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The Edwards Family Decision

I was saddened to hear about the
return of Elizabeth Edwards' cancer. I hope that her cancer is
treatable and that she enjoys many more years and lives to see her
young children grow up. This is now more possible than ever given the
improvements in treatment for stage IV breast cancer.

I commend
her strength and composure during this difficult time, and do not
question the sincerity of her and John's decision to stay in the race,
but I do question as a parent whether this is the right call. Running
for president, let along being president, is the ultimate all-consuming
job of endless travel, speeches, dinners, events, and rallies. Were he
the winner of the campaign he has just begun, he wouldn't be sworn into
office for 22 months, and it would be nearly six years from now before
he finishes his first term. I certainly hope that Mrs. Edwards will
live that long, and many years beyond. Yet they face a statistically
harsher reality than most parents of two young children that this may
not be the case.

Is this really the best choice for a father, to
go all out to pursue a career, while his wife faces a serious illness
and he has two young children at home? It's not as though there is a
shortage of suitable candidates willing to step up to the plate to run
for the Democratic nomination. Certainly a person with his resources,
experience, and credentials has many options to pursue meaningful work
and contribute to society short of running for president; options that
would provide him much more time to be with his wife and children.

I applaud their strength, fortitude, and willingness to persevere
through such difficulties, I question whether this is the time to
pursue one's ultimate career ambitions, or rather let those take a back
seat to priorities with his family. He could learn from the many women
(and men) who have found creative ways to downshift their careers at
times when they have greater needs at home. This does not mean
abandoning a career, just adjusting to the circumstances of life. When
his children are older, he can pursue this dream again. Life does not
have to be a constant upward career trajectory - sometimes there are
things that are even more important than being president.


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