John Edwards was one of few politicians that advocated for the poor.
The bringing down of a populist politician on morals charges is a common tactic of the dominant class to resist challenges to their authority.
In the light most favorable to Edwards, he is a gregarious people person with a sick wife who is constantly having women hit on him. He allowed a particularly crafty one to seduce him, and she made financial demands on him. He asked a friend to help meet those demands to keep it quiet. In virtually all other countries around the world, including most democracies, and very likely in the U.S. as well, his actions are the norm.
Granted, it was extremely irresponsible for Edwards to risk losing the White House to the Republicans because of his personal misconduct, and for that he deserves a hard kick in the pants.
All of us have known people who did things much worse than Edwards, and we still respect them and believe in them and defend them. Why should we turn on Edwards, who advocated for, organized, and cared about the poor?
Parnell in Ireland was also flayed publically and brought down by an extramarital affair, a hypocrisy exposed by Joyce in Portrait of the Artist. In a later work, Joyce wrote:
“In his final desperate appeal to his countrymen, he [Parnell] begged them not to throw him as a sop to the English wolves howling around them. It redounds to their honour that they did not fail this appeal. They did not throw him to the English wolves; they tore him to pieces themselves.”
Why are liberals in such a rush to tear Edwards to pieces?