The John Edwards Saga

What Women Really Think
June 3 2011 2:35 PM

The John Edwards Saga

It’s funny how sleazy, rich people hate to spend their own money. One of the reasons wealthy lobbyist Jack Abramoff ended up going to jail was because of all his machinations to get clients to pick up the tab for his golfing vacations. If only John Edwards had written checks out of his personal fortune to Rielle Hunter, he wouldn’t now be facing federal charges and possible jail time. Instead, according to the indictment , he used an elaborate scheme to divert campaign funds to his mistress and mother of his youngest child. Edwards acknowledges using the funds, but says the purpose wasn’t to keep his campaign viable, as the feds charge, but instead for the purely private reason of keeping the affair from his wife. You would think someone with an eight figure net worth would have the ability to get his hands on some cash without his wife knowing. But clearly Edwards thought whatever he wanted to do, was what needed to be done. He probably believed, a la Arnold Schwarzenegger, that if he just played it right, he could keep the existence of an out-of wedlock child a secret forever.

From the beginning Edwards struck me as an oily, hypocritical self-promoter. The calamitous situation he finds himself in is wholly his own fault. But you’ve got to feel sorry for his children. Talk about poor little rich kids. There they are in a grandiose mansion the size of an arena, but all that money couldn’t protect them from the long march of their mother toward death, the emotional cataclysm of the end of their parents’ marriage. And now they are possibly going to be without even their father if Edwards, who has refused a plea agreement, ends up in jail. The lesson of all this is so simple, but of course a hard one to act on: own up, own up, own up.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. You can reach her at prudence@slate.com.