A wise man once said of John Edwards: “I think he’s a reprehensible person. But not every scum or liar or reprehensible person is a criminal.”
Those thoughts came to mind when this observer read National Review‘s take on the recent Edwards mistrial, which appears in full below.
If sleaziness, dishonesty, and egomania were criminal offenses, John Edwards would deserve a life sentence. But they are not. Neither is giving a lot of money to your mistress. Edwards walked in a trial that never should have happened. Prosecutors relied on a creative interpretation of campaign-finance law to argue that the woman with whom he had a daughter, the star-struck hanger-on Rielle Hunter, was a campaign expense, and therefore the Edwards donors who paid to keep her happy had, in effect, made donations to his campaign above the legal limit. But the money didn’t go to his campaign and wasn’t spent by his campaign. Edwards would have had an incentive to keep Hunter on board even if he hadn’t been running for president — to avoid the obloquy of public exposure. The jury acquitted Edwards on one charge and deadlocked on the rest. “Not a criminal” is about the best thing anyone can say of John Edwards.