Sin of omission: Edwards' latest flaw was in failing to own up

Written by Susan Mannella on .

Although the notorious statement "It's not the crime, it's the coverup" originated with Watergate, it fits former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his belated admission that he fathered a love-child.

After two years of denying that the child conceived by his ex-mistress, Rielle Hunter, was his, even telling an ABC interviewer last summer that he welcomed a paternity test, Mr. Edwards finally came clean.

Had he done so at the beginning, or at other points along the way, much political damage might have been avoided. But the former North Carolina senator, like so many other disgraced public figures, thought he could hide what he did and no one would be the wiser.

Hubris gives some high-profile people a false sense of immunity from their sins with vehement denials of reality. But a world of instant communication works against flimsy coverups, especially when the face and name on the scandal are so widely familiar.

Mr. Edwards confessed to what everyone already knew before the book "The Politician" is released next month. A former Edwards campaign aide named Andrew Young -- who initially claimed paternity of little Frances Quinn Hunter before the 2008 primary contests began -- has written the book about the former senator's White House quest and the affair that brought it to a screeching halt.

As his youngest daughter's second birthday approaches, Mr. Edwards finally issued a statement saying it was wrong of him to deny that he was her father. "I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves," Mr. Edwards added.

As a postscript to the long-running, sordid story, the former senator should also do everything in his power to help his three other children, who have already had to adjust to their mother having cancer, their father's affair and now, a half-sibling.


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