A History of Political Sex Scandals, From Grover Cleveland to John Edwards

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's day five of the John Edwards trial. The former North Carolina senator is being tried on six felony charges stemming from an extramarital affair that produced a kid and ended a political career. The one-time golden boy of the Democratic Party is officially being charged with accepting illegal campaign contributions designed to keep his mistress quiet during his presidential campaign. But in the court of public opinion, Edwards is on trial for something much more personal and seemingly something much less forgivable.

Edwards’ fall from grace was so quick, so severe, it begs the question: how does this scandal rank among American politics’ most infamous infidelities?

To put the this trial and scandal in some historical context, we're joined by Dr. David Eisenbach, historian and lecturer at Columbia University and host of the new H2 TV series, "10 Things You Don’t Know About."


David Eisenbach

Produced by:

Marc Kilstein

Comments [3]


Todd Zwillich and The Takeaway have butchered this story so badly.

I hear some Takeaway listeners suggesting that the prosecution of Edwards is merely about sexual indiscretions. Which is funny; I presume that those listeners would be saying, "If Edwards had used campaign money or other undisclosed contributions for plumbing on his house, this federal prosecution would never be taking place." Which is completely wrong. Just look at the late Sen. Ted Stevens; prosecuted for the financial aspects of... plumbing and renovations on his house.

Here is the thing that The Takeaway is getting wrong. We conservatives knew, before Edwards ran for anything, that he was a lying scumbag. That's not news to us. Look at what he did in court as a malpractice attorney. Look at his statements about stem cell research allowing Christopher Reeve to get up and walk. Edwards is a congenital liar.

But it is now the conservative press that is defending Edwards on the campaign finance charges, and rightfully so. The Weekly Standard and the National Review Online have both done editorials defending Edwards on the specific charges currently in trial. That's intellectual honesty and consistency.

I think that The Takeaway is screwing up this story because it can't let go of the fact that Edwards was once the (ironic) standard-bearer of the class-warring Left.

Apr. 27 2012 10:15 AM
Mike Fitzgerald

The character of any politican is an integral part of the reason for his/her election. Ideally they should represent the best of the electorate. They are not just celebrities, playing roles for hire.

Apr. 27 2012 09:35 AM
Nicky from today, Brooklyn. Usually, BrookLINE.

Last night I watched Scandal for the first time, and I think the president in that show is John Edwards.

Apr. 27 2012 07:21 AM

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