'Today': Edwards Denies Calling Hillary Dishonest -- But Sure Sounds Like It

With Hillary and Barack flailing away at each other, third-man-out John Edwards turned up on this morning's "Today." But while claiming he wanted to stay above the fray, he certainly came close to calling Hillary dishonest, all the while laughing off the notion that he might be.

Norah O'Donnell played a clip of Edwards saying: "We need a leader who will be open and honest with you, and with the American people. Who will tell the truth. Who will tell the truth when they've made a mistake."

Wow. John pulls off a reverse "open and honest" with a double-twisting "tell the truth." Wonder whom he might have had in mind?

When Meredith Vieira interviewed the ex-senator from North Carolina a moment later, she wasted no time in putting the question to him: "in addition to the comments we heard from you criticizing Senator Clinton for not taking responsibility for her vote authorizing the war, you also said yesterday 'we need a leader who is honest, open and decent.' Are you suggesting at all that Senator Clinton is not honest, open or decent?"

Edwards: "Oh no, nothing of the kind." Right.

View video here.

But when he went on to explain his remarks as standing for the proposition that "it's really important for the American people to be able to trust their president again," Vieira to her credit asked this question:

"But if Senator Clinton does not say that she made a mistake as you did with the vote, would that mean that mean that the people would not trust her as a leader?"

Edwards: "That question of what Senator Clinton or anyone else who voted for this war says about this vote is really between them and their own conscience. It's not for me to judge. I think all of us who are running for president are going to be judged not only based upon what we do, but also based on whether we take responsibility for what we've done."

I see. If Hillary can live with her conscience despite her failure to take responsibility for what she's done, you're not going to judge her. Got it. But just a bit later, Edwards couldn't resist taking another not-so-veiled shot at the honesty of you-know-who:

"Every single president running for president, whether they're a Democrat or a Republican is human. None of us is infallible. We all make mistakes. The real question is, if we make a mistake, do we have the good sense, and the judgment, and the honesty to admit it. And to acknowledge what's happened and to change course, and I think that's one of the bases on which Americans are going to judge who their next president should be. I think they want somebody who'll be straight with them."

But remember, Oh-No-Edwards isn't suggesting that Hillary isn't honest. "Nothing of the kind." Check.

Aside: The long grind that is a presidential campaign had clearly taken its toll on Edwards this morning. He appeared lethargic and his voice at times rasped badly.

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.