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Susan Estrich
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Dear John


Last weekend, The New York Times reported on its front page that former Senator, vice presidential candidate and presidential candidate John Edwards was considering "publicly" acknowledging paternity of his mistress's baby, but had not yet brought his wife around to the idea. With his mistress, baby in arms, testifying before a grand jury about the payments she received from Edwards' associates, and the campaign aide he had pushed to claim paternity now shopping a book about the deceit, Edwards is reportedly considering a public affirmation of paternity as a way to spin the story in his direction — make it look like he is standing up to take responsibility, doing the "right thing."

I have a very simple answer for him, one I think most women my age — Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative — would agree with:

Just. Shut. Up.

Message to John Edwards: We know it's your baby. Everyone knows that. You want to do the right thing? Do it privately. Do penance for the next 20 years. Wash your wife's feet and help the poor. But don't make public pronouncements or expect public forgiveness.

Nothing John Edwards can do will change the judgment we have reached about him. World-class scumbag doesn't begin to describe it. I can think of no one in recent political history whose betrayal matches his.

A lot of politicians have affairs. I know this. I will be reminded in a matter of seconds, if I don't say it right here, that I spent years defending one of them, whose taste wasn't much better than Edwards'.

How many times did I say that an extramarital affair is not an impeachable offense? It isn't. But when your wife has metastatic breast cancer, when you use everybody around you, when you lie to her and your aides and the voters, when you distort a presidential race you had no business being in and bring a child into the world because of your arrogance and cruelty, then it's an unforgivable one.

But what about Ted Kennedy? Didn't most of us forgive him? And he was responsible for a woman's death.

Surely that is worse than cheating on your dying wife, fathering a child and promising (could you make this up?) to marry your mistress after your wife dies with the Dave Matthews band in the background.

As far as I know, Kennedy never tried to "spin" Chappaquiddick the way Edwards seems to be trying to spin his tasteless affair. And Kennedy spent the next 40 years tirelessly working to make the world a better place. When Edwards has done that, perhaps he will have earned the respect, and the forgiveness, that Kennedy did.

In the meantime, he should forget about public pronouncements and public approval. We want none of the former, and he will get none of the latter.

I used to think John Edwards was special. He found in the most horrible tragedy a person can face — the death of a child — a calling to serve others. He seemed to believe in something, a cause, larger than himself.

But like so many who find fame and fortune, he was arrogant and careless. He stomped through the china shop, leaving the shards in his wake. He used and abused and induced pain and suffering. I feel for his children. But most of all, I feel for the woman who also lost her son, who supported him for so many years, who has yet to be brought along to a public affirmation of the extent of her personal humiliation. How much "resilience" — the title of her latest book — can be expected of one woman?

Dear John: Please shut up.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



17 Comments | Post Comment
Finally one article I can agree with you on Susan - good job.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Jeff
Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:35 AM
Good article and correct for the most part.
Why Liberals are so blind to their own moral failures is a mystery to me. I was never fooled by John Edwards for an instant. His insincerity was/is as obvious as the insincerity of a used car salesman who has no morals and will do anything to sell a vehicle.
When John Edwards said he was suspending his campaign because of his wife's cancer, I instantly knew he was lying and that he would not suspend his campaign. Yet it took weeks for most Liberals to figure such out.
That said, John Edwards has twice the moral values compared to Obama.
Comment: #2
Posted by: SusansMirror
Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:15 AM
My question has always been what is with these women who stand before the cameras along with the low life that caused her and her family all the pain? Whether it be Joan, Hilary, Elizabeth or a host of others, it appears the power of politics is greater than moral outrage. These aren't stupid women, they aren't uneducated, they have monitary resources, they have options, yet they choose to stay and "stand by their man." Why is that?
Comment: #3
Posted by: jbaugher
Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:45 AM
John Edwards - a typical Godless liberal! It's ok to be immoral and lie, until you're caught. Even then they don't fall back on religion but seek mercy from their like minded libs.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Early
Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:47 AM
Susan: Has anyone noticed that he HAS been silent and its the media who is constantly egging him on to "acknowledge the paternity"? for l8 months he has lived with his wife undoubtedly doing penance the best he can . The media's disgusting obsession with THIS family reflects their hatred for his anti-corporate agenda.
After all, Senator Ensign is still in the job as is Mark Sanford and Senator Vitter. John Edwards gets SPECIAL hatred--as did Bill Clinton--for being at one time a plausible populist leader. Now of course Edwards is destroyed but the media must STFU and stop hammering him to "acknowledge." He is silent, as he should be.
Comment: #5
Posted by: lauren
Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:27 AM
Susan, I thoroughly agree with your article. When the National Enquirer first brought this out it was totally ignored and dismissed by the MSM as he was one of their Darlings. They were more concerned with trying to destroy the Palin family. Now they want their pound of flesh because he betrayed them and focused ridicule on their attempts to keep it quiet.

