Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Maybe I Was Wrong

Friday morning, on the radio show that I co-host, I shared the opinion that John Edwards should have pulled out of the 2008 presidential race after learning that his wife's cancer had returned. Take care of her now and run later, I said. He's still a young man at 53, and he's not even leading in the Democratic polls this time around.

My opinion was based on life experience. Five years ago, a co-worker's wife was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in her spine, after she'd been treated for breast cancer a few years earlier. She died about 18 months later.

But after getting more information about the Edwards' decision, I am less judgemental. Oh, I'm still concerned about the younger Edwards children. But after watching the "60 Minutes" interview, I like the spin the John and Elizabeth are taking. It's an "embrace life" attitude, and it's inspiring. Thousands of cancer survivors are resonating with Elizabeth's position. One fact that swayed my opinion is that people are living longer with incurable cancer.

Will sympathy help the Edwards campaign? It may be soon to tell. As a soundbite coach, I applaud John's statement to Katie Couric: "There's not a single person in America that should vote for me because Elizabeth has cancer. Not a one. If you're considering doing it, don't do it. Do not vote for us because you feel some sympathy or compassion for us. That would be an enormous mistake. The vote for the presidency is far too important for any of those things to influence it."

One pundit says this experience will help John Edwards humanize his campaign. For instance, when Edwards talks about healthcare, voters will know he's experienced the system.

Another plus of this announcement has been all the nice things the other candidates have said. They're wishing Elizabeth well. Even Tony Snow, the White House spokesperson, whose cancer has returned, said Mrs. Edwards is setting a wonderful example of how to live with cancer.

My mind is not made up on this issue. I still think if I had the diagnosis Elizabeth does, I'd want to spend my last days laughing on a beach, not working for votes, traveling in a bus.

Even Katie Couric said that's not how she'd choose to spend her finite time.

And John reminded her that we're all different and none of us is promised any time... as he found out when his 16-year-old son died.

Here's what my mind is made up on... if I were his media coach, I'd be proud of John Edwards.

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