JOHN EDWARDS’ NATIONALLY TELEVISED confession on ABC’s Nightline this week was absolutely unconvincing and, in the end, rather revolting. “I don’t know who that baby is,” Edwards said when asked if he had, indeed, fathered the young child of Rielle Hunter.

That baby? Haven’t we heard that before? You know, like when Big Bill referred to Ms. Lewinsky as “that woman.”

We’re supposed to believe that Edwards had a secret affair in 2006 with Hunter as he was launching his presidential bid, that she traveled with him for months, that she took in $114,000 from his political organization for work that was never used, that she has been raking in something like 15 grand a month from his former campaign-finance chair, that she is somehow magically living in a $3 million Santa Barbara mansion, that he’s been trying to hide the affair since The National Enquirer made it public 10 months ago, that he met with Hunter — who was with that baby — at 2 in the morning a few weeks ago in a Beverly Hills hotel. But he doesn’t know and didn’t ask who the daddy is of that baby? That same baby born smack dab in the middle of his presidential campaign?

There are those who say that with a runaway administration in power in Washington, with the White House plan to codify torture now confirmed by Jane Mayer’s new book, and the manufacturing of evidence to support the Iraq war now on display in Ron Suskind’s latest tome; with kangaroo courts now open for business in Gitmo and with John McCain neatly avoiding any real scrutiny of his own caddish behavior with his first, then-ailing wife, that any extended coverage of Edwards’ personal sins is a trivial distraction from “the issues.”

Oh gawd. These are the same Democratic Dopes who excused Clinton for “lying about sex.” You know the chant: No One Died When Clinton Lied. That’s right. No one died. But Bush got elected as part of the anti-Clinton revulsion and then all the dying started.

It’s precisely the gross and flagrant violation of our constitution and of our national values by seven dreadful years of the Bush administration that makes Edwards’ betrayal of his supporters, his donors, his funders and — potentially — the greater interests of his country so disgusting. I voted for this guy, damnit, and I want my vote back! We can only thank the stars that he didn’t actually win the nomination. Imagine if he were now the Democrat candidate with this story breaking. McCain would be merrily looking at fabric swatches for the Oval Office instead of trying to dream up the latest desperate smear of Obama.

IT’S EASY TO SAY that a politician’s sex life is his own business. That it’s a personal matter. That it’s something to be sorted out between himself and his family and his therapist. That it’s none of our business.

Well, you and I might (or might not) think all of the above. But millions of other voters definitely do not. And when you run for the office of president of the United States and you are counting on all of those votes, then you know this as one of those other basic facts of life.

If Edwards had disclosed this affair from the beginning, or copped to it when the Enquirer story broke last fall and had said to the media and the voters, just lump it, he might be given a pass. Instead, Edwards thrust his dying wife and his adorable kids out on the stump on a near daily basis and clearly utilized his family as a campaign prop.

Hey, I also swooned for the guy. Right from the get-go. I was in the front row during the first “presidential forum” held in Carson City a long, long 18 months ago, and I bit the hook. What I found most appealing about Edwards was that he seemed like a guy who had some sort of life-changing epiphany after the humiliating defeat of 2004. He spoke with an uncharacteristic bluntness not only about those hallowed “issues” to which everyone so obediently genuflects but he also went out of his way to emphasize the crucial importance of electing a president who was — in his own words — “honest, open and moral.” As I thumb through my notebook from that afternoon in February 2007, I see that I double-underlined that phrase.

Edwards used it again and again as I followed him nearly a year later through Iowa and into Nevada. He repeatedly urged the voters to measure the character of the candidate they would elect. The implications of that phrasing were clear. It was a double-barreled shot aimed at both Bush and, yes, Hillary Clinton. Edwards wanted us to know that he would not lie or deceive us as Bush did to get us into war. Nor would he any longer try to justify his original Senate vote to authorize the invasion as Clinton was doing.

Unlike her, he apologized for that vote. Just like he would later apologize for lying about his affair with Hunter.

Turns out that Edwards was right about one thing — that whole Two Americas meme. The America that we live in. And the America that exists in his swollen head.

LA Weekly