24 March 2007


It's been a couple of days now since John and Elizabeth Edwards announced the recurrence of Elizabeth's cancer and I've waited a while to express an opinion on their decision to continue the presidential campaign so I could do so with a mind clear of the emotion of Thursday's press conference.

A story in today's New York Times sums up the wide-ranging public reaction to the Edwardses decision to continue the quest for the White House.
In the article the couple are praised for their graciousness, toughness and commitment to their goals. Others say the Edwardses are showing themselves to be slaves to ambition or unrealistic about the challenges that lie ahead.

The article also examines the effects these attitudes may have on John Edwards' chances of winning the Democratic nomination.

The bottom line, it seems to me, is this; The Edwardses are grownups who have been through the ringer before, with the death of their son in a car crash, and the initial diagnosis of Elizabeth's breast cancer coming in the waning days of a vice- presidential race that ended in bitter defeat.

So let's assume the Edwardses can decide for themselves what's best for them, and that their decision to continue was made because they both feel it is how they want to deal with their latest challenge.
It's not for the rest of us to decide what they should or should not do. Or what their decision says about them as people or what's in their heart.
But we, as voters, do have a decision to make that is rightly ours.
I have to say I like Edwards the candidate very much and from his public persona he seems like the type of person we could use as a leader. To be honest, he's in my top three of the 20 or so people running at this early stage.

But as a voter I have to consider the consequences of putting a man in the White House who might have to face the suffering and eventual death of his wife while trying to tend to the business of the nation at a very precarious time in history. In addition, he would be doing so while tending to the emotional needs of two still-young children who would be grieving as well.

There is plenty of time between now and the primaries. In the interim, the Edwardses may find that the task is too tall. Or they may prove to themselves and the rest of us that they are clearly up to the battle.
For now, I'm still very open to being convinced.

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