What Edwards Was Trying to Tell Us—and Not Tell Us

Jack Flack reads between the lines of scandal-speak
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 9, 2008 8:50 AM CDT
Journalists photograph a car leaving former U.S. Sen. John Edwards' home Friday, Aug. 8, 2008 in Chapel Hill, N.C.    (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – John Edwards employed classic damage control methods in finally confessing his affair yesterday—ie, announcing it late on a Friday so it would fade over the weekend, and giving an exclusive interview to ensure a sympathetic questioner and avoid a feeding frenzy. Jack Flack, writing in Portfolio, parses Edwards’ statement for efforts to own up manfully while portraying the transgression as brief, meaningless, and, most important, old news.

Gail Collins, in the New York Times, notes the familiarity of the whole scenario—which goes back, she notes, at least as far as Grover Cleveland—and the inability of politicians to learn from each other's mistakes. "We will marvel, yet again, at how much less damage would have been done if the offender had taken the inventive tactic of not lying. But on one front, at least, human behavior really does seem to be evolving. Edwards told his wife that she didn’t need to sit loyally by his side while the TV cameras rolled."