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March 24, 2007

Comments

Dana

Great question John.

If I was battling a life threatening illness, I definitely would NOT want my husband focusing his time and energy furthering his career.

That's just my two cents, though. Obviously Elizabeth Edwards feels differently, since she publicly supports her husbands' decision to run..... She's either crazy, very brave or very selfless, or maybe a little of all three.

Mandy

I would have to say we'd be out too. He took a vow to be devoted to his wife (not to politics).

Ben (in touch with my femine side)

At first, I thought - what a shame that they've thrown in the towel on the diagnosis. "Incurable" without a comment like "God willing, or short of a miracle, or our prayers are for a full recover, or asking for prayers, etc.". I'm always looking for a glimmer of hope from folks in these situations to the Almighty who can cure this "incurable" disease. I tried not to let myself think this was politically motivated (public announcement) but now I see they are continuing with the interview trail. I remember Peter Jennings - it was a major announcement and then it went quite - it was left alone - private affair. Running for political office, the highest office - will certainly make this physical battle public. I read the comment "we didn't want to run and cower away" - that's the last thing I would accused them of if they did pull out of the race.. Who knows what money has to do with it. Do major contributors to the campaign weigh in? Did they drive him on? I’ll ask my wife what her thoughts are . . .

Jean Crane

Well, I'm unveiling the mystery... I am definitely against Edwards running for presidency. I can't imagine that he would even entertain the thought, when his wife has been diagnosed with a fatal illness. I know I would be hurt if my husband continued a political campaign (which would mean much time away), when I was potentially in my last days.

Abby Hoefer

Hi Guys-
I think it is horrible that he is running. His poor wife will live her last days in the public eye while he attempts to say and do whatever necessary to get elected.....
And he will probably use this cancer and illness to get the sympathetic vote....
Just my female thoughts....
Abby

Jana

I was surprised by his announcement and wondered, simply, "Why?" Do they think things are going to get easier or that she will benefit from being dragged around the country while he campaigns? Today, I saw a close up of her watching him speak and I couldn't help but wonder how tired and worn-down she already must feel or will soon be. I wonder how they will deal with her countless doctor appts? How will she get the care and rest she'll need while on the road sleeping in a motor coach living in the public eye? What if she can't take it anymore and needs to just lay in bed at home - where will he be? I just don't get it. I guess time will tell. My mom died of breast cancer so I have seen the worst side of it. I wish Elizabeth Edwards the best.

Melinda

When I first heard the announcement, my thought was..."John Edwards is running for President?"..Obviously he is, but it took a minute of processing to remember Obama and Hillary aren't the only two in the race. Then I thought, "Well, he is definitely back in the press, and he just got the sympathy vote and the vote from those with a similar life experience." But lastly I thought, "Is it fair for me to assume he did this simply for press and votes?." I don't know John Edwards, and I don't know his wife. I don't know the life of a career politician. Do they feel this path is their purpose, and they have a cause that stirs such a passion that they would put that before their own personal problems? Is this the best way to achieve the purpose they feel God has for them? Are they looking to fulfill goals set long ago, and this is her last shot? Is there something in all this that is motivated by showing their children how to persevere towards a goal? Or is it just a pure ego trip to try and gain more political control at any cost? I don't know. I would like to think she wants to go out trying to achieve something life altering,and this is the vehicle to get it done. Honestly, I have no clue how I personally would react. I guess it would depend at what point in my life I was hit with the diagnosis. If it came tomorrow, I think I would like to spend my last days doing something of significance to enhance my children's futures.
In any case, let's hope she is happy, can achieve whatever her motivation is... and it is the right choice for all directly involved.

Dave

No one except the Edwards really know the truth here, but I actually think we could all be reading this from the completely wrong side. If your spouse - whom you had wholeheartedly supported throughout every endeavor - was about to reach the pinnacle of their career, would you want to be the one to quench those dreams because of health issues? For all we know, Mr. Edwards decided to step away and his wife asked him to continue (of course, if that we true it could never be made public, for that in itself would ruin his chances).

Courtney

I must say my initial reaction to Edward's announcement is "What a jerk!". I can't believe he would continue running for office when his wife is DYING! However, after reading the article in the Chicago Tribune which portrays this as a joint decision (although it's hard to truly know his wife's real feelings), I have a bit more respect for the guy. A man who can inspire this kind of devotion to a cause, and a woman who is this supportive of her husband must have something good going. I can understand as well that since this is not her first diagnosis of cancer, the couple may want to continue on with the campaign in order to distract themselves. I would want a tangible goal, a reason for living, a worthy cause. Who wants to sit around waiting for death? If this is how she chooses to spend her last days, I say go for it!

Beth Cullison

I think it's OK for John Edwards to continue his race for the presidency at this point, even though his wife has a recurrence of cancer. Having just heard Elizabeth Edwards speak yesterday on C-Span Book TV (a book reading, question-answering forum from last October, 2006) - here are my reasons for the "OK" opinion.

