03/23/2007 10:49 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

For Edwards, the Personal Is Now Political

Nothing stays personal in politics, not marriage, not divorce, not your kid's drug problem, and not cancer, as presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, demonstrated yesterday when they held a press conference in the garden in North Carolina where they were married more than 30 years earlier.

This time they were there to announce they had just learned that Elizabeth had Stage 4 cancer, treatable but incurable.

As much as the illness is personal, the announcement was, by necessity, political. In my informal poll afterward of people generally sympathetic to the Edwards candidacy, I got two reactions in addition to complete sympathy for the family, which includes two young children.

The first is the Oprah reaction and had Elizabeth at its center: What a plucky, self-sacrificing, and cheerful approach to a personal blow. She did what so many who sit opposite Oprah in the afternoon do -- she picked herself up and moved on. Next week and next year, she said, ``I'll be doing all the things I did last week.''

Elizabeth's part of the conference was in keeping with the person who came through in the heartbreaking story at the center of her book ``Saving Graces,'' published last fall, of her first bout with tragedy, the 1996 death of her 16-year-old son, Wade, in a car accident.

Read the whole column here.