Speaking of smears, Mickey Kaus is still keeping hope alive that the Edwards-infidelity one is true. Mickey (fairly) mocks me for perhaps naively believing that Edwards just wouldn't do such a thing. But then he unfairly faults Edwards for issuing too vociferous a denial of the allegation. Mickey writes:

The National Enquirer says it has 1) highly suggestive but not-at-all-conclusive emails from a woman, let's call her W; 2) a source who says W did tell her conclusively in a phone call and talked openly of an affair. Edwards denies it. Fine--the denial wasn't too vague, as I'd thought when I read what turned out to be a partial quote. But if I were him, I'd stop there. Why add the "made up"? It runs the risk of angering either a) the Enquirer, making striking back a question of institutional pride; b) W; or c) the source. That's almost certainly not something Edwards would want even if his denial was completely truthful. (Who knows what further damage a) b) or c) could do--if only in terms of prolonging the story?) It's certainly not something Edwards wants if his denial was untruthful. Either way, the smart pol's course would seem to be to forcefully deny the accusation without cuteness or reservation--but also without personally attacking the accusers. It's a fine line! ...

This is absurd. First Mickey promotes a nasty tabloid rumor about Edwards's marriage that is particularly nasty given the fact that his wife has cancer. Then Mickey chooses to disbelieve Edwards's--and the alleged mistress's--on-the-record denials. Now Mickey says he doesn't necessarily disbelieve those denials, but he faults Edwards for being too forceful in his.

Why shouldn't Edwards be forceful? And why should he worry about "angering" the people who (assuming Edwards's denial is accurate) are peddling this really vicious untruth? If I made up an untrue and personally hurtful story about how Mickey was secretly on the payroll of the National Council of La Raza (since his anti-immigration arguments actually help the pro-amnesty side) and then shopped it to the National Enquirer (or, even worse from Mickey's perspective, Ezra Klein), I hope that Mickey would be mad enough at me that, in denying my story, he wouldn't worry about angering me in the process.

--Jason Zengerle