I think this is a personal family decision and families are unique in what each one can or cannot handle. The Edwards' family has seemingly dealt with the loss of a son and one bout of cancer already ... in addition to dealing with a presidential campaign. (They know what they're getting into.)

It was during the last presidential election that Elizabeth found out that she had cancer. In the C-Span show, she said she wasn't scared to get cancer again, but admitted she was an eternal optimist.

Mr. Edwards will probably not win the Democratic nomination and so the race they are on will most likely end with the Democratic Convention if not sooner, but who knows.

The bottom line - Elizabeth's health and the health of their marriage and family are way more important than any presidential race. I hope this is a good desicion for keeping them focused on regular life (whatever that is for candidates) and that they will take measures to ensure her the rest and support she'll need for round 2 of cancer.

Rachel

My initial reaction? How can John Edwards play the "committed family man" when he is running for president while his wife is raising two children and battling cancer at the same time? I realize that with cancer treatments nowadays, Elizabeth Edwards can live quite a long time and perhaps even be quite comfortable. I also realize that when given a diagnosis like she has, you can't just sit around and wait to die. So, yes, they need to keep living. But running for president is too much for their situation. I think it smacks of irresponsibilty, a weak marriage (I would be so angry if my husband did not make career or lifestyle changes if I received a diagnosis like that) and an attitude that is not in touch with the general American public. I think this will hurt his run for the presidency. And most of all, I feel sorry for his wife that she has to do all of this on her own. Another question that no one seems to be asking....what about those two children that they are still raising? Elizabeth will be very busy with cancer treatments and will be weak emotionally and physically....don't these children deserve at least one parent to devote their undivided attention on them?

Mandy

Mr. Edwards will probably not win the Democratic nomination and so the race they are on will most likely end with the Democratic Convention if not sooner, but who knows. -Beth

In response to this: All the more reason to be done. Will he regret the decision if she dies in a year? If he doesn't become the president? Then he'll be alone AND without the presidency.
I just wonder how he can deal with this family crisis when he's a little busy doing other things. Is helping her a priority for him?
I honestly think a better example to the kids would be to devote 100% to thier mother. I think they're sending the kids the wrong message. Can a family member be "set aside" for pursuit of a career, no matter the level? I say no.

Kelly

As much as I would want my husband to drop everything and be there for me if I ever had to battle cancer, I also would not want to deny him his dream. Mrs. Edwards has said several times that she wants her husband to become President just as much, if not more than he does. Allowing the cancer to deny them the goal they have been striving for together, would be in my eyes and I believe theirs, throwing in the towel and admitting that the cancer had already won. By continuing on this course they started long ago, I think it not only enables the Edwards to spend the time they have left together, doing what they love, but it also is an encouragement to those going through a similar circumstance, that they don't have to put their lives on hold. I really think Mr. Edwards' decision to continue his run for Presidency was not his alone. I'm sure he would gladly step down if his wife asked him to.

Sarah

I feel as though he needs and should be at home with his wife and family. This is going to speak volumes to his children in the short and long run. How good is a leader when his home life is not in shape. Despite her desire to continue on the campaign trail, I have to bet that she would feel quite honored to be cared for in a tangible way by her husband. The kids need to see this and they need to be a family. End of life cancer care is not pleasant. You would want your loved ones around you. There will be times when presence is needed and a phone call just won't cut it. But then...maybe they don't have a close relationship that would be helpful in this way...even more reason to stop running for President.

Melissa

Wow! When I heard the story on the news I thought he is being very selfish. He should want to spend as much time with his wife and family instead of on the campaign trail. How would he feel in the end knowing that he chose his career over his wife? I know she says she supports him but what else would she really say. It might be a great distraction for both of them.

Beth Cullison

Ben Witherington, Asbury Seminary professor, has a post regarding this topic. If you're interested, his blog site is http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/

Jim Leech

I am posting my response prior to reading any of the others. And I am posting this politically unbiased. I am osting this as a husband and father who made vows to my wife, life long vows, though sickness and health.

First, I have to believe that my wife's health, as well as the health of my family, would come first. While I know that I would not be able to quit working all together financially, I would like to think that I would do whatever it takes to are for my wife and my children. We're not talking about a 9 to 5 job to pay the bills, we're talking about putting one's own wants, needs, and ambitions over the health of your wife. We're talking about running for the presidency. We're talking about asking your sick wife to go campaign for you on her own. Whether she says she wants to or not, it is your responsibility to make that decision easy for her. You never know when that last day will come for sure, but if you know there's a chance it may come soon, I'd want to spend as much time as possible with my wife. And running for president is not spending as much time as possible with her and you children.

Take it a step further. While running for president, you are telling the american public that if they elect you, the health of your wife will not affect your decisions, will not distract you in any way from running the country. That in itself bothers me greatly.

