Frank Bruni has a wonderful column in today’s NYT, “A Shared State of Defeat,” about Newtie and Edwards:
“At one point toward the end of last week, as each of them mustered stoic faces for sorry fates, John Edwards and Newt Gingrich were only a few dozen miles apart. Edwards sat mutely in a courtroom in Greensboro, N.C., where his breathtaking deceptions in the service of his towering ambitions were laid bare for the world, which watched raptly, but not in admiration.
“Gingrich shuffled pointlessly through a zoo in Asheboro, N.C., a peacock with faded plumage, still preening and still campaigning, though the attentions of most reporters and the affections of most voters had moved on.
“Beware the extreme narcissist. Although he may radiate a seductive confident, he can justify and forgive himself for just about anything, given his belief in his own exalted purpose. He’ll lose sense of the line between boldness and recklessness.
“What once drew so many people to Edwards and to Gingrich? Both men had an exaggerated and infectious certainty about them. … It is the kind of thing that assuages a voter’s anxieties.
“It is also the kind of thing that arises from vanity on a scale well beyond the political norm. Gingrich spoke of himself in ludicrously grandiose terms. Edwards charted the size of his crowds and the volume of their applause the way a day trader watches the Dow.
“When you’re that wholly in thrall to your own heady promise, you exempt yourself from rules, absolve yourself of hypocrisy and persuade yourself that you’ll get away with it. And so Gingrich, pressed for the impeachment of a philandering president despite his own continuing adultery, made his partner in adultery his third wife, and then preached traditional values with her on this arm.
“It was almost inevitable that he cheated: someone as intent on affirmation as Gingrich — or Edwards — isn’t likely to remain content with the knowing gaze of a longtime spouse. He needs the bedazzled expression of a fresh acolyte.
“Edwards commenced his lunatic dalliance with Rielle Hunter at his moment of greatest political possibility, not long after he’d been his party’s vice presidential nominee and shortly before he ramped up a new bid for the top of the ticket.
“And neither the affair’s exposure nor the birth of the couple’s child convinced him that his political career was done. He got a slavishly loyal aide to claim to be the baby’s father. As hard as it is to imagine such sycophancy, it’s harder still to imagine the hubris and entitlement of the leader who would request and be comfortable with it.”