Dear Mr. Edwards,
I cannot conceive of a way in which you could have failed this country more grandly than you just did. You said in your interview on ABC recently that “nobody can beat up on me more than I have already beat up on myself.” Allow me to sincerely try and prove you wrong.
You were the best candidate for president this year. Your policies and proposals were far superior to your opponents; both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton only began discussing universal health care and other policies after you brought them up. You are one of the more photogenic political candidates in recent memory and had somehow found a way to get people to look past your failure to help John Kerry win the 2004 election.
All of this speaks to your skill as a politician, making one all the more incredulous when they consider your inept handling of the Rielle Hunter sex scandal.
What the hell were you thinking?
Had you learned nothing from the errors of Bill Clinton and Eliot Spitzer? Could you have been the one politician who came right out and admitted your errors to the public? You had, by your own account, already done so to your wife two years earlier, it’s not like she would have been in for a shock.
Doing so would not only have been a refreshing change of pace from usual American politics, it would have preserved the unwavering faith in you displayed by your supporters (as opposed to horribly betraying them like you did).
Prior to recent events, I had held out hope that you would run again in 2012, if for no other reason than to keep the other candidates honest. I didn’t think you’d really do very well, but I was hoping maybe you’d do it anyway since you (purportedly) care about the underprivileged and working class in America. But now I wouldn’t want you to; you’ve shown your true colors and they bring to mind revulsion and disgust.
Not because you cheated on your wife (JFK and others have shown that marital fidelity is no barometer for presidential success), but because you’ve shown a depressing unwillingness to trust your constituents with the truth. We’re grown-ups; we can handle it.
Your excuse that you had become narcissistic and ego-driven on the campaign trail raises a considerable amount of wonderment. To what extent does ego cloud the presumably sharp mind of a trial lawyer and politician? Apparently to the extent that a previously honorable individual becomes transformed into a weasely charlatan, pulling the rug out from under thousands of people at once.
Of course, that’s assuming that the honorable, caring, populist persona you cultivated wasn’t some kind of sham disguising your true character. I suppose it is only appropriate that the man who rekindled my faith in politics be the one to snuff it out again.
There is always the chance that you will learn from this and move on; that you will attempt to make amends. I sincerely hope that you do. Perhaps you will follow in the footsteps of your 2004 running mate John Kerry, who, though belatedly, is growing a spine.
Kerry recently launched truthfightsback.com, a website dedicated to clearing the name of Democratic political candidates who find themselves smeared by their Republican counterparts (e.g. the mudslinging regarding Kerry’s military record). You will, of course, find yourself unmentioned on this website, because the “tabloid trash”, as you called it, is apparently true.
It is a sad day, Mr. Edwards, when the National Enquirer is a more reliable source of information than yourself.
I can only hope you take this unforgivable breach in conduct as a learning experience and comport yourself with more maturity and intelligence in the future.
Especially if you plan a return to public service.
RICHARD PROCTER did not enjoy this column but thought it needed to be said anyway. Join the club by sending him comments about his column to firstname.lastname@example.org.