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John Edwards, former North Carolina Senator and erstwhile presidential candidate, husband of Elizabeth, and man who conducted an affair with a campaign aide is, in my book, the definition of a cad.

I don’t write many pieces like this, but Elizabeth died this week after six years battling breast cancer. She described herself as the “anti-Barbie” for her more realistic figure, stood tall in the face of her husband’s moral and political decline, and gave the nation a new definition of strong female grace.

In 2004, John Edwards was on top of the world. A former and highly successful trial attorney, he’d served a term in the United States Senate, and was picked as John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate in what proved to be an unsuccessful run to the White House. Edwards followed this by becoming a leading Democratic candidate in the 2008 presidential race. Meanwhile, the day following Election Day 2004, Elizabeth discovered she had cancer.

Sometime in the midst of all this John Edwards got involved in an affair with political staff member Richelle Hunter. When this news broke during his candidacy in 2008, he followed a now all-too-familiar pattern: denial, denial, denial, which is to say, lie, lie, lie, then tearful admission that “mistakes were made.” He even later vigorously denied fathering Hunter’s child, only to have it later confirmed. All this took place as Elizabeth fought to survive.

Elizabeth went on to write Saving Graces, a best-selling memoir. But she ultimately lost her fight with the disease.

Elizabeth and John deserved a lot more than they got. She deserved respect and better treatment from a cad of a husband. He, while seeing his political future crash and burn, deserved more recriminations than he received.

We don’t know what words were exchanged between Elizabeth and John privately, so we really don’t know what he may have said to her. We do know that his public apologies have all been forced and shallow.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, pulled no punches in a few interviews, yet never really responded publicly with fiery ire. She’ll be remembered for her courage and her grace. Unless he makes a serious readjustment, how do you suppose John will be remembered?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

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