The late Thomas ( Tip ) O'Neill said, " All politics is local. " And there's nothing more local than family.
John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, shared the bad news with us this morning. Elizabeth's cancer is back, and has spread to the bone. It didn't take the reporters long to get to the point of the press conference, which wasn't, for them at least, about cancer. It was about that other C Word: Campaigning.
Will you go on? That was the question asked more quickly than it should have been.
Edward's answer was " Yes. " The campaign will go on. We're not going to be " cowering " in some corner Edwards said. Edwards didn't speak for Elizabeth. She spoke for herself. And, as always, did it with dignity.
There was some speculation that Edwards might put his campaign on hold, or drop out of the race. Edwards and his wife said they talked about that and came to the same conclusion.
Edwards and his wife have, at least the way I see it, risen above the muddy field on which national politics is played. They rose to a new level today.
This is a crisis they're facing. Another one. They lost a 16 year old son. This is their second battle with cancer. How will one handle him or herself in a crisis? That's a question many of us ask when we wonder what it would be like to have this one or that one be our Commander in Chief. Some candidates have faced a few tests. Some have not.
The Edwards family? They've been there. And they're back there again.
I kept thinking about that as I watched John and Elizabeth Edwards this morning. And I thought of the irony - How this bad news could, in the bizarre world of presidential politics, be good news for the Edwards campaign.
Family values will probably play a big role. Rudy's issues. Newt's issues. Hillary's husband...
They're all running for that big national office. But as Tip said time and time again:
All politics is local. And as Tolstoy wrote: " all happy families are alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. "