John Edwards found an enthusiastic following for his 2008 presidential bid, espousing a populist call for economic justice and the restoration of “America’s moral leadership.” To loyalists, it was more than political argot; Edwards campaigned at great personal sacrifice, traveling the country while his wife battled cancer. But scoops by a supermarket tabloid contrasted his high-mind rhetoric with base private behavior. Late in 2007, the National Enquirer reported Edwards was having an affair with Rielle Hunter, a former campaign worker, who was then pregnant. Sources told us Edwards was the father of the baby. Confronted with the report, Edwards lied, emphatically. He called the story “lies” and “tabloid trash.” He then engineered a cover-up that was Nixonian in its cynicism, convincing an aide to publicly claim paternity of the baby. (Now shopping a book, the aide says he lied at Edwards’s request.) Six months later, the Enquirer caught Edwards in a Los Angeles-area hotel visiting Hunter and the baby. Up to that point, political insiders said Edwards was a shoe-in for a key position, likely attorney general, in the new administration. America does not expect its politicians to lead ascetic existences (see Bill Clinton, election of). But Edwards’s actions were part of a power-grabbing gambit that left no doubt his personal ambitions far outweighed the needs of a nation desperate for a new dynamic. America has judged him on his transgressions, banishing him from a significant role in politics and serving notice to other politicians that character counts. Call it definitive proof that investigative journalism still matters, no matter what you think of where it originated.