John Edwards Was Right...
There Are Two Americas
August 12, 2008
I feel sorry for John
Edