This is going to be an uncomfortable post, so let me start with some disclaimers:
1. I don’t think pundits have any business lecturing politicians about how to lead their private lives.
2. I don’t think anybody has any business lecturing anyone else on how to deal with a fatal disease.
3. I think Elizabeth and John Edwards are both displaying admirable fortitude in the face of horrible fortune.
4. I admire (what I know about) John Edwards. I think he’d be a strong candidate and a good President.
All of that said, Edwards’s decision to stay in the race for President strikes me as problematic.
The numbers on Stage IV breast cancer are brutal: it’s unlikely that Elizabeth Edwards would survive until the end of her husband’s first term. As the husband of a woman dying a painful death (the cancer has spread to bone, and bone pain can be horrible), as a grieving widower, and as a single parent of two young adolescents, he couldn’t give his job his undivided attention: unless he had a heart of stone, which he obviously doesn’t.
Whether running for President, or becoming President, would be good for John Edwards or his family is their business, and I don’t think anyone else should second-guess what is clearly a family choice. But whether he could do the job is our business. I think there’s room for doubt.