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Writer and social critic Alice Dunbar Nelson was born in 1875 and helped shaped the Harlem Renaissance.

Concerned with Edwards Affair

POSTED: August 29, 2008, 12:00 am

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Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. -- Abraham Lincoln

Given this standard, not many will pass the test and former presidential candidate John Edwards is just the latest to fall from grace. I am not surprised about this turn of events, but I am disappointed. I liked Edwards and even thought an Obama/Edwards ticket could be possible.  While I am disappointed, I don’t quite understand why this story has made such a splash. This is not to diminish what Edwards has done to his wife. I agree that it is despicable but is it really that surprising that a wealthy, powerful, handsome man cheats on his wife? Just like rock stars and athletes, politicians have groupies, too.

This story has been on everything from CNN to Entertainment Tonight, but this isn’t the first former senator to cheat on his wife and it is a safe bet it won’t be the last. I am sure that some of the pundits pontificating about what a lowlife Edwards is are currently residing in glass houses. Not that this isn’t newsworthy, but why is this still the topic of discussion a week later? Edwards is not running for public office, nor currently holds any office. He’s not even actively involved in Obama’s campaign, so what gives?

Is it because Elizabeth Edwards was ailing at the time of his dalliance? Or is it because the affair may have resulted in a child? The details make for a juicy story, but one reason for all the fuss is that no reputable news organization reported on this when it was relevant. This story has unfolded on Edwards’ terms, but it was initially reported by The National Enquirer, last year when Edwards was still seeking the presidency.  Since the mainstream “legitimate” media missed the boat initially, we are now privy to all the sordid details as if Edwards were still running.

An illicit affair between two consenting adults usually doesn’t warrant this depth of coverage. While it is not a particularly flattering set of circumstances, it just shows that Edwards is nothing but a man complete with frailties and shortcomings.  Despite the beating Edwards has rightfully taken, I haven’t heard much criticism of the “other woman”, Rielle Hunter. It takes two to tango and Hunter is a grown woman who knew Edwards was married, so she is equally as culpable, irresponsible and cruel as Edwards.

If nothing else, this whole mess has made me respect Elizabeth Edwards even more. When she was on the campaign trail for her husband while battling cancer, you could tell that she was cut from a different cloth. She has exemplified strength and remained singularly focused on overcoming obstacles, whether it is battling health challenges, raising two small children or dealing with a cad for a husband. After all of that, politics would be a snap for Elizabeth Edwards, so maybe Obama/Edwards could be a winning combination after all.

Cindy Barnes-Thomas

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