As you may have heard, the results of  John Edwards’ campaign finance trial was a ‘not guilty’ on one charge and  a mistrial on the other five due to the inability of the jury to come to a unanimous decision on a verdict.

In case you don’t know the timeline, here’s a summary:

  • 2006: Edwards begins an affair with Rielle Hunter, a filmmaker working on his presidential campaign while his wife battled cancer.  He covers up the affair (to the tune of $1 million) with money received from a donor during the presidential campaign.
  • March 2007: Elizabeth Edwards announces that her breast cancer had returned.
  • October 2007: Allegations are printed that Edwards was having an affair with Hunter.
  • February 2008: Hunter gives birth to a baby girl Quinn.
  • July 2008: Allegations are printed that Edwards is the father.
  • August 2008: Edwards admitted to the affair, but denied he was the father of Hunter’s baby Quinn.
  • January 2010: Edwards admits he was indeed the father of Quinn.  Edwards’ wife Elizabeth legally separates from him.
  • December 2010: Elizabeth dies of terminal breast cancer.
  • April 2012: Trial begins to determine if Edwards was in violation of campaign finance law for using funds to cover up his affair.
  • May 2012: The aforementioned verdict is reached.

Let’s take a look at some of Edwards’ statements during this whole sordid affair.

August 8, 2008: “In 2006…I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness. Although I was honest in every painful detail with my family, I did not tell the public. When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99 percent honest is no longer enough.”

First, calling it a “liaison” doesn’t make it less offensive—sometimes semantics just makes you seem like a bigger scumbag.  Secondly, “being 99% honest” isn’t being honest—that’s withholding information which is…wait for it…dishonest.  (Oh, and you weren’t “honest in every detail” since you didn’t tell them that Quinn was your kid, that admission came 2 years later).

August, 2008: “I know that it’s not possible that this child could be mine because of the timing of events, so I know it’s not possible”
I think I’ve heard a similar story before:

And mother always told me be careful of who you love
And be careful of what you do
’cause the lie becomes the truth
Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son

But, more substantively, let’s take a look at parts of his speech after the verdict in his trial had been reached.

“Firstly, I want to thank the jurors and their incredibly hard work and diligence. They took their job very seriously.”

You have no idea what went on behind closed doors; he begins his speech with some good old pandering.

“Thank goodness we live in a country that has the system we have, it is an exemplar of what juries are supposed to do.”

Notice he doesn’t say the system serves justice, it’s just the system “that we have.”  Which, of course, as a trial lawyer, he knows is quite susceptible to courtroom manipulation, appeals to emotion, and other ways to find loopholes and technicalities.  (Now I’m not saying that these did happen in this case, especially given the twisty rules of the FEC for campaign finance reform.  Indeed, neither side could present a clear-cut case of whether violations occurred because of a variety of factors, including the esoteric nature of the laws and a lack of key witnesses, partially thanks to the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  I’m just saying the whole thing smells funky.)

“No one else is responsible for my sins. I am responsible. If I want to find the person responsible for my sins, I don’t have to go further than a mirror, it was me and me alone.” 

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change”

By calling them “sins,” he neatly avoids any criminal/legal entanglements.  We can only prosecute “crimes,” we can sin all we want as long as those sins don’t happen to also be crimes as defined by our legal system.  (Which is partly why a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but I digress…don’t worry, that post is coming soon).

“My precious Quinn, [6 second pause] who I love more than any of you can ever imagine, who I am so close to, so, so grateful for.”

Considering you basically denied her existence as your offspring, I think we can imagine how much you love her pretty accurately.  Plus, quit trying to manipulate your viewers with this sham show of emotion with a staged pause and “choke up.”  By denying your child’s existence and then blubbering out some love clichés after a mistrial, your credibility is as shredded as the “fair and balanced” claim by Fox News.

“You saw her bathing on the roof…”

“I don’t think God is through with me. I think he believes there are still some things I can do.”

Not that I can claim to know the mind of God, but I don’t think “he” has any grand plans for a lying adulterer. (Unless, you know, your name is David or something).  And, given the treatment of most non-king adulterers by God in the Bible, I’m not so sure you should be so optimistic about the outcome of those things.

“I want to dedicate my life to being the best dad I can be and to helping those kids who I think deserve help.”

Well, admitting you’re the dad is a good first step.  And I hope your judgment about what kids need help is a bit better than you’ve shown in the past.

So why did I spend all this time on a fallen politico? Because I think it simultaneously shows the flaws in our justice system, campaign finance laws, and our political system in general.

Is Edwards guilty of a crime?

Maybe.

Is he a douche bag?

Absolutely.

Hopefully, the latter verdict will follow him around for the rest of his life.

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