John Edwards' admission of an affair with 42-year old campaign staffer Rielle Hunter finally confirmed persistent rumors dodging the blogosphere throughout the primary election. The questionable reputation of The National Enquirer, the lead source of this sordid story, bolstered Edwards' ability to deny initial infidelity reports and keep reputable news organizations off the investigative trail.
With the affair out in the open and Edwards offering to help prove paternity of Hunter's newborn, pundits now debate Edwards' political future. Some, like Clinton loyalist James Carville, claim "his political career is in shambles." Others, like former presidential candidate John Kerry "don't know what's possible and what's gone."
It's not so much his infidelity -- despicable as it may be to have cheated on a wife whose cancer was in remission -- but the vehement way in which Edwards and his campaign staff denied initial reports. This breach of public trust brands Edwards as a liar, a difficult character trait to erase. If history is any indication of the outcome, the public will not soon forget.
Take a look at public reaction to these famous infidelities.
In a recent television news poll, former President Bill Clinton was voted top political adulterer of all time. Some point to Clinton for wife Hillary's bitter loss in the 2008 primaries. Clinton's attempts to cover-up of his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky threatened to bring down his presidency. Today, there are people who blame his indiscretions for the events leading up to 9/11.
Actress Meg Ryan was America's sweetheart until she publicly cheated on husband Dennis Quaid with Australian new comer Russell Crowe. Their subsequent divorce lead Ryan into seclusion and questionable plastic surgery. In a recent interview with Parade magazine, Ryan revealed, "It's a very big surprise in life when you learn that not everyone is rooting for you." Since falling off the radar, none of Ryan's movies have achieved critical or box office success.
Stand-up comic and actor Eddie Murphy was voted the world's leading love rat for insensitively dumping Spice Girl Melanie Brown and refusing paternity testing for her daughter, Iris Angel. He finally admitted paternity after Brown filed suit. Before then, Murphy famously cheated on wife and mother of his five other children Nicole Mitchell with a transvestite prostitute, resulting in a messy divorce. He subsequently split with Tracey Edmonds reportedly because she refused to sign a prenuptial agreement. Murphy's movies have had mixed reactions at the box office. His Shrek animation franchise plays to large crowds, but his solo features are not as popular. Perhaps most telling of public reaction is Murphy's stunning loss of an Academy Award for his moving turn as James Early in the widely successful Dreamgirls, this after being called the odds on favorite.
The philandering of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is described as the height of hypocrisy for Gingrich had publicly rebuked the embattled Bill Clinton at the same time as his own indiscretions. Gingrich famously dumped first wife Jackie as she recuperated from cancer in the hospital. When his pastor criticized him for failing to support his two children, he left the church. Gingrich also dumped wife number two, Marianne, in a Mother's Day telephone conversation after cheating with Congressional aide, Callista Bisek. Although they subsequently married, the scandal likely kept Gingrich out of the 2008 election. Though the scandal was still under wraps when Gingrich famously resigned his position as Speaker of the House, some still blame his infidelity for costing the Republican Party.
Before there was Team Aniston and Team Jolie, crooner Eddie Fisher famously broke actress Debbie Reynolds' heart by running away with actress Elizabeth Taylor. Todd Fisher, the couple's son, called his father's infidelity the "scandal of all times." Fisher and Taylor quickly married and divorced. Still, fans sided with Reynolds against the evil Fisher and Liz. Fisher never had another top 40 hit after his marriage to Taylor. At best, his movie career is described as mediocre. And over time, Fisher has been relegated to performing in smaller and smaller venues.