Debra J. Saunders

Yes, McCain was married when he met his current wife, Cindy, in 1979. The former prisoner of war did pay a political price for his behavior. Last month, the Los Angeles Times reported how the breakup of McCain's first marriage "fractured" his relationship with President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy.

That the L.A. Times would devote a story to a political rift that occurred almost 30 years ago only feeds the perception that there is a double standard in newspapers. Of course, the best exhibit of the double standard is the bogus New York Times piece in February that alleged, but failed to prove, that McCain had an affair with a lobbyist.

I believe The Chronicle was right not to report on rumored Edwards' story until his confession. Better to be late and right than early and wrong.

That said, only a double standard explains why the New York Times and other biggies failed to jump on reports that National Enquirer staff had caught Edwards after he met with Hunter at the Beverly Hilton during the wee hours of July 21. Sure, they first had to verify the story, as ABC News was working to do, but Times editors couldn't be bothered.

On the one hand, Democrats should feel good about having dodged the Edwards recklessness bullet. But the story has only served to feed the rage of Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters, some of who believe that without Edwards in the Democratic primary race, their gal might have won.

Or as former Clinton spokesman, Howard Wolfson, told ABC news: Without Edwards, "I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee."

If only the cad had stayed home.

As they say, live by the sword, die by the sword.

Debra J. Saunders

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