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Good News: Lecture Circuit Will Not Be Without Coiffed Cheater For Long

12:35 PM, Nov 12, 2008 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Noted primary loser John Edwards began his rehabilitation last night with a closed event at Indiana University. How long before cell-phone video emerges of an irate college student asking how he could possibly endanger the ascendancy of Hope and Change by hiding his extra-marital affair with Rielle Hunter while he was running for president? I look forward to it. (Update: I just found an account that says he only took written questions submitted beforehand, and the affair didn't come up. We shall have to wait.)

Can he make a comeback? Democrats were angry at him, not because he cheated (as they made sure to stipulate, so as to avoid being pegged as insufficiently non-judgmental), but because he endangered their electoral prospects. Surely, he'll stick around as a middling speaker, but in the Age of Obama, how does a sullied Southerner the Dems don't even need to gain the Bubba vote forge a path back to prominence?

Sadly, we cannot count on his shame to keep him far from a microphone for long. At least his hiatus (partially imposed by the time-line of the election) lasted longer than Jesse Jackson's in 2001, a true model of political shamelessness. When the story broke of his affair and lovechild around January 18, 2001, Jackson said:

The news that the Rev. Jesse Jackson fathered a child out of wedlock with an aide, Karin Stanford, and used money from his nonprofit Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to pay the woman $40,000 in "moving expenses," broke in the National Enquirer and reintroduced the nation to the politics of sex. Jackson responded by issuing a statement saying, in part, "I fully accept responsibility and I am truly sorry for my actions." He also said that he would step away from public life "to revive my spirit and reconnect with my family."

Those of us who were more than happy to see him withdraw weren't happy for long. His first public speaking event was January 22, 2001, where he thanked supporters in his church and proclaimed his determination to get back to his activist work. By February 4, he was speaking out against Bush's faith-based initiative. Way to pay penance, Jesse.