September 21st, 2009
08:13 PM ET
11 years ago

Why are some politicians forgiven in sex scandals?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Damning new allegations about former Sen. John Edwards' extramarital affair are coming out - this time, the claims could spell the end of Edwards' political career.

While the U.S. has a tradition of forgiveness, politicians seem able to gain forgiveness from the public and come back after just about anything. As long as the offender apologizes, gets punished and seems to suffer along the way, they are forgiven.

Edwards admitted to having an affair with former 2008 presidential campaign worker Rielle Hunter. He did a mea culpa.

"In 2006, two years ago, I made a very serious mistake. A mistake that I am responsible for and no one else," he said during an interview with ABC News' "Nightline."

"I told Elizabeth about the mistake, asked her for her forgiveness, asked God for his forgiveness," he said.

But now he's getting the front page New York Times treatment.

Full story

Filed under: John Edwards • New York Times • Popular Posts
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Steven

    The only reason that some politicians sink and others swim after a sex scandal is how they handled it. Mark Sanford said that he broke up with his sole mate because he was married but he kept talking about it in the media. John Edwards admitted his affair, asked his family for forgiveness and he moved on with his career. He swam and Sanford sank.

    September 21, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  2. joe

    The honorable John Edwards. All I can say is that his behavior confirmed everything that I ever felt about the man. Cheating on his wife who is dying of metastatic breast cancer – all because he "felt I was special." Shameful...

    September 21, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  3. Lois

    Edwards was done politically when it came out he had an affair. The idiot ran for President, KNOWING he had this hanging over his head. And the child? I think most of know that the child is his. He is just another liar. I, personally, think all the people associated with a sex scandal should resign immediately. I don't want anyone in my government who can't think with the right head. Anyone that weak, has no business being in any sort of trusted postion, they could weaken and give away government secrets or give special favors, a multitude of scenerios. .

    September 21, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  4. Terry from Texas

    It is unfortunate that Edward's weakness was one that most women cannot forgive and most men condemn though most of them have done the same thing.

    Presidents of the last century who were unfaithful to their wives to my knowledge were FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton. Each of them left America a better place. Faithful husbands like Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Bush weren't so successful as president.

    September 21, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  5. Gary Saber

    I have video and still pictures of John and Elizabeth Edwards that were taken on December 30, 2006. The day John told Elizabeth about the affair. I also know people who have video of Lisa Druck and John Edwards on the campaign trail...

    September 21, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  6. Siara

    John Edwards cheating on his wife WHILE SHE WAS GETTING CHEMO may have set a new political low in the character department.

    If possible, the public announcement that he's "asked God for his forgiveness" just enhances the yuck factor.

    September 21, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  7. Samantha Groening

    It's amazing that the National Inquirer broke this story! The mainstream media refuses to face reality. John Edwards is a world-class loser. He was cheating on his cancer-stricken wife and making promises to run away with Hunter. Not to mention, he fathered a child and refused to take responsibility for his actions. For shame, John Edwards, 2004 Democratic VP candidate! For shame!

    September 21, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  8. katie

    John Edwards is one of the worst slime balls in history. He takes the cake. ..

    September 21, 2009 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  9. Nea

    First of all i believe in forgiveness if a person is sincerely apoligiic and they can convince the spouse that he or she have. If GOD can forgive than why not us and its entirely between the couple if they want to make or break the marriage.

    September 22, 2009 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  10. R

    because their wives play the "i forgave him" game.

    September 22, 2009 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  11. Chris

    What political career? Edwards served one uneventful term in the senate. That's it.

    September 22, 2009 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  12. No Incumbents 2010

    For partisan political reasons, the GOP loves Sanford, Ensign, Craig and Vitter for cheating on their wives.

    September 22, 2009 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  13. rickymo

    Who cares? This country is so hung up on marriage and sex (except when it comes to gay people). Leave the Edwards alone...

    September 22, 2009 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  14. Jim

    I'm not sure that Edwards has been forgiven. The main thing is that he no longer holds an office. He can do whatever he wants at this point but he probably wouldn't get many votes if he ran for something.

    September 22, 2009 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  15. LouAz

    Old news ! C'mon, get something new about Repub hypocrits !

    September 22, 2009 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  16. Thoth

    Why? People don't like being lied to: run on a platform of "honesty, family values, and morality" and get into a sex scandal, and you're in trouble. If you didn't make a point of being holier-than-thou in the first place, no one will care much when it's revealed that you're not.

    September 22, 2009 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  17. louise

    I have no respect for mr. edwards anymore and due to the circumstances, Elizabeth with terminal cancer and helping him when he should have been taking care of her. I knew that something wasn;t right, he seemed estranged from her them. Very bad desicion and timing. I only like him because I thouhgt she had the smarts and lots of integirity and a very real sincere belief that she could make the difference. His passion just wasn't there. I really wrote him off for good, too many lies. we don;t need his bad judgements.

    September 22, 2009 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  18. JR

    I really love John Edwards. I really believe that the country has lost a very competent leader. I expect him to come back for the best interest of middle class people. I would vote for him over lot politicians that I know. He is not about him, but it is for the best interest of so many Americans who would benefit from his work.
    In Europe, it would not have matter. The only thing matter to them is the merit of the person and not his/her personal live, and I do believe that they are right.
    We have a lot political leaders who are against the people, and their personal lives are good. I would choose John Edward over them as long as he is going to help people.

    September 22, 2009 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  19. Keith in Austin

    Edwards is toast

    September 22, 2009 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  20. ejayliketosay

    Our health care isn't broke so why fix it as it is probably the world's best in terms of quality. What is broke is the health insurance industry; they are the ones in dire need of reform. It seems like a no brainer to say that everyone will have health insurance and that all employers regardless of size will offer health insurance and that all health insurance policies will be taxed as if income so that all businesses and families can afford it who presently cannot afford it. Moreover, no one can be denied insurance or dropped from their existing insurance on account of a preexisting condition or the onset of a chronic or terminal illness. No more insurance discrimination and rate differences due to age, sex, race, employment status, economic situation, orientation, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or social status either. Enough is enough. Get tough with the health insurance industry and eliminate its discriminatory, predatory practices and mandate universal coverage whether through an employer or on one's own then there will be no need for a public option.

    September 22, 2009 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
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