David Perel, former editor of the National Enquirer, writes today about the Edwards investigation and what the hell went wrong with John. His take: John Edwards is a power-hungry, narcissistic, coddled jerk who thought he could get away with anything.
In the pages of the Wall Street Journal, Perel evinces a certain sense of frustration that the so-called mainstream media and the Democratic Party was so willing to ignore his organization's work on the Edwards story when it was so relatively easy to track the information down. Mainstream media outlets had exposed Gary Hart's affair when he was a Presidential candidate and many outlets had reported on Bill Clinton's indiscretions during his campaign and after and yet, when faced with "tabloid" reports that not only could the son-of-a-mill-worker not keep his pants off the ground, his disco stick safely sheathed in latex or his lover from talking to reporters, but that he'd impregnated his mistress after his wife's cancer came out of remission and was declared incurable, media outlets kept their eyes averted and their quills in the company inkwells.
Perel doesn't know who to blame about that but, whether it was professional jealousy over being scooped by a "tabloid," an all-too-human desire to protect the cuckolded wife who remains popular among their readers or a sense of disbelief that a man who seemingly had the world on the string would keep an indiscreet lady on one (let alone let a married staffer with children take the fall for him), the fact is that every major media outlet and even places like the DailyKos took their cues from Edwards and maintained a wall of silence even as Edwards shuttered his campaign and being a private, leak-led one for the position of Attorney General. But, as Perel points out, Edwards' political ambitions didn't stop him from maintaining ties to Rielle Hunter or the child he, at long last, acknowledges he fathered with her.
The Edwards scandal could've harmed Democrats' chances of beating John McCain, wounded the campaign of Barack Obama or tarnished his Administration in its first year, but Edwards pressed on. I suppose its not surprising that a man like Edwards — who risked his marriage, his immuno-suppressed wife's health, his relationship with his existing children, the public lives of a staffer and that guy's wife and kids, his potential future relationship with the child he fathered out of wedlock or his long-running relationship with the mother of that child for a chance to bone said woman condom-free — would be willing to risk the Democratic Party's chance to re-take the White House, the agenda of the chosen candidate or the reputation of the people who would have vouched for him in order to rise to power. It is, however, surprising that the party, his friends and staff and the mainstream media were willing to let him.
Perel's got little love or respect for Edwards after covering his indiscretions, calling him egocentric, fake, brazenly power-hungry and a narcissist. For instance:
His sincerity was as egocentrically superficial as his infamous $1,250 haircut during the 2004 presidential race.
He doesn't think you should find his utter contempt for Edwards particularly surprising, either.
Throughout the 2008 Democratic primary, I watched him lie, use associates to help him lie, and perniciously abuse public trust while campaigning on restoring a moral core to fill the void of America's diminishing greatness.
Perel also thinks that the only reason Edwards admitted the affair or, eventually, paternity was that he didn't want the video of his meeting, in Perel's possession, to be released or to have Perel counter Edwards' reportedly fake paternity test with a real one. It's also possible that Edwards is finally realizing he's got nothing more to lose and only public credibility to gain by finally coming out with it. That, and the media never would've covered his Haiti rescue mission if he hadn't copped to fathering his child. Given Perel's assessment, it seems just as likely that he did it for the good press as to be a good father.
How the Enquirer Exposed the John Edwards Affair [Wall Street Journal]
Related: Just Asking [Page Six]