Edwards Staffers Would Have Sank The Ship?

I'm not sure I totally buy Stephanopoulos here:

I've talked to a lot of former Edwards staffers about this. Up until December of 2007, most on Edwards' staff didn't believe rumors about the affair.

But by late December, early January of last year, several people in his inner circle began to think the rumors were true.

Several of them had gotten together and devised a "doomsday" strategy of sorts.

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.

But there's at least one puzzle piece missing - why didn't these staffers just sink the campaign at the point they found out? Why wait until it looked like Edwards would win the nomination? Wouldn't waiting so long handicap a runner-up Dem in the general election? Wasn't it unfair to keeping pulling donations from supporters?

I'm inclined to disbelieve this type of story. I'd bet at least some of the staffers Stephanopoulos talked to either hadn't heard the rumor or refused to believe it - but won't cop to it.

Tags: John Edwards (all tags)




It sounds good now, but sounds like a cover your ass story.

"How could you back him, you KNOW what would have happened if he won the nom, and this came out?"

"Oh, we had a plan to sabatoge it, in case it did..."

In case it did?

The heat was already on, and he was losing.

If he had actually been in the lead, NO WAY it can possible stay hidden.

They're just copping a story, so they don't look like thinking people..

Anyone with integrity quits the campaign the second they know the story is true.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-10 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards Staffers Would Have Sank The Ship?

they wanted to preserve their influence.  They didn't care at all for ordinary Edwards supporters who were giving money and time to his campaign, so that he could use his votes to get some concessions from whoever he chose to back. It's cynical, and if they were smart they'd shut up. Everyone guilty, including Mrs. Edwards, is trying to blame everyone else and show themselves to be pure and decent. Hogwash, they're all guilty of perpetrating a fraud.  

by anna shane 2009-05-10 07:59AM | 0 recs
Though I'm inclined to treat this as CYA as well..

...I can understand waiting.  If you value your party and don't want to see it weakened by a sex scandal, it's better to be discreet, only bringing up the scandal if you think it's essential.  I was a strong Edwards supporter when he dropped out, but I knew he wasn't going to get the nomination at that point, and I think it was a lot better for him to drop out than for him to get pushed out by scandal.

by juliewolf 2009-05-10 08:00AM | 0 recs
I never though winning was Edwards's prime goal
Winning the nomination isn't the only reason candidates enter a primary, in fact most of them make do so in order to influence the other candidates.  Remember that before Super Tuesday Clinton had no platform beyond identity and Obama was focused on enthusiasm and organization to the exclusion of talking much about actual policy.  Edwards was playing specific populist cards at every turn, forcing the others to respond and co-opt.  
As long as that was happening, it made sense for Edwards to stay in (besides, no one could have predicted the ridiculously puritanical backlash in the liberal community).  Staff, which tends to be younger and more liberal than candidates as well as more partisan, is going to stick with something that pulls the debate left even when it's a gamble.
In addition, the quote doesn't say that the staff in aggregate were ever certain of the infidelity (and it would have been a hard thing for them to come to believe), but rather that they were aware of a rumor so compelling that some of them though it must be real.  True, that rumor alone would have sunk him in the general, but you don't betray your candidate until there's no other choice.
But every staffer understands that blame accrues to staff and credit accrues to candidates.  Even in this situation, people instinctively go for the 'how could the staff do this?' angle.  When you know the only chance you have to avoid taking the fall is to pray that the boss didn't really make the mistake you know he did, it changes your priorities.
by Endymion 2009-05-10 08:53AM | 0 recs
ridiculously puritanical backlash?

Not sure i get you here...

Affiars are a personal matter, but I think most are not getting all prissy here, that part is between Edwards and his family.

But, what most are objecting to is, (and, remember this is a pol who lectured Bill Clinton about Monica) when your narcisism allows you to hand a grenade to your opponents, maybe asking us for money to back you is a bit disengenious?

Because, you have now demonstrated that you are a bad bet.

The other thing it show is, his staff was totally P-whipped here. For them now to spin this story, right, I'm really buying it...

