I admit I didn’t really consider John Edwards much when he ran for President the first time. I thought he was making his move too soon. As John Kerry’s running mate, however, he impressed me far more than did Kerry. Edwards may be well off, but he didn’t flaunt it during the campaign. He actually appeared, and appears now, to be down to earth.
Enter Elizabeth Edwards.
Again, first time around, I didn’t notice her that much at all. I was too preoccupied defending Kerry from the absurdly weird Swift Boat people. But Elizabeth is someone I want to get to know more.
At the end of June she won the nation’s attention — and the gratitude of many — for confronting right-wing provocateur Ann Coulter live on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” after Coulter called John Edwards a “faggot” at a conservative conference in March, and joked in June about wishing he’d be assassinated. Since then she has been in San Francisco twice campaigning for gay rights, keynoting before the annual gay pride march in June and addressing the Human Rights Campaign’s awards dinner on July 14. And where her husband, like the other leading Democrats in the presidential race, supports civil unions but balks at gay marriage, Elizabeth Edwards has come out behind full marriage rights.
Wow. And she understands her husband for only making it up to civil unions:
Well, I think it’s a struggle for him, having grown up in a Southern Baptist church where it was pounded into him. I was raised a Methodist in military churches. Poverty was talked about; I don’t remember homosexuality ever being mentioned. And I don’t think that Christians who aren’t engaged in a political campaign ever talk about it. They talk about poverty and other issues talked about in the Bible. But in churches, in political season, there’s plenty of ginning up this issue.
The rest of the interview is equally spectacular. Asked if she expected criticism for working on John’s campaign in spite of her health, her answer is brilliant:
I had no idea I’d get that kind of criticism. But you know, people who’ve been in this situation haven’t criticized me. And the people who haven’t — I just hope they never go through it. And it got worse after [the] Coulter [incident]. Well, we were talking about home-schooling the kids anyway, before I got sick. John’s gone all the time, I’m gone a lot, and it was going to be the only way for us to be together as a family.
But you know, after all I’ve been through, I realize: You don’t know exactly what life lessons you taught your kids until much later. You don’t. And maybe the most important life lesson for them is for me to say, When bad things happen, you don’t let them take you down. If I hadn’t continued to campaign, I’d be sending the opposite message: When bad things happen, go hide. Do I know with absolute certainty we’re doing the right thing? I don’t. Having been through what I’ve been through, I hope people trust I wouldn’t risk my relationship with my children. I think this is the right choice.
Mrs. Edwards, if you come across this, my hat is off to you. I’ll be paying more attention to John now. Much more.