Sex Scandals and Representation

Over at Post Partisan, I have a post on Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and representation; in particular, about the nature of “promises.” I’m arguing that the reason (former) supporters are so bitter about Edwards but not about Clinton is because the Edwards family was really central to his 2008 campaign, and so lying about the nature of the family meant breaking a promise that was central to his relationship with his supporters.

I think it’s a good piece. As longtime readers know, representation is one of my big interests, but I haven’t written about it for awhile. The way this one happened is that Ryan Lizza tweeted a comment about the different reactions to their seemingly similar transgressions, and I answered “Representation. Edwards broke an implicit promise to supporters; Clinton was semi-honest from the beginning”, and he said “???.” At which point I realized that I really needed to explain it, and it was going to take a lot more than 140 characters. So there you are.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.