They say you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. If that’s true, it’s not at all surprising that John Edward’s life is falling so spectacularly to pieces as more and more of his sordid deeds are revealed in his ongoing criminal trial. His sycophants are revealing all about the former presidential candidate and senator from North Carolina, but in doing so, they’ve also revealed their own complicity in his misdeeds.
Cheri Young, wife of Edwards’ top campaign aide Andrew Young, has been fielding tough questions on the witness stand. However, this grilling has earned her a reputation as a media darling with various publications referring to her as “feisty”, “spunky”, and in a total disservice to the source material, “a steel magnolia”. The reverence used to describe the woman who helped cover up one of the biggest political scandals of the century is disconcerting. She wasn’t a victim of her husband’s ambition, she was an accomplice. Where are her criminal charges?
John Edwards is on trial for the criminal misappropriation of campaign funds. The charges allege that Edwards took funds that were improperly donated and that those funds were used to help cover up his affair with mistress and mother of his lovechild, Rielle Hunter. It’s not looking good for Edwards. The whole trial centers around $900,000 in campaign contributions that ended up going to house and care for Hunter. The Youngs’ testimony has revealed the havoc attempting to conceal the mistress wreaked on their marriage. Not only did Andrew Young initially claim that he was the father of Hunter’s child, the entire Young family uprooted from their North Carolina home and began moving around the country frequently to evade press notice.
Their testimony against Edwards has revealed details both intimate and bizarre about the massive production required to keep Edwards’ affair under wraps. The testimony revealed an unflattering portrait of Edwards as a man so certain of his own power and eventual success that he believed himself infallible. What no one’s mentioning is that the Youngs were both completely complicit in this scheme and did little to stop it or even question what was going on.
The Youngs were willing to sacrifice everything in the name of proximity to power. They hitched their wagon to a pony they thought would eventually be the President of the United States. However, all their machinations were for naught when that pony turned out to be a philandering mule.
Ambition and drive are qualities that typically should be rewarded; however, when those qualities result in an override of any semblance of a moral compass, that’s a problem. Is Edwards guilty of misappropriating campaign funds in an attempt to hide his affair? Most likely, but he could not have done it without help. Edwards was only as good as the people around him, and those people were willing to turn a blind eye to Edwards’ wrongdoings to maintain their place in his inner circle. Edwards needed enablers, and those he had in spades. His aides and accomplices are just as responsible for the mismanaged campaign funds as Edwards.
In theory, the Youngs could serve as the perfect cautionary tale about what happens when the quest for power leads one astray from the path of acceptable conduct. However, given their reverential treatment in the media and forthcoming book and movie deal, it seems as if this is just another case of proximity to power being a profitable enterprise.