John Edwards, who probably deserves the title as the scummiest politician of the decade, remains baffled why his mistakes are viewed so badly when other politicians like JFK and Bill Clinton are seen favorably.
That is the problem. Edwards doesn’t get it. From the Washington Post, one of Edwards’ few remaining friends, Glenn Bergenfield, recounts how the former presidential candidate looks at life:
“He knows he made mistakes,” Bergenfield says on the eve of Edwards’s trial, which is set to begin Thursday with jury selection. “But John thinks that the treatment of him is so unflinchingly horrible and that what he did is not so different from what others did — JFK, Clinton, the whole rogues’ gallery. We’ve had this conversation about his situation, and I remember he did compare it to Clinton. He said, ‘I did a horrendous thing, but I don’t know why I’m getting such an unforgiving treatment when you think of what other people have done.’ ”
Unlike Edwards, both JFK and Clinton have a positive legacy as presidents. Edwards has a legacy as a one-term senator who never accomplished much and failed campaigns for the presidency and vice-presidency. Beyond that, perhaps Edwards has forgotten. JFK’s many affairs did tarnish his image; Clinton was impeached.
The big difference is that JFK and Clinton had the brains not to get a woman pregnant while running for president. Both Presidents made serious mistakes of judgment but neither continued to build lie upon lie until it created a complete fantasy world. Part of that reason is that no one investigated Kennedy to expose the truth. Although Clinton lied publicly as deceptively as Edwards, his story unraveled while Edwards continued to embellish his.
Character is often noted as an important trait for elected officials. If that is the case, then the United States skipped past a dangerous path. Edwards is a reckless, self-absorbed prima donna that we are all lucky to have avoided. His trial over campaign violations is another indication of that. He has left a slew of shattered friendships with those who dared get too close to him. For the nation, he would have done worse. As president he would be a greater disaster than he was as a candidate, husband and friend.