Jim Leech

I've now read the other posts, and sorry for the misspellings in my own. But I have not changed my view. As a husband and father, in my opinion, this is not something you can do. And if you don't even think you'll make it past the primaries, don't waste that time. Its not admitting the cancer has won, its not admitting defeat. While I am completely for continuing to live your life, this goes way beyond that in my view. Like I said, we're not talking about punching a clock, working an assembly line, flipping burgers. We're talking the President of the United States. We're talking about weeks, months away at a time. We're talking about putting your wife in the public eye as she battles this. We're talking about a man asking his wife to run the family and campaign while going through the toughest fight of her life. This is about John Edwards being a man and making that tough decision, albeit the unselfish decision, to end this race to be president and devoting his full time and energy in the race to beat this cancer. To put all of his efforts into helping his wife beat cancer again. There will be more opportunities to be president if that is something he truly wants, but now is not the time. There may not be more opportunities to spend time with your wife.

Ben (for Sheri)

I just asked Sheri and her comment was - no way - not a good move. Spending time with your kids/wife in her final years would be the highest priority or what seems like should be the highest priority. I just can't imagine hindsight validating the decision to run as a wise one. As these potentially final years unravel, will your memory be of the "campagin" or those precious memories that could still be made?

Melinda

Thanks Beth for sending the link. I really enjoyed the blog, and feel he has good feedback. (I also enjoyed Beth's point of view).

I have thought about writing more from the point of view of a wife who works professionally along with personally with her husband. But it is hard to expain how much more intertwined your lives come together. It is difficult for those who leave each other early in the morning, are apart all day, and then get a couple hours in the evening to understand. In that case, of course you want to spend what time you can together. But the Edward's are working this TOGETHER. It is as much hers as his. And she seems to feel up to it. If she has a hospital stay, it will be like calling in sick to work, and a phone call to update her will keep her connected. But again, I don't think this is something most couples can understand. After spending truely most of 18 years together (24/7) because of work, I would feel connected if only by the phone.

As far as the kids go, what better example than husband and wife working side by side for a cause? And I'm sure they involve the kids. I know our kids are involved in our work! Whether it's simply riding in the car, or actually doing hands on work. And they see my husband and I communicating at all levels. It is big connection for the entire family.

Jim Leech

Sorry Melinda, but I couldn't disagree more. What happens when they can't be together? And they have already been apart, campaigning separately. What happens if and when she gets so sick that she can't be there. She can't take care of the kids, but Dad can't either because he is campaigning? A phone call to keep the family together? They are not running a business out of the family home, these people will not be home for the next 18 months. And then if he wins? He will either be distracted by his wife's condition and not effectively running the country or he will not be distracted by his wife's condition and running the country. Not sure which is worse, but I guarantee you that you cannot have it both ways.

A good example to the kids - Put God and family first in your life.

Stephanie Wattles

I completely disagree with his decision to run - it shows exactly where is priorities are, which I feel is very unfortunate.

Melinda

I find it very strange that some expressing views against John Edwards running for President seem to be condemning only him, not Mrs. Edwards.

Anyway, at the risk of wearing out my welcome on this subject, let me offer two scenarios. #1: I gave birth at a midwife clinic when such a thing was not only uncommon, but midwives were questioned by most in this metropolitan area. I had no type of painkillers for all four of my children (who were each between 8 & 9 pounds, so not small by any means). And I went home within 12 hours of the birth. I know we were judged and talked about behind our backs. "This is not how most people do things. Is it safe for the baby? What are they thinking?" And if you had been in the hall listening during the bith, you would have been able to tell it was not pain free. You might have judged by husband for not making them give me something for the pain. "How can he allow her to go through that without some relief?" But I must tell you that every decision made was mine. I did not even give him a choice in the entire process. Yet he was judged anyway. And I could turn it around and ask do you judge a husband when he ‘allows’ his wife to have an epidural? Sometimes painkillers cause contractions to stop. In rare cases, if the mom's water has already broken and the birth is not soon enough (natural or emergency C-section), the baby can die. Rare, but I personally know of one mom who had to endure this horrible incidence. Yet I never once judged her decision to have drugs, let alone her husband’s allowing it. I understand most people do not have the pain tolerance I do, and do not think the way I do on childbirth.

I could offer a couple other scenarios in relation to a mom deciding to work full time ouside the home, or even what type of work. I know the office of President of the US make this a bit unique, but my current line of work is one people find unique as well. For the sake of space, I'll leave it to the above.

I think it is important to remember God made each of us with different personalities, and gave us different ways of handling life. Just because we each think differently doesn’t make our varied decisions wrong or right. I don’t see the validity in judging the Edwards on how they personally handle this event for their family. Let alone judge on a moral level. But I do see the validity on #1 forming our personal decision re: if we would make the same decision put in their place. And #2: using the information to help form our vote.

Barbara

Elizabeth cannot predict, nor control her physical state. It's good she has a positive attitude, but it is either ignorance or a pollyana attitude that would allow her to say she could continue in the next weeks as she has in the past. I believe that John Edwards' love for his wife should cause him to give her his fullest possible attention. He should step down from the Presidential race. They probably have limited time with each other and should experience the greatest depth and breadth of family and spiritual growth possible at this time.

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