*A comedian once joked that he had gotten away with burglarizing the homes of his neighbors, because none of them believed he would do something like that! Instead his neighbors and the police were focused on the usual suspects who were not white, not employed and not homeowners. And when evidence pointed towards him as the culprit his victims found reasons to justify their suspicions of others. Although it (hopefully) was a joke, the truth is most offenders who lie, cheat and steal are able to get away with it because they misuse the trust of those closest to them. John Edwards is no different.
The former North Carolina senator and U.S. presidential candidate is on trial, not for lying and cheating – that’s a foregone conclusion, but to determine if he knowingly used campaigns contributions to cover up his adulterous affair and the child it produced all while his wife waged a public battle against cancer that ultimately killed her. And if you think the previous sentence was difficult to read, the testimonies of this case have been even more difficult to hear.
Former campaign staffers and those close to the medical malpractice attorney testified that at least two of them confronted Edwards about the then alleged affair. And after his campaign videographer turned mistress then baby mama, Rielle Hunter, became pregnant, he diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars from trusting campaign contributors to pay for housing, a car, private travel and bribes. The deception continued for as long as it did because there were so many co-conspirators who either helped perpetuate the deception or didn’t ask questions about the deception when the lies didn’t add up. Even the little old lady, whose money Edwards used to keep up Hunter and his love child, was said to have a school-girl like crush on him. So she kept handing over checks worth tens of thousands of dollars. Then one day she asked her advisor how to write a $175,000 check to Edwards’ campaign. That’s when somebody else who wasn’t that enamored with him started to ask questions.
A recent poll revealed – that given the opportunity – most men will cheat. That’s why celebrities, athletes and politicians are more likely to do so: They have the money, unaccounted for time and the status that attracts most women. Given that, it was likely that this million dollar medical malpractice attorney would cheat. Still Edwards had every reason not to.
How long did he think he could get away with it all? Long enough to get into the White House? Then what? Did he think his wife would die before she would find out? Did he think he could keep the baby a secret forever? Ask Jesse Jackson how that turned out for him. And how could he expect to position himself as a role model for those children as a good husband and father? Either he didn’t think about it or he didn’t care.
And he expects the jury to believe he didn’t bat his eyelashes and mislead a little old lady into giving him money for what she thought was to support his presidential campaign, a violation of federal campaign laws? Edwards pretended to see no, hear no or do no evil. He fooled a lot of people for a long time. But he can’t fool all the people all the time.
Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas,Texas metroplex. Send comments, questions and speaking requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.