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John Edwards' sincerity has been questioned before

August 9, 2008 |  9:28 pm

The revelations the last couple of days about the romantic affair that former senator, former vice presidential nominee and former presidential candidate John Edwards had with Rielle Hunter outside his marriage prompted our blogging colleague Jim Tankersley over at the Swamp to pull out a profile he wrote on Edwards last year.

Even today, his words seem pretty prescient. At the end of this item be sure to watch the video on Rielle Hunter.

Former North Carolina senator John and Elizabeth Edwards on the presidential Democratic primary trail together before his affair with Rielle Hunter became public

Edwards' admissions -- that he had an affair while his wife Elizabeth battled cancer -- break sharply from the family-man image the former senator has cultivated his entire political career. They also crystallize many detractors' long-held worries about Edwards' sincerity and authenticity.

As I wrote in a profile of Edwards last year:

(Former John Kerry consultant Bob) Shrum's memoir, published this year, hints at what rivals say could keep Edwards from the nomination: a question of authenticity.

Shrum writes that Edwards, interviewing with Kerry for the vice-presidential ...

... nod [in 2004], told Kerry a story about his son Wade's funeral that he claimed never to have told anyone before -- except, Kerry remembered, Edwards had told him the same story the previous year.

Rivals add to that Edwards' infamous $400 haircuts -- he said he didn't know they'd be so expensive -- and the dream house, complete with indoor basketball court and swimming pool, that he and Elizabeth are building outside Chapel Hill, N.C.

They note his shift from Senate centrist to arguably the most liberal positions of the top '08 Democratic contenders. Even his campaign headquarters, nestled amid trendy restaurants and a Google branch office in an upscale Chapel Hill development, has sparked controversy for its symbolism.

Friends and aides liken Edwards' personal wealth and commitment to poverty to the Kennedy clan -- perhaps Edwards' true political heroes; he was close with Ted Kennedy in the Senate and would listen to Robert Kennedy's taped speeches on drives between North Carolina and Washington.

John and Elizabeth Edwards, who are continuing the campaign despite her cancer's recurrence this spring, prefer to invoke his working-class roots.

"It's sort of naive, it's sort of masterfully brilliant," a former Edwards advisor said. "They think they're normal people. They think they're like a soccer mom and a small-town lawyer. They think, 'They're normal America, and we're normal America, and they'll understand.' "

Edwards writes in "Four Trials," his book about courtroom successes and life challenges, that early in his law career, "I learned that trials are about credibility -- and that if a jury is to believe your case, a jury must believe you."

Jim's got more on Edwards right here.

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Associated Press

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