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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kick 'Em While They're Down

Someone at the Volokh Conspiracy has printed a criticism of John Edwards's public statement acknowledging his affair. Apparently, the blogger at Volokh objects to Edwards's statement that he had been "99% honest" when he discounted the Enquirer's story, presumably on the grounds that that although that tabloid was correct in its allegation about the affair, it contained so many falsehoods that its account could be (mostly) truthfully denied.

The blogger at Volokh had this to say:

Though Edwards implies that he was being "99% honest" when he was lying, and that "I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it," he didn't just deny that the story was true. He said it was "completely false."

I have a hard time believing that Edwards is being 51% honest even now, let alone 99% or 100% honest.

The blogger then follows with a recounting of some evidence regarding the conduct of the affair that, he claims, suggests Edwards's duplicity. This blogger also leaves no room for readers to comment. (To be fair, I don't know if leaving no room for comment was intentional or a mere oversight. The effect, however, is to leave no forum for contradictory comments on a website whose chief appeal is to be open to reader comments.)

Edwards's statement was heartfelt: he gave as much information as anyone outside his family has a right to know, assuming, of course, that we have a "right" to know even that much. Surprise, surprise: he is human, just like you and me.

Edwards's "offense" is succumbing to temptation--to pride and to adultery. The first is a temptation common to all. The second is a temptation common to many. I have succombed to pride on many an occasion and in ways much more egregious than the ones cited by Edwards's own public statement. I have never succumbed to adultery, in large part because I have never faced that particular temptation. I have, I assure my readers (if I have any), given in to other temptations that are at least as bad.

I have been critical of Edwards in the past...for the tenor in which he advances his political causes. But I have a high degree of admiration for his honesty, and I refuse to join the likes of that Volokh blogger who goes for the cheap shot.