Everyone knows who Rielle Hunter is, right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rielle_Hunt er

It would have been difficult for Edwards security team NOT to find out who she was...

She is trouble with a Capital T.

So, I have to believe, when that information was brought to John, he shot it down.

He was too busy having his ego (amongst other things) stroked.

So while I am uncomfortable with infidelity, especially when you make family values and your wife front and center in your campaign, I don't think I am puritanical about it, nor are most here.

What we dislike is stupidity, and being lied to.

When you tell us, and present a story that your family is the center of your life, THEN you get hooked up with a legendary party girl while your wife is fighting cancer.

You're a phony, pure and simple.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-10 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: ridiculously puritanical backlash?

Ridiculous puritanical backlash:

Everyone knows who Rielle Hunter is, right?

She is trouble with a Capital T.
Total slut!

He was too busy having his ego (amongst other things) stroked.
J. Edwards obv. whore too OMG!

So anyway, you disagree with my minor parenthetical aside, but the actual points you pretty much agree with?  Especially the part about how the staffers are going to be covered in blame for all of this no matter what?

(maybe you should be a little less breathless in the future)

by Endymion 2009-05-10 10:38AM | 0 recs
Nice bait and switch....

Your words, not mine.

Look, what I said is, she is trouble with a capital T....

You made the value judgement, you used the words.

I said, this was a private matter, but personally I find it disengenious when you make your family the virtual centerpiece of you campaign, your wife dying of cancer.

Yes, I think partying with Reil is a bit off the mark, but that's just me when your that guy, I guess.

Evidently YOU are comfortable with putting your heart, soul and money behind a poltician that hands his opponents a sword to chop his head off with?

I guess I think that is a bad investment, strictly from a pragmatic, not a puritanical sense.

And, if you actually READ my post, I said, I suspect the staff brought it to John, and he shot it down.

Boy, you sure are defensive about John?

Still not over the primary, maybe?

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-10 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Nice bait and switch....
Again, you could be a little more coherent here, but I'll try to address your comments.  I did support Edwards in the primary, not because I thought he could win, but because he pushed the pack left.  If I'd been wrong and he had won, well, in terms of policy that would have been best, and in terms of electability...out of the Republicans then still in the running, only McCain had any chance of beating even Gravel, and McCain was still dead in the water when Edwards dropped out.  But it's not so much the primary I'm not over, it's the unreasoning reaction against Edwards that bothers me: I don't know what it's like to have supported a candidate who gave a sword to his enemies to chop of his head, because when the news came out about the affair, it was his friends who were crawling all over each other to be the first to swing.  It was a classic example of why Democratic politicians really shouldn't place any trust in liberal voters, and that pattern is why we have such a hard time influencing policy.
But that notwithstanding, a Carterized Checkers speech could have refocused the campaign on "redemption" and he'd have squeaked in to the White House, maybe.  It's always been a meaningless hypothetical to me, a thing down a chain of so many 'what if''s that the answers don't really teach anything, and so I choose to believe it could have turned out alright because there's no cost to doing so, anymore than wondering what have happened if Gandalf hadn't been reborn after the fight with the balrog(I think everything would have been fine, why not).  
As for your point about making his family a centerpiece, to a certain extent a politician cannot hide their family.  I don't think Edwards did anything special to focus the lens on his family.  Elizabeth is not the kind of woman who hides, even when others think she ought to, and if they had wanted to make an issue out of their family they probably would have started with the family planning procedures whereby a 50 year old woman becomes pregnant.  
But, what you said: the statements I quoted above indicate a real discomfort with sexual promiscuity.  Certainly, I translated them into more brutal language; but the sentiment, conscious or not, comes from you.  Now, I was attempting to highlight what you did, rather than make an accusation about what you are, but your hostility to that criticism suggests your misogyny is not unknown to you.
by Endymion 2009-05-10 02:05PM | 0 recs
Yes, once again, want this to make it about me

I am some puritan who is obsessed with infidelity.

Nope, again, if this were the Kennedy years, when politicians private affairs didn't effect their performance in office...but the landscape has changed.

If you want my money, I expect you to NOT hand you enemies a sword, simple as that.

