On New Year’s Day in Ames, Iowa, we watched as John Edwards urged a cheering crowd to join his campaign for the presidency.

On that day, I mentioned: “His wife, Elizabeth, who is being treated for incurable breast cancer, also spoke and sat on the dais behind her husband. She was surrounded by admirers when the program concluded.”

Seven months later, we now know that Edwards was living with a lie. While his wife was dealing with cancer, he had an affair with a videographer hired to record the candidate’s private moments.

When public figures embarrass themselves, there is always the rhetorical question: What was he thinking? Insert your own answer here. In a TV interview, Edwards told the public what it already knew: His selfishness was to blame.

Meanwhile, people may also ask: What was he thinking when he was barnstorming around the country, urging voters to volunteer their time, money and ideals on his behalf? What did he think would happen to his campaign when his infidelity was disclosed? Imagine the political firestorm that would be playing out this week if the disclosure came as Edwards was on his way to claiming the nomination at the Democratic convention in Denver.