JFK's son, considering his glamorous image and life-story, probably could have gone on to be a very successful, Obama-like political candidate for our side. And Eliot Spitzer certainly set an example of how a man in public service can take on the rich and fight big, immoral corporations who cheat on their taxes and are ungrateful for the fact that they get to be so big and rich because they got their start in our country. Certainly, if his marital infidelity hadn't been revealed, Eliot Spitzer could have been an almost Obama-like political figure and probably a Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate. And Bill Clinton would have been remembered better if the Republicans didn't spend millions of dollars of public money in a ridiculous, protracted investigation to publicly prove that he had an affair. And it can be argued that John Edwards' political career was over before any of the stories of Edwards' cheating came out, but one thing certainly wasn't over until then-- Elizabeth Edwards' ability to effectively fight for Obama to be elected President.
This is an angle to the whole cheating incident (and revelation) I didn't even think of until a little while ago. Since Obama asked Elizabeth Edwards to work on his healthcare policy for him, he de facto asked her to campaign for him. And there is a lot Elizabeth Edwards could have brought to the campaign. As a woman, she would have brought a demographic balance to the image of the campaign. As a brave person afflicted with a terminal illness, she was a more sympathetic figure than hard-nosed political battler Hillary Clinton (at least in terms of how a lot of the public has come to see Hillary). As a graceful person, she could have brought some of what Laura Bush brings to George W. Bush's public image, giving him a better association in the eyes of much of the public. And as the wife of John Edwards-- who before the stories of his cheating came out looked like a knight in shining armor-- she would have been a consolation-prize to many people who used to really like John Edwards, whether they ended up voting for him in the primary campaign in the end or not. But this was all before the revelations about the affair instantly turned her into a touchy figure to bring out in public, since she would remind people of what happened and lead a lot of people to associate Democratic politicians with marital infidelity as things get down to the wire in Barack's camapaign. If this hadn't happened, some public appearances and nice public speeches by Elizabeth Edwards could have consolidated a lot of Barack's support quite nicely.
As often is the end result when something horrible and unfortunate happens (and especially after the press gets to make a circus out of it), in the case of Elizabeth Edwards a Democrat's public misfortune has become a great political boon to the conservative Republicans.