Commentary: John Edwards finally confesses; big deal

After more than two years of spin, half-truths and outright lies, John Edwards came clean.

He admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock, the result of a campaign-trail affair with Rielle Hunter, a videographer, while Elizabeth Edwards was back home battling cancer.

Next week, Andrew Young, Edwards' former campaign aide, is scheduled to go on national television in advance of the publication of his tell-all book, "The Politician." Young presumably will explain Plan A — how the Edwards inner circle decided that Young would take responsibility for fathering the child.

Harrison Hickman, an Edwards spokesman, said Thursday that the timing of Edwards' confession was not prompted by the Young appearance or book. Given Edwards' track record on truthfulness, there is no reason to believe this.

Edwards has been in a free fall so long that it's hard to remember that just three years ago many people believed he had a decent chance of sitting in the White House today. The Clintons considered Edwards, the former U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate, as their chief rival for the Democratic nomination before the emergence of Barack Obama.

Thousands of people would drive for miles across icy roads to see Edwards in packed gyms, stadiums and arenas in industrial towns in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio, where he would tell them that Washington no longer cared whether their plant closed, whether they lost their health insurance or whether they were forced to give up their house. Some compared him to the second coming of Bobby Kennedy. His sex appeal was obvious.

When you are treated as a rock star, it is hard to keep grounded.

Many thought the son of a Moore County textile family had got above his raisin' — that the cheering crowds, the Secret Service protection, the fawning campaign staff had gone to his head. The famous YouTube video of Edwards spending so much time combing his hair before preparing for a television interview told you something about who Edwards had become. I'm pretty sure Edwards didn't get $400 haircuts when he was a Raleigh lawyer.

In truth, there are a lot of Democrats — yes, Democrats — in Washington and Raleigh who were glad to see Edwards fail. They viewed Edwards as arrogant, egotistical and callow. Even some former campaign aides were considering ways to sabotage his campaign and were relieved when he lost, according to anonymously sourced accounts in the insider campaign book "Game Change."

Edwards now is known only for his messy personal life.

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