Honesty. I think that is the key. It is honorable to be honest and it is honorable to be a person of your word. This is a "family" value which many in positions of power seem to struggle with. CEOs of investment banks lying to the board or shareholders. Politicos lying about affairs. Husbands and wives lying to each other.
In our culture, while what Edwards is presumed to have done (what my father did) and what countless men and women do every day - cheat - is marginally acceptable. Acceptable in the finger pointing, vilifying way - but accepted and discussed in the public forums. I am sure their will be echoes of "that bastard - he cheated on his wife during her battle with cancer....." or the occasional "way to go John, she was hot..." or something in between.
When one holds or wishes to hold a position of power - the truth always seems to come out. From what I have read his wife, Elizabeth seemed to have known prior to the headlines on Friday. (Well that is small consolation - but at least she knew prior. It sounds like they have had some time to attempt to heal.)
I am sadden because his behavior is a betrayal of his covenant to his wife, it shows lack of judgment and character. That he out right lied about it is an issue for someone seeking public office. To be fair - I do not think he is a bad person because he has SEX with someone other than his wife - it is the deceit and the lying that I take issue with. How they choose to structure their relationship, rebuild or otherwise is a PRIVATE matter.
For me it is not that John had sex with someone else - it is that he lied to so many people (mainly his wife - but then to the American people) in the process. Sex is not love and love is not sex and SEX is really not the issue here - regardless of what so many people will think - the real issue is being honest.
Transparency is very important. I agree that candidates and public officials and even celebritants should be afforded some measure of privacy. That said though when one puts themselves in the public eye or is asking us to charge them with a very big duty - like becoming president - it is important that they be honest, trustworthy and honorable. Note I did not say perfect. Mistakes happen and there is always that chance for a lapse in judgment, but then that is when true strength and honor shine - when one takes responsibility for one's actions.