If there exists a more evil and despicable person than the "Rev." Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, I do not want to know him. Naturally, he and a small group of his followers came to Raleigh, North Carolina last week to attempt to befoul with their malevolent presence the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards. According to the local paper they were pretty much unsuccessful due to a phalanx of people that had turned out to block those bastards from sight. As one gentleman who had come out to confront Phelps group told the Raleigh-Durham News and Observer," I know she has young children who don't need to be seeing this kind of hate."
Cancer claimed Elizabeth Edwards virtually a moment after she had made the announcement that her doctors had told her that further treatments were of no use. It is said that the doctors were surprised that her life had ended so quickly after treatment was stopped. They had told her she had weeks to live. That just goes to show you that you never know.
Her breast cancer was discovered during her husband's first campaign for the Presidency. It returned 4 years later when he ran again. This time it was discovered in her ribs. The second bout was pronounced incurable. Around that time rumors of John Edwards' infidelity were swirling about the campaign. In August, 2008 John Edwards admitted that he indeed had an affair with a videographer hired by his campaign. Elizabeth admitted that she knew of the affair and had attempted to keep it quiet. In 2010, John Edwards revealed that he was the father of Rielle Hunter's daughter. He and Elizabeth separated. And they never reunited.
To be sure, Elizabeth Edwards was complicit in the insane attempt to keep her husband's infidelity a secret during his second run for the White House. It is a good thing for the country if not the Democratic Party that they were unsuccessful. What if this news had come out during his Presidency or if he had been named Attorney General by President Obama, as was widely thought to be the plan? Unlike you and me, public figures are not entitled to messy personal lives. What could they have possibly been thinking?
And yet, today is not the day to dwell on such matters. Women across the country related to Elizabeth Edwards and not just because of the breast cancer. She had lost a child in an accident and the pain of that day was her constant companion. She struggled with her weight. She showed tremendous grace and class despite the public humiliation visited upon her by her husband. Indeed, John Edwards was present in their former home during her final days. As one of her friends said she told her, "After all, he's still family." With that simple statement she demonstrated more grace than I could ever mustered under the circumstances.
Whatever good John Edwards achieved in this life, he will be forever remembered as a phony and a cad. Compelled by his hubris, he not only thought himself to be in the league of great men but that the rules that bind such men did not apply to him.
Elizabeth Edwards, despite her flaws, will be judged far more kindly.