Many members of the public are terribly angry with John Edwards because he had an affair that would have ruined the Democrats' chances of getting into the White House if he'd been the nominee. Thankfully, his campaign imploded of its own accord in early 2008 -- but had he chanced actually winning the Democratic nomination, we are now informed that some of his staffers probably would have leaked word of the affair to the press.
So says George Stephanopoulos, a man who knows a thing or two about working for a philandering Democratic politician:
Basically, if it looked like Edwards was going to win the Democratic Party nomination, they were going to sabotage his campaign, several former Edwards' staffers have told me.
They said they were Democrats first, and if it looked like Edwards was going to become the nominee, they were going to bring down the campaign.
So ... that's good news to hear, sort of! Good that somebody on the campaign had a conscience, but a little odd that the news only comes out now, and not when Edwards confirmed the affair last summer and suffered the first wave of public outrage.
Also, put yourself in the shoes of somebody in Edwards's inner circle. Why bother continuing to work diligently on the campaign, soliciting both money and time from unsuspecting Edwards supporters, spending long hours and sleepless nights giving your all for your candidate, when you know that one way or another he's doomed?
Well, quitting would just attract unwanted press scrutiny and turn the early Democratic primaries into a circus. There's still "hope" -- if you can call it that -- that the Edwards candidacy will fail quietly of its own accord. And maybe, if you're an insider's insider and secretly prefer Obama to Clinton, you want to continue to siphon off Clinton voters for as long as you can in order to hand Obama the advantage.
It's a complicated calculation, and one that in the end leaves nobody looking particularly good. Edwards and his wife agreed to keep the affair quiet, and were prepared to take that secret all the way to the Democratic nomination and beyond. The Edwards staffers who were allegedly ready to rat out their boss didn't have to take those measures in the end, but they did make themselves partly complicit in what amounts to a multimillion-dollar swindle of thousands of supporters.
It's a shame that the many Edwards voters who might otherwise have directed their contributions and volunteer efforts toward a candidate with a prayer of winning weren't given the luxury of making their own similarly informed choices.
Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.