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John Edwards: The Most Boring Sex Scandal To Ever Hit Washington

Illustration for article titled John Edwards: The Most Boring Sex Scandal To Ever Hit Washington

"I am Quinn's father," Mr. Edwards said bluntly in a statement released to the news media yesterday. But considering what other politicians have been up to, this "scandal" is a snoozefest.


Let's take this one to the videotape. Unlike Bill Clinton, Edwards made the cardinal mistake of showing fear. Check out Edwards when a reporter tactfully brings up "the articles...the National Enquirer:"


That was extra, extra blinky.

Later, he confessed on ABC News to the affair, but tried to deny paternity of the child:

(John, you know you wanted to say "See, what had happened was...")

Sadly, there would be no satisfying Maury Povich victory dance for Edwards.


What prompted Edwards' sudden admission of paternity? Was it the mudslinging release of the book Game Change? (Mark Halperin is hoping a movie will result from the book, and bitchily suggested Rosie O'Donnell should play Elizabeth Edwards.)

Obviously, what remains of Edwards' camp is still trying to spin that the public admission is really about settling the matters of child support (publicly?) and how this is a process, but come on - at this point, Edward's reputation is so tarnished, an item could come out that he had a threesome with a donkey and a Martian and people would shake their heads and say "Damn, we always knew John Edwards was a freak."


Still, as political scandals go, this was fairly tame. The only reason this is shocking was John Edwards' simple, nice guy image being shot to hell. The NY Daily News tried to compare Edwards to Tiger Woods, but it wasn't that serious. You don't go to sex rehab for a mistress and a baby. If we were in Europe, that would have just come with the territory. Still, Edwards seized the moment, made his admission, and broke for Haiti. (This trip just screams "I'm still a good person dammit!") The editor of the National Enquirer wants a Pulitzer for the reporting on that story, natch. But even the National Enquirer's standards are too low: 2004 brought Jim McGreevy coming out of the closet, Larry Craig spent 2007 trolling for sex in bathrooms with a wide-legged stance, and Mark Sanford went MIA last year for a love tryst in Argentina. The John Edwards Story wouldn't even make it to Lifetime.


However, Elizabeth's would! Today's Washington Post runs a piece about how Elizabeth is really just a normal human being.

Jennifer Palmieri, who worked with the 2004 and 2008 campaign, rushes to clear the Game Change tainted air by sharing personal stories about Elizabeth Edwards. She opens her piece with:

The first time I met Elizabeth Edwards, she greeted me at the door of her home juggling a yogurt in one hand and a Diet Coke in the other.

"Would you like either one of these things? Because they are all I have in the house. I am so determined. This time I will lose 40 pounds."

I liked her immediately. She utterly lacked pretense, and I knew there was no way she was going to lose 40 pounds. You could just tell she loved life too much to let things like diets stand in the way of a good time.


Never mind, they could make the Elizabeth Edwards Story a show, run it right after Drop Dead Diva.

Palmieri then gets around to challenging the smears on Ms. Edwards, acknowledging the distortions as well as something closer to truth:

There were some difficult moments, but she is no diva. I don't know of many other campaign spouses who make airport runs to pick up staff or insist that she be put on cheap, inconvenient flights and booked in cheap hotels to save the campaign money. She never cared much about her appearance and had to be forced to carry a purse. (I still recall the look on New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny's face when she pulled her credit card from her bra once to pay for her lunch — priceless.)

We shared many, many laughs in 2004. But the 2008 cycle was very different.

It is hard to explain, even to fathom, how difficult these past three years have been on her. I understand that if your husband betrayed you as badly as hers did, you might have a hard time knowing whom to trust. The stress and wrenching grief permeated every aspect of her life and made circumstances difficult for many of us in the campaign. I believe that she was unfairly critical of some staffers who are good friends of mine and were trying to do the best job they could in an impossible situation. Elizabeth and I continue to argue about that, and I know that she regrets some things that she said. I try to let her know there are loads of us who love her and whom she can trust.


Elizabeth's reaction is just about the only piece of this situation that is remotely interesting. Hopefully she can move on, become a speaker and policy consultant, and start life anew while John is still struggling with diapers.

Edwards Admits He Fathered Girl With Mistress [NY Times]
Cast Rosie O'Donnell as Mrs. Edwards! [NY Post]
Public life not 'natural' for Edwards [Politico]
John Edwards' string of lies in sex scandal 'makes Tiger Woods look like an amateur,' expert says [NY Daily News]
Look Who Else Is 'Helping' Haiti! [Gawker]
John Edwards's paternity admission vindicates National Enquirer, its editor says [Washington Post]
Elizabeth Edwards: Survivor in chief [Washington Post]
Drop Dead Diva [Lifetime]


Earlier: Top 10 Ways Male Politicians Confess To Extramarital Affairs
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford Confesses To Extramarital Affair

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Flackette Knits A Lot

So, I get that politicians have sex scandals, but I suppose I'm surprised that they still frequently result in babies. Given the various birth control options, it seems silly that they or their paramours wouldn't take precautions. Unless, of course, having a baby is part of the plan to get a permanent grip on the coattails of a famous politician (but those coattails won't be much good once his career comes crashing down). Ultimately, I'm going to fault John for a) having an affair and b) not wrapping it up - but I kind of wonder what the mistress is thinking in these situations, risking pregnancy and then deciding to go through with it.