If you were a closest alchoholic, I would say the same thing.  

What you do in your private life is none of my business.

But, what planet's politics have you been following?

These guys DON'T have private lives anymore.

And, nice try with the Misogyny, but I am not blaming Rielle in any way shape or form.

I think it was Edwards, pure and simple, who is at fault here, and the fault is a weakness of politics, not of the flesh.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-10 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, once again, want this to make it about me
I am some puritan who is obsessed with infidelity.
I don't think you really are.  However, if you want to evaluate Edwards based not on his actions but on how his actions were perceived, I will apply that lens to you.
by Endymion 2009-05-10 03:19PM | 0 recs
Again, YOU perceive us as a bunch of prudes

in the Democratic Party turned against Edwards beacause he had extramartial sex.

MY point is, many here, myself included, are wondering HOW he thought he would not get caught?

And, really, it's not WE that have created the 24 hour new-services that go on a feeding frenzy into peoples lives.

There used to be a 'gentlemans agreement' as it were, no value judgments here, not sure they were really gentleman...

But, the press knew the Kennedy's fooled around on their wives, and kept it OUT of the news.

But, the paridgm changed.

And, in the post Bill Clinton era, yes, I do expect politicians in this hyper scandal hungry era to understand the risk.

Finally, I AM basing my evaluation on Edward's actions;

He thought he could get away with it.

He was stupid, and that is why I think he would have been a terribly flawed candidate in the general election.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-10 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Again, YOU perceive us as a bunch of prudes
During the Clinton impeachment, we said all sorts of things about how it was wrong to intrude so deeply into a person's private life, private failings.  But then when Edwards also philandered, we were the first to denounce him.  I see that as an hypocrisy greater than cheating on your wife, because it involves a cast of thousands and damages our hopes of influencing government policy(not because it institutes a purity test for higher office, but because it shows us to be an erratic and untrustworthy voting bloc; the incongruity of professed or supposed liberals appearing to institute a purity test is integral to creating that sense of instability).  
Over a long enough time, everyone gets caught--getting away with it is a temporary status, subject to reevaluation at every moment.  The staffers don't dispute that Edwards would get caught, instead they planned around the hope that he wouldn't get caught while it still mattered (they were right) with a back-up plan to ensure that it would never matter.  But it is irrational to think that anyone thought they could get away with it forever, and the fact that the Edwards campaign folded while it still had plenty of momentum and that he then kept himself out of entanglements with the other campaigns indicates that he probably thought he'd gotten away with it for as long as possible.  
In '06, I laughed openly at the people who voted to ban gay marriage in my state while saying they didn't hate gay people, because they were ignorant of their obvious hatred of gay people.  Last year, I laughed up my sleeve at all the people who wrote that they were fine with a black President but were worried about what their neighbors might do, because they were clearly projecting their own discomfort onto others.  Not long after that, a community of people that had spent the better part of a decade screaming at the Democrats to grow some spine because the Republicans would attack them no matter what saw that one of their heroes had potentially given the Republicans some ammunition...and capped the bastard as hard and fast as they could.  I believe that such an insane reversal is best explained by a latent puritanism that we must acknowledge and examine before it does us even greater harm.  Your alternate theory, that we turned on Edwards because he armed people that we all know arm themselves is a fig leaf, not an explanation, and your delusion on that score hurts us all.
by Endymion 2009-05-10 10:28PM | 0 recs
They must be the purest staffers ever.

More pure than Spitzer's or Villaragosa's or Clinton's or Newsom's or Gingrich's or Schwarzenegger's or Giuliani's staffers, certainly.

Really?  I mean, really?  I simply do not understand the ritual denunciation of Edwards by everyone since his affair became public knowledge.  I understand feeling betrayed or disappointed, but honestly, the outrage is so far out of proportion to the act that I can only conclude it's mostly for show, or a continuation of the unusually virulent hatred of Edwards within the beltway, or both.

by Drew 2009-05-10 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: They must be the purest staffers ever.

