Democratic strategists loudly insist that the tawdry sex scandal consuming John Edwards will do no damage to the Obama campaign.
Despite the very public embraces between the former North Carolina senator and the presumptive nominee, Obama apologists (can we coin a new term-- "Obamapologists"?) dismiss the Edwards case as an irrelevant distraction. After all, they say that their man never seriously considered his former rival as a potential running mate or even for a major cabinet post, so the unfolding disgrace of a one-time elected official bears no connection to Barack's visionary campaign of hope, change, and global redemption.
For two reasons, however, the meltdown of the sleazy operator long known on my radio show as "The Reptilian Con Edwards" can still hurt Obama's candidacy.
First, it ought to be obvious that the way this story unfolded re-enforces the widespread public impression that media coverage of politics is biased and slanted on behalf of liberal Democrats. A recent Rasmussen survey showed that 55% of respondents already believe that major TV networks, prestige newspapers and mass circulation magazines favor Obama and the Democrats, and as this belief hardens and spreads it will encourage voters to open their minds to the messages of the other side.
Regarding the Edwards affair, mainstream media outlets have already begun questioning their decision to give the former Senator a pass on rumors swirling around him for several years. While the National Enquirer (America's new "journal of record"?) doggedly pursued the stories, more respectable reporters chose to ignore all sorts of available evidence of hanky-panky--- including the on-the-record payment of $114,000 to a blonde, new-agey space-case with no relevant experience to travel with the candidate around the world (even to Africa) making web videos about his "essence." Hillary's press aide Howard Wolfson grumbles about press malfeasance in dropping the ball on this story and thereby destroying her campaign, on the theory that an unexposed Edwards took more votes from her than he did from Barack. In any event, the whole embarrassing mess -- with the major networks and prestige papers utterly "scooped" by the National Enquirer -- underlines the notion that the press plays favorites, especially when it comes to liberal pretty boys who talk in soaring platitudes.