Thursday, January 21, 2010

What to learn from Edwards' idiocy

So John Edwards finally admitted paternity of his mistress' child, after previously saying the affair ended too soon for him to be the father. I assume he lied about paternity because he was still lying to his wife about the length of the affair. The Edwards are now separated.

I could care less about him, but the story's relevant to our political discourse and our role of trying to identify and support the best possible candidates. Ezra Klein says gossipy campaign books like Game Change are useless because the incentives are to suck up to winning candidates and kick the losers - standard Village journalism practice.

Understood, but when I read the chapter on Edwards, I felt like even more of a fool for being a supporter than I had previously. On the other hand, the chapter seems likely to be mostly correct, and quite a contrast to the political reporting during the campaign. All you heard during the campaign was how emotionally dependent John was on Elizabeth, and worries that her potential death from cancer might leave him emotionally dysfunctional in office. I'm not sure what should have tipped me off during the campaign and kept me from being a supporter, aside from the fact that establishment Democrats didn't like him (but I didn't trust them), and not-very-concrete arguments that he was superficial.

The book is useful in telling us how useless the campaign reporting was. What to do about that information isn't clear, though.

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