It actually would be better if the press sent sympathy to his faithful and suffering wife. I for one cannot understand why she continues to stay with him, but, I will not judge either of them as it is their lives.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Gene44
Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:55 AM
I'm a conservative, but don't want to harp on Edwards and liberals too much on this (people in glass houses and all). However, if I was a Democrat, I couldn't see going back to Edwards. These actions are just too creepy.
The Democratic party will be much stronger without him. (Hmmm... now that I think about it, maybe you should try to bring him back!)
Comment: #7
Posted by: scott365
Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:10 AM
Susan, the only politician that I can think of that is as low a sleaze as John Edwards is Newt Gingrich. If my memory serves me correctly, he divorced his first wife while she was suffering from terminal cancer. This puts him in the exact same low spot that John Edwards occupies. Narcissism and large egos are common in both parties in Washington, as is adultery and corruption. I doubt this will ever change, but that does not mean that we should ever accept this behavior. Unfortunately, narcissism and the love of adulation are even more pronounced in Obama than they were in Bill Clinton. These are not in themselves fatal flaws, but the resulting hubris can sometimes injure the country.
Comment: #8
Posted by: red5mutual
Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:29 AM
normally, even though your opinions for the most part make me want to hurl, you are right on. i never quite got why you were so gaga over ted, but when i see you in interviews, you do seem to be sincere. just be careful on your blind support for obama as well.
i was thinking the dems could have john edwards be the only challenger to obama in 2012. that would make the soon to be ex pres seem strong and mainstream.
Comment: #9
Posted by: bob
Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:33 PM
Ted Kennedy did spin: he claimed not to have waited until he was sober to report his crime. He also has helped the MY expense. And Edwards's idea of helping the poor is by suing honest, diligent doctors for malpractice and pocketing 30%.
Comment: #10
Posted by: JayKay
Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:13 PM
Ted Kennedy as a model of repentance? This guy kills a girl, covers up the crime, seals the records and then spends the next four decades of his life raping taxpayers while molesting waitresses and driving his wife into an asylum. What he should have done, if he possessed a scintilla of shame, was to depart from the public scene, divest himself from his family's criminal endowment, and work in anonymity in the interests of the poor and meek.

Ted Kennedy was a disgrace and John Edwards was simply following his mentor's model. Period.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Mike
Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:17 PM
thank you susan to call it like it is.
Bravo once again.
Comment: #12
Posted by: anne
Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:00 AM
"How many times did I say that an extramarital affair is not an impeachable offense? It isn't."

Except that nobody said that having an affair was grounds for impeachment. Lying, while under oath, on the other hand...

Other than that, I find myself, for the second time ever, I think, actually agreeing with you. John Edwards needs to shut up and go away. As does his mistress.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Alex Valencic
Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:49 AM
Susan, you are right about John Edwards, but the linguistic contortions you go through to defend Ted Kennedy and the "the first black president" are laughable. BE. CONSISTENT. With no remorse, Kennedy trampled over many people both in his private and public life. Clinton was "forgiven" because it led the way for Hilliary to be Senator of New York.
Comment: #14
Posted by: sandy
Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:24 PM
Always refreshing to get the point of view on marriage and monogamy from a feminist freak that is a divorcee. Estrich should take her own advice and stuff it. You don't come from any standpoint of expertise when you were a part of a failed marriage.
Comment: #15
Posted by: aggieheaven
Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:26 AM
Re: jbaugher

The answer is power. While Estrich flexes her pen in revolting feminist attack, she spends no time pondering what is wrong with Mrs. Edwards. How can Elizabeth get up each day and not care? The actions of Mrs. Edwards are as despicable as Mr. Edwards, although the Femi-Nazi Estrich doesn't want to focus on that. The fact that Mrs. Edwards stays were her cheating husband displays how she has contributed to a loveless marriage whose only focus is on individual power grabs
Comment: #16
Posted by: aggieheaven
Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:32 AM
He could do the right thing, acknowlege paternity AND pay 18months of back child support.
I feel bad for Elizabeth Edwards but pretending that the baby is not her husband's child isn't fooling anyone except her. They should privately have a paternity test and then deal with the reality.
As the saying goes, "d'Nile is not just a river in Egypt"...
Comment: #17
Posted by: RB1145
Fri Oct 2, 2009 10:19 AM
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