I think it was more the betrayal of the party then anything else that sparks the outrage. But I have always thought it was a little inflated.

by JDF 2009-05-10 01:13PM | 0 recs
America has ALWAYS been a puritanical

country, we are niave and childish compared to the Europeans on sexual matters...

We catch a politician lying through is teeth about matters of war, torture...

No biggee.

Catch him in a extra maritial affiar, 24/7 news headlines.

And, all these guys know, the days of the wink and a nod from Kennedy's days are dead and buried.

That is why I am saying T-rouble with a capital T, which Endimyon tried to imply I am some puritan.

Riel is high profile, and no value judgements of her private life are neccessary, she is high profile and that is plenty to mark her as more trouble then you can handle.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-10 02:11PM | 0 recs
Well that's OK then

Let's see, some people refused to join the Edwards campaign because of his affair, other staffers resigned once they learned the facts.

The ones who stayed are now saying that they didn't want him to be the nominee, but they were willing to take his contributor's money and pretend to support his campaign.

If, however, it had looked like he was going win the nomination, they were going to continue to take the money, but they would stab him in the back.

Well, that makes it OK then. Those are certainly the type of people I'd want working on my campaign.

by tentakles 2009-05-10 02:50PM | 0 recs
Winning isn't everything
You assume that the only goal of a primary campaign is to become the nominee.  Obviously, most primary candidates don't win, and very few campaigns are deluded about their chances; they're there to have an impact on the platform of the nominee, and if they get to be the nominee themselves that's just best.  
Nobody around here was saying Kucinich shouldn't run, although it was clear he couldn't win.  Some of Edwards' campaign staff came to the realization that Edwards had a situation which made him similarly unwinnable, and decided to stay on the job, big deal.  And they were willing to essentially force him out if he was dumb and didn't drop out on his own?  Discreetly?  I'd (not literally) kill for that kind of loyalty.  
As for the 'contributor's money' thing: campaigns spend money.  It's what they're for, it's what they do, we'd be better off if they did a lot more of it.  With the economy the way it is, I have a feeling by the next cycle we're all gonna be needing that limited-term gig at the copy shop down the street.
by Endymion 2009-05-10 03:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards Staffers Would Have Sank The Ship?

I can buy it.  It is a tough row to hoe if you get the reputation as a whistle-blower.  Kind of puts you out of contention for some other jobs of a "politically connected" nature.  

So --- if you can avoid that label by hanging in until the candidate is knocked out for other reasons, why put yourself in the potential position of being a pariah?  Besides, regardless of the inevitable "loss" by the candidate, having worked on the inside of a presidential campaign is "valuable stuff" for a young and aspiring staffer.  

I was once in a position in a corporation to execute a program I thought was "wrong"; not illegal, just "wrong" because good people would be hurt.  I spoke my mind at the top of the organization, but was overruled.  At that point, would it have been smart for me to fall on my sword?  I decided not, because the change WAS gonna happen and I felt I could at least affect it for the better around the edges by doing some "right things" under the radar.  

In the end, I got through went into a depression caused by stress, and then got another job elsewhere --- a glorious one at that. But if I had been fired for refusing to do what the company had decided, and that my replacement would do regardless?   With 3 kids and a spouse in grad school to support?  Nope.  It was hard to hang in, but I understood EXACTLY why I did it.    

by Terry Ott 2009-05-10 04:42PM | 0 recs
don't know whether I believe this

but if it's true they would have had no reason to blow the whistle before Iowa. Everyone knew Edwards' only chance was winning Iowa. If he loses there, they don't have to make themselves unemployable for ever and ever.

And of course you'd never work on a campaign again if you did go public about your candidate's extramarital affair.

He would have been swamped on Super Tuesday even if he'd won Iowa. I didn't believe that in 2007, but I believed it after Hillary came back and cleaned Obama's clock in Ohio after losing 10 primaries in a row. In retrospect, Edwards never could have put together a winning coalition against Clinton. Obama almost didn't even though he was getting 80 to 90 percent of the AA vote.

by desmoinesdem 2009-05-10 04:56PM | 0 recs
would have *sunk* /nt

by bluedavid 2009-05-10 07:46PM | 0 recs


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