Today on GMA, Andrew Young described the moment he agreed to claim paternity of John Edwards' love child (apparently, Edwards asked him while shopping in PetSmart). George Stephanopoulos wonders, "How can you not simply say, 'Are you crazy?'"
In the clip above, Young explains that though he ended up turning on Edwards and penning the tell-all book The Politician, during this 2007 shopping expedition "to buy a turtle aquarium for our kids," he was so deep under Edwards' spell that he agreed to his insane cover-up plan. Young offers several justifications: In addition to believing in the causes Edwards' supported and not wanting the scandal to hit as Elizabeth Edwards was dying of cancer, he says he was convinced that Edwards was the only Democrat who could beat John McCain. Stephanopolous fixates on Young saying that he and other aides thought that, "all of the viable candidates had a skeleton in the closet," but that's only what he believed at the time; he's not suggesting that President Obama is a closet Dave Matthews fan.
In the second half of the interview, Young addresses why it took so long for the scandal to come out even after Edwards' presidential campaign was over. While there have been reports that Young was trying to sell an Edwards sex tape, he claims "we were offered gigantic amounts of money and we said no." Young says one of the real reasons he kept quiet was that he thought his life was in danger. Though no one from the campaign ever actually threatened Young, he kept thinking about John Grisham novels and the allegations that President Clinton had aide Vince Foster killed. As Stephanopoulos (who was a White House staffer when Foster committed suicide) is quick to point out, none of those rumors were true.
While, of course, it's highly possible that Young is just trying to rationalize his despicable behavior, the way he talks about his mindset when he was Edwards' right-hand man is disturbing. When you get past the tabloid details, what's shocking about the Edwards scandal is how close he got to the White House without the press ever revealing what a sleazeball he really is. Even with hundreds of reporters digging for dirt, presidential candidates can still hide the truth, thanks in large part to their ability to convince aides like Young to put aside their integrity for the "good" of a campaign.