At least he didn’t love her

What really galled me about John Edwards acknowledging that his affair with a woman while his wife was struggling with cancer was his protestation that he didn’t love his mistress, as if that someone made it better. I was glad to find Richard Miniter explaining why saying such a thing is so contemptible. I mean, I would also find it despicable if he said he DID love her and used that as an excuse. But still.

(Now it appears that, contrary to what Edwards says, he may have begun the affair BEFORE paying the woman $114,000 of campaign money to be his photographer.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • WebMonk

    I can only guess that Edwards was trying for the whole sex-doesn’t-mean-as-much-to-guys sort of concept, or guys-can-divorce-sex-from-love.

    As a pragmatic political tactic, it’s not all that bad of one, especially considering that he had told his wife about it long before it came to light. It tries for the impression that he just needed a bit of physical release during all the stress and his wife’s sickness.

    If it comes to light that the affair was going on well before his wife’s sickness then it’s going to turn out differently, but I think that he can probably preserve his political career as a whole even though he loses his (vice-)presidential possibility.

    A pity.

  • WebMonk

    I can only guess that Edwards was trying for the whole sex-doesn’t-mean-as-much-to-guys sort of concept, or guys-can-divorce-sex-from-love.

    As a pragmatic political tactic, it’s not all that bad of one, especially considering that he had told his wife about it long before it came to light. It tries for the impression that he just needed a bit of physical release during all the stress and his wife’s sickness.

    If it comes to light that the affair was going on well before his wife’s sickness then it’s going to turn out differently, but I think that he can probably preserve his political career as a whole even though he loses his (vice-)presidential possibility.

    A pity.

  • Matt

    I think WebMonk is spot-on. Consider:

    -Most Americans have accepted casual sex as fine (consciously, at least).
    -Most Americans view love merely as a feeling.
    -Most Americans view marriage merely as an arrangement between people based on that feeling they call love.

    If one accepts these premises, then extramarital sex does not really entail a serious betrayal, but extramarital feelings do.

  • Matt

    I think WebMonk is spot-on. Consider:

    -Most Americans have accepted casual sex as fine (consciously, at least).
    -Most Americans view love merely as a feeling.
    -Most Americans view marriage merely as an arrangement between people based on that feeling they call love.

    If one accepts these premises, then extramarital sex does not really entail a serious betrayal, but extramarital feelings do.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I listened to his interview/apology and I felt it was really hollow. He apologized, but then gave external reasons why he was tempted.

    “Edwards blamed the affair on the adulation surrounding his remarkable rise into presidential politics. “I went from being a senator, a young senator to being considered for vice president, running for president, being a vice presidential candidate and becoming a national public figure. All of which fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want. You’re invincible. And there will be no consequences.” Yet he pleads for privacy, “This is now and shall always remain a private matter between these individuals and me.”

    He was also extremely vague about the child and danced around the same question three times without ever really answering.

    On a very positive note, he spoke of asking his wife and God for forgiveness.

    In a way, he’s the poster child for progressive/liberal ideals – all talk and dreams, no follow through or substance. He’s no different from most people. I’m not casting stones at him; he’s someone who failed when tempted…just like most of us. It just bugs me that progressives and liberals have such a tendency to keep looking for some magically gifted leader who will save us all from ourselves.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I listened to his interview/apology and I felt it was really hollow. He apologized, but then gave external reasons why he was tempted.

    “Edwards blamed the affair on the adulation surrounding his remarkable rise into presidential politics. “I went from being a senator, a young senator to being considered for vice president, running for president, being a vice presidential candidate and becoming a national public figure. All of which fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want. You’re invincible. And there will be no consequences.” Yet he pleads for privacy, “This is now and shall always remain a private matter between these individuals and me.”

    He was also extremely vague about the child and danced around the same question three times without ever really answering.

    On a very positive note, he spoke of asking his wife and God for forgiveness.

    In a way, he’s the poster child for progressive/liberal ideals – all talk and dreams, no follow through or substance. He’s no different from most people. I’m not casting stones at him; he’s someone who failed when tempted…just like most of us. It just bugs me that progressives and liberals have such a tendency to keep looking for some magically gifted leader who will save us all from ourselves.

  • http://www.HempelStudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    It makes me really sad that he betrayed his wife when she needed him most. I’ve heard of this happening to other couples as well, even to the point of divorce during cancer treatments. Really aches my heart for the one going through those very difficult treatments. Oh, to have marital problems on top of that! The pain!

  • http://www.HempelStudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    It makes me really sad that he betrayed his wife when she needed him most. I’ve heard of this happening to other couples as well, even to the point of divorce during cancer treatments. Really aches my heart for the one going through those very difficult treatments. Oh, to have marital problems on top of that! The pain!

  • Rose

    We need a theologian to explain that an illegitimate child is an entirely consistent outcome for Edwards.
    His political philosophy is that government can adequately take care of all ill-conceived children.
    So spill at will. This is so opposed to the revelation of an honorable, faithful Father.

  • Rose

    We need a theologian to explain that an illegitimate child is an entirely consistent outcome for Edwards.
    His political philosophy is that government can adequately take care of all ill-conceived children.
    So spill at will. This is so opposed to the revelation of an honorable, faithful Father.

  • Anon

    What did Luther and Melancton do for a certain Elector in similar circumstances (and later were very sorry that they had done so, and for which Catholics attack them to this day)

  • Anon

    What did Luther and Melancton do for a certain Elector in similar circumstances (and later were very sorry that they had done so, and for which Catholics attack them to this day)

  • WebMonk

    I give up. I’m not a particular Luther biographical history buff.

  • WebMonk

    I give up. I’m not a particular Luther biographical history buff.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Theresa K. @ #3: that last paragraph was on the money.
    And, so often, liberals see a fellow-liberal’s fall from grace as a feature, not a flaw. The flawed conservative is a rank hypocrite; a flawed liberal displays his humanity.
    Edwards’ problem in this matter is that pesky people can still uncover–or at least wonder about–missing facts that undermine his attempts at coming clean.
    I wonder which is worse to his fellow-travelers: that he’s not made total disclosure, or that he’s not tied up loose ends cleverly enough, so that there’s still a trail to follow.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Theresa K. @ #3: that last paragraph was on the money.
    And, so often, liberals see a fellow-liberal’s fall from grace as a feature, not a flaw. The flawed conservative is a rank hypocrite; a flawed liberal displays his humanity.
    Edwards’ problem in this matter is that pesky people can still uncover–or at least wonder about–missing facts that undermine his attempts at coming clean.
    I wonder which is worse to his fellow-travelers: that he’s not made total disclosure, or that he’s not tied up loose ends cleverly enough, so that there’s still a trail to follow.


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