John and Elizabeth Edwards appeared together on 60 Minutes last night. In case you missed it here are some highlights along with my comments. My comments are marked by the (). A link to the full interview transcript can be found after my remarks.

Katie Couric:
Have you found that people are relating to you a bit differently with this news?

Elizabeth Edwards:
Well, I mean, I had somebody… hug me… in the last hour with a tear going down the side of her face. And I’m actually hoping that’s one of the things that this discussion will fix. That people will see that that you’re not necessarily dying of cancer but you can also live with cancer and that, and you can live a full life. Concentrate on the things that matter to you. We’re all going to die. And I pretty much know what I’m going to die of now. But I, I do want to live as full and normal a life as I can from this point on.

(In all the media stories about this interview no one has brought up this quote, but it is the answer to this question which not only explains the reason for the 60 Minutes interview, but also why it is important for John Edwards to stay in the 2008 presidential campaign. Just because a person is diagnosed with cancer, this doesn’t mean that they have to stop living and start dying. This seems to the real message that Elizabeth Edwards is trying to get out).

Katie Couric:
Your decision to stay in this race has been analyzed, and quite frankly judged by a lot of people. And some say, what you’re doing is courageous, others say it’s callous. Some say, “Isn’t it wonderful they care for something greater than themselves?” And others say, “It’s a case of insatiable ambition.” You say?

John Edwards:
I say all of those judgments and questions are entirely legitimate. I mean, you offer yourself up for service to the country as the President of the United States, you deserve to be evaluated. I am perfectly open to that evaluation. I think that I know, when I’m running for president, I’m running for president because I want to serve this country, and because I want all people in America to have the same kind of chances that I’ve had.
I’ve come from nothing to now have everything. And I think everybody in this country, no matter who their family is, or what the color of their skin, ought to get that chance. But, throughout this process, people will be able to see very clearly into what we do, what we say, how we behave, and they can evaluate for themselves whether they think I’m, in fact, doing this for the right reason. We know the truth. We know the truth, but I think it’s a fair judgment for Americans to make.

(This is also an overlooked part of the interview. It is refreshing to hear somebody running for high office to actually sound like a person and not pre-programmed sound byte machine. John Edwards is basically saying, this is the decision that we made, and you are entitled to your own opinion, on what you would do in the same situation, or if you think we are right or wrong. I feel that unless you have been in another’s shoes, it is impossible to evaluate whether a huge decision like this is right or wrong).

Katie Couric:
….Some have suggested that you’re capitalizing on this.

John Edwards:
Here’s what I would say about that. First of all, 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. But, I think every single candidate for president, Republican and Democratic have lives, personal lives that indicate something about what kind of human being they are. And I think it is a fair evaluation for America to engage in to look at what kind of human beings each of us are, and what kind of president we’d make.

(John Edwards is saying character matters, but don’t get blinded by sympathy into casting a vote for someone whom you would not have normally supported. I feel that Edwards offered some very sound advice here. This is a personal family decision, and I think that the other candidates in both parties are doing the correct thing by not falling into the media laid trap of questioning the Edwards’ decision. I admire Elizabeth Edwards’s courage, in the face of an incurable disease. When compared to some of the other candidates in both parties, in my opinion, the Edwards family is one that America can be proud of. Politicians always talk about family values, but in this case we are seeing a family’s personal values in action. They are not only talking the talk, but walking the walk too.)

A transcript of the interview can be found right here.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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