Put your hands together for John Edwards.
At a moment when so many of us are embroiled in a Deep Think about the impact of the Massachusetts Senate results on the Obama presidency and the future of our republic, along comes America's cad to peel away yet another layer of his lies. Presumably, the final layer.
In a statement this morning, he copped to the love child that he conceived with Rielle Hunter, his campaign road lady:
"I am Quinn’s father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves. I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace.
"It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me. I have been providing financial support for Quinn and have reached an agreement with her mother to continue providing support in the future. To all those I have disappointed and hurt, these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry."
Which means, of course, that he had tried to snow the public on ABC's Nightline in August 2008 (a few weeks prior to the Democratic national convention, from which he had virtually been exiled), when he insisted, after finally copping to the affair, that the child was not his: "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. Happy to take a paternity test, and would love to see it happen."
Strange. He never did get around to taking that paternity test. On NBC this morning, Harris Hickman, an Edwards friend and adviser, didn't bother trying to spin what Edwards had said in that '08 interview: "He lied when he said it was not possible, ah, and he knows he lied. And, you know, I think he is certainly regretful for that."
So why did he lie about the love child on Nightline? The new bestselling book on the '08 campaign, Game Change, answers that question on page 342: "Edwards settled on the idea of performing a mea culpa on ABC News' Nightline. Don't do this interview unless you plan to tell the whole truth (aide Jennifer) Palmieri told Edwards, because if you lie, you're going to make things infinitely worse. Edwards replied that he was going to confess to the affair, but deny paternity of the child. He didn't want to jeopardize his chances of being Obama's attorney general."
To which Palmieri reportedly replied, "That, John? That was gone a long time ago."
Anyway, today's love-child confession should close the book on Edwards (the best friend that The National Enquirer ever had, given what he has done for their reportorial credibility). This long tawdry tale should at least train us to be wary of all presidential candidates who tout their allegedly spotless characters as evidence of their political worth. If someone like Edwards comes along in the future, parading his marriage and his morals, and seems to be just a little too perfect, the odds are good that it's a fraud.
At least Edwards, by acknowledging his previous lie about Quinn, has finally surrendered to the dictates of his conscience...but wait...It turns out that he did it only because he had to. Eight days from now, his former aide, Andrew Young, is set to spill all the beans on ABC News, in advance of his own tell-all book about Edwards. Clearly, the ex-candidate wanted to get ahead of that story.
Excerpts of Young's interview are already dribbling out. To wit: During Edwards' cover-up effort, he asked Young to fake a paternity test.
According to Young, Edwards first asked him "to steal a diaper from the baby so he could secretly do a DNA test to find out if this [was] indeed his child." But, subsequently, Young says that Edwards came up with a simpler solution, and entrusted Young to make it happen (although, apparently, it didn't happen).
Edwards said: "Get a doctor to fake the DNA results."
Is this guy a stitch, or what? With two wars and a recession plaguing us this winter, his aide's February book might provide just the right touch of tragicomic relief.