Alright, yes, he had an affair. Yes, he lied about it numerous times. Yes, this occurred while he was campaigning for the highest office in America. Yes, this will probably end any major political ambitions that Edwards might have held, as it well should. Yes, he is sleazy and should rightfully have a lot of work to do with his family to reconcile for his actions. But should we really be surprised? Furthermore, should we really disregard everything the man has ever said or stood for? There are a few things to bear in mind, while this story plays out in the public eye.
#1. Personal vs. Public
Edwards' conduct was, and should be, a personal matter. Yes, the public should know about it, but we don't need to delve into the sordid details of his affair. This is something that should remain between him and his family. His affair does not affect public policy or the direction that the United States is headed. If his campaign made improper payments for services this woman provided, then by all means, that should be investigated. But contrast Edwards' improper conduct with say, any top member of the Bush administration in the run-up to the war in Iraq. What were the consequences of the Bush administration's blatant lies and deceit, not only to the American people but to the Global community? I'll take a politician lying about a personal matter that is contained within his family to one whose lies negatively impact the entire globe for many, many years.
#2 Democrat vs. Republican
Republican pundits have been quick to jump on this story, taking a particular delight at the prospect of lambasting this "Southern do-gooder". Of course, they have every right to print whatever they'd like about the Edwards' affair. But let's keep in mind, this isn't an isolated incident among Democratic politicians. Have we forgot such Republican do-gooders as Larry Craig, Mark Foley, and Ted Haggard? These types of incidents take place on both sides of the aisle and we shouldn't forget that the Edwards' affair isn't an isolated incident amongst politicians. For a more detailed look into Republican Sex Affairs, click Here
#3 Conduct vs. Policy
As despicable as Edwards' actions were, this incident should not force us to disregard his policy ideas entirely. For a great number of Americans, Edwards' ideas represented a sharp contrast with current political policies and were seen as a beacon of hope on the political landscape. His proposed plan for truly universal health care, which he had laid out in very specific details, was just one of his policy ideas that should not be lost in this affair. His proposal for a Rural Recovery Act, his plan for tax simplification with "Form 1", his comprehensive plan to significantly reduce poverty, and his plan to shut down abusive lenders and create realistic alternatives are just some of his political platforms that should be embraced by current and future politicians, as they provide the groundwork for affecting real political change.
And now for something completely different:
Interesting Slate article here on how this whole debacle might actually hurt McCain the most... Here