Then, she booted him out of Gracie Mansion and he went to live with an openly gay couple, while conducting his very public affair with Judith Nathan, who now likes to refer to herself as “Mrs. G.”
Newt Gingrich was a serial cheat and deserter of sick women. He asked his first wife for a divorce while she was recovering from surgery for breast cancer. Then, he asked his second wife, Marianne, for a divorce, to marry his current wife, with whom he had been having an affair. Marianne was diagnosed with MS just eight months before Gingrich informed her of the divorce filing.
John McCain began an affair with his current wife, Cindy, while still married to his first wife, Carol, who had been in an accident that left her deformed. He had extenuating circumstances. He had returned from years of torture and prison in Vietnam. It changes a man. He probably felt, after all his own very real suffering and all those years of dreaming of all the normal things that young men dream of, that he was entitled to a pretty wife and a happy life. Then, too, we all know about the parallel patrons of call girls, David Vitter and Elliot Spitzer. (For more insight into the peccadillos of candidates, here's a fairly good wrap up that puts it in perspective)
I’m not pointing this out to deflect from John Edwards’ transgression. But merely to remind everybody to be less arrogant. Gloat less. Walk more humbly with your God. Because when it comes to sin, it’s bi-partisan. And non partisan. In fact, St. Paul, in Romans 3:23, sums it up best, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.”