John Edwards' baby-daddy drama really makes you wish—aside from the obvious, that he'd been faithful to his wife—he was French. All this would have been handled entirely differently. Remember when Georges Pompidou died? His wife and family were at his funeral of course— but so were his longtime mistress and the adult illegitimate daughter they had together. At the wife's invitation. Only the French could make this seem normal and proper.
I don't believe I would be as generous under the same circumstances, but we're a different culture.
That, apparently, is something the former senator and presidential candidate didn't understand when he embarked on the affair he now admits. "He just did what a lot of guys do," one man posted on a blog. Yup, he did, but when you're running for president, you're not "a lot of guys" you're a very carefully scrutinized guy. Which I think Mr. Edwards knows.
Adultery can be thrilling for the people committing it, but it's rarely something that affects only the two lovers involved. It can be devastating to the spouse(s) of the adulterers, and so excruciating for children, if there are any, that it negatively impacts the rest of their lives.
The Edwardses will be paying for John's act for years to come. His political career probably won't survive the revelations that promise to pour forth from his former assistant's tell-all book, but the rest of us can learn some lessons from this whole sad experience:
1) If you yield to temptation, don't expect your employees to cover your back. You're having all the fun; they'll have all the headaches.
2) Don't ask your friends to lie for you. It puts them in a terrible position.
3) If you think you're being a suave player by having dalliances but not mentioning them, you're probably way more obvious than you believe yourself to be. You don't look suave, just sleazy.
4) Don't pass your other lover off as your nanny, assistant, videographer, bodyguard, biographer. It will come back to haunt you, and it just broadcasts that you consider the people you're lying to stupid. Usually they aren't.
5) If there's going to be drama if you attend your lover's funeral, have the good taste to stay away. You've already caused at least one family pain with your outside relationship; don't compound it by pushing yourself in their faces. If you're invited, sit where you're asked and remain as low-profile as possible.
If your life's ambition is to be written up in Jet, this is not the time.
Karen Grigsby Bates is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).
is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).