Gail Huff of WCVB-TV reports that Elizabeth Edwards is in Cambridge visiting with her daughter, a first year student at Harvard Law School. With her announcement yesterday of a return of cancer, I just can’t help but think about what difference four days makes.
On Monday, I was at the Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics. Members of Edwards’ campaign Nick Baldick, Jonathan Prince, Jennifer Palmieri were on hand for conference hosted by Mark Halperin of ABC News. While the formal discussions were strictly off-the-record, I can say that this team of youngish professionals impressed me. They were smart, sometimes irreverant, refreshing and willing to let the Hillary people go at it with Barack Obama’s as evidenced by Prince’s pushing his seat away from the fray in the public debate between the other two campaigns over the war. I came away from the event thinking more highly of the Edwards, of whom I have been critical.
One thing I am all but sure of is that none of these folks were ready for a major blow to the campaign in the form of illness to a principal in one of the campaign teams. Among the most difficult stories for any staffer to deal are those that touch the candidate or elected official personally. Because at that point, it’s not just a story, it’s somebody’s life. Given the zeal to be first on a story and get it right, reporters can sometimes lose sight of the real-life issues at stake.
Finally, the story of Elizabeth Edwards, whom I found to be a charming advocate for her husband, suggests something else. People in politics and the media like to think we know everything. Pundits make pronouncements about what will happen three months, six months down the line. But in the real world, nobody knows anything. Right now, the domestic situation, Iraq, the Middle East look like they’ll be one way; six months later everything’s different. Remember, for example, how in 2000, the big political story was Hillary Clinton’s senate campaign against Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani was diagnosed with prostate cancer and never got to face Hillary. This meant that Giuliani was in place as New York Mayor when the September 11th attacks took place. And, now there’s a possiblity they may face each other once again. Once again, nobody knows anything.
Our prayers are with the Edwards Family.