There is a hotly-anticipated new book about the 2008 campaign by John Heilmann and Mark Halperin called Game Change. Some excerpts were printed in New York Magazine that dealt with John Edwards, and it is not a pretty picture:
I wonder how often this type of thing happens. It's not clear whether Edwards would have wanted it announced immediately or been a secret deal for a while.
Yet Edwards had no intention of going quietly into any good night. He had a contingency plan. Two months earlier, he had asked Leo Hindery, a New York media investor who was one of his closest confidants, to convey an audacious proposal to Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader and a mentor to Obama: If Edwards won the caucuses, Obama would immediately drop out of the race and become his running mate; if Obama won, Edwards would do the converse. Wounding though a loss in Iowa would be to Hillary, she might be strong enough to bounce back. The only way to guarantee her elimination would be to take the extraordinary step of uniting against her.
This one is about Elizabeth Edwards, and it was very surprising to me, at least the specifics of how she treated her husband in public. Although once you consider the type of things he did, maybe it's not that shocking.
No one in the Edwardses’ political circle felt anything less than complete sympathy for Elizabeth’s plight. And yet the romance between her and the electorate struck them as ironic nonetheless—because their own relationships with her were so unpleasant that they felt like battered spouses. The nearly universal assessment among them was that there was no one on the national stage for whom the disparity between public image and private reality was vaster or more disturbing.
With her husband, she could be intensely affectionate or brutally dismissive. At times subtly, at times blatantly, she was forever letting John know that she regarded him as her intellectual inferior. She called her spouse a “hick” in front of other people and derided his parents as rednecks. One time, when a friend asked if John had read a certain book, Elizabeth burst out laughing. “Oh, he doesn’t read books,” she said. “I’m the one who reads books.”
This last one (there are many more at NY in the excerpts) is sad and pathetic.
Don’t do this interview unless you plan to tell the whole truth, Palmieri urged him, because if you lie, you’re going to make things infinitely worse. Edwards replied that he was going to confess to the affair, but deny paternity of the child. He didn’t want to jeopardize his chances of being Obama’s attorney general, he said.
“That, John?” Palmieri said in disbelief. “That was gone a long time ago.” Palmieri had been on the phone with the Obama campaign, which was sending the clear, if gentle, signal that there was no longer a slot available for Edwards to speak at the convention. “You have to call Obama right now” and back out, Palmieri said.
“I don’t want to give up on that yet,” Edwards insisted