I usually have a very clear-cut sense of what is right or wrong morally and politically. The announcement today by John Edwards that his wife, Elizabeth, has an incurable form of cancer but that he will continue his quest for the presidency has me baffled.

I really don’t know where to come down on this one. Either Edwards is a selfish SOB of the worst sort, willing to put his vain, power-hungry pursuit of the presidency before everything else, including his seriously ill wife, or he and his wife are shining examples of how to press ahead towards noble goals in the face of the most difficult circumstances.

My first reaction was that only a bastard would not stay home with his wife and make her and her health his priority.  My first reaction is that I would stay home with my wife, give her the support and personal reassurance and love that I could. Part of that reaction was a very political assessment that the world would survive very nicely without an Edwards Presidency. It’s not as if — all political hyperbole aside — the world’s dire crises could only be solved by Edwards. So, stay home and take care of a sick spouse.

On the other side of this is Elizabeth herself and what she needs to deal with her diagnosis. She seems as driven towards the winning the White House as he is. And like many people who receive such difficult medical news, the best medicine they can take is to go on actively doing whatever they were doing before. Perhaps John Edwards made his decision not for his own personal reasons alone, but because he knows his wife needs this campaign, too.

I am sure, like a lot of people, I will go back and forth on this topic. I look forward to reading and hearing how other people react to this.

(We’ve had a few emails about this already. Here’s a comment from a Philly area blogger about priorities. I think we will see more questions about Edwards’ priorities as this discussion continues.)

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