In his new memoir, “No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner,” Shrum recalls asking Edwards at the outset of that campaign, “What is your position, Mr. Edwards, on gay rights?”
“I’m not comfortable around those people,” Edwards replied, according to Shrum. He writes that the candidate’s wife, Elizabeth, told him: “John, you know that’s wrong.”
Ugh. Now, there are two big caveats here. First, this is relayed by Bob Shrum, between whom and Edwards there is apparently no love lost these days. Second, this comment dates from 1998.
All of that said, the silence from the Edwards camp has been nearly deafening. Here’s the best they could do:
Edwards’s pollster, Harrison Hickman, who was in the room during the discussion, says Shrum “is sensationalizing and taking out of context what was an honest discussion about [Edwards’s] lack of exposure to these issues and openly gay people. I don’t remember anything that expressed any kind of venom or judgment about gay people.”
Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz says Shrum “has a very casual relationship with the truth. Bob is obviously more interested in selling books than reporting honestly and accurately about what happened.”
Fine, fine. Shoot the messenger all you want. But there’s no denial that Edwards actually said what Shrum says he said, or that Elizabeth chastised him for it. Perhaps more importantly, there’s no acknowledgement that over nine years Edwards has learned a lot, and that Edwards now has a more grown-up view of the issue, or something to that effect.
On other issues, Edwards has had no trouble apologizing for past mistakes. He should apologize for this comment too. I want to like Edwards, but stories like this tend to reinforce my nervousness about him.