A 9.20 N.Y. Times story by Neil Lewis reports that former Senator John Edwards, facing a federal grand jury probe about possible illegal use of campaign donations funnelled to Reille Hunter in order to keep his affair with her secret, is “moving toward an abrupt reversal [by] declaring that he’s the father of Hunter’s 19-month-old daughter, something that he once flatly asserted in a television interview was not possible.”

What a detestable scumbug, at long last suffering his just desserts. Lewis’s story is highly pleasurable in its assessment of Edwards’ downfall. The best part of the story focuses on “the account of Andrew Young, once a close aide to Mr. Edwards, who had signed an affidavit asserting that he was the father of Ms. Hunter’s child.

“Mr. Young, who has since renounced that statement, has told publishers in a book proposal that Mr. Edwards knew all along that he was the child’s father. He said Mr. Edwards pleaded with him to accept responsibility falsely, saying that would reduce the story to one of a political aide’s infidelity.

“In the proposal, which The New York Times examined, Mr. Young asserts that he assisted the affair by setting up private meetings between Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter. He wrote that Mr. Edwards once calmed an anxious Ms. Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band.

“Once the favorite son of much of North Carolina with many supporters beyond, John Edwards is now largely disdained. To many, it was not only his liaison with Ms. Hunter, but also what seemed his elaborate effort to cover up his behavior to preserve his political ambitions.

“Friends and other associates of Mr. Edwards and his wife of 32 years, Elizabeth, say she has resisted the idea of her husband’s claiming paternity. Mrs. Edwards, who is battling cancer, ‘has yet to be brought around,’ said one family friend, who like others spoke about the situation on the condition of anonymity, pointing to the complicated and delicate nature of the issue.

“The situation may become more fraught, as people who know Ms. Hunter said she was planning to move with her daughter, Frances, from New Jersey to North Carolina in coming months.

“For her grand jury appearance on 8.6, Ms. Hunter took her daughter to the federal courthouse in downtown Raleigh. As she walked in, she seemed to turn the girl’s face toward the local television cameras.

“Ms. Hunter testified to the grand jury in detail about her relationship with Mr. Edwards, lawyers involved in the case said, as well as the benefits she was provided by his supporters after she became pregnant. Michael Crichtley, her lawyer, declined to comment.”