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Elizabeth Edwards, 1949-2010

Elizabeth Edwards was a political spouse for the 21st Century -- smarter and maybe more driven than than her eventual cad of a husband, facile in the ways of the Internet, a Facebook friend to thousands of admirers but truly known by few if any. She was, quite simply, one of the most compelling figures on the American political stage, and no one was ready for her to exit stage left, But when it was announced yesterday that she had weeks to live, one feared that meant hours. She died today.

Jonathan Alter, a cancer survivor who came to know Edwards, wrote a eulogy that was everything she would have wanted, both touching and brutally candid:

Americans love nothing more than to build up their politicians and other celebrities before ripping them to pieces. And so it bears repeating that these people are people, too. The culture kicked Elizabeth Edwards when she was already down. Now everyone is sad and sorry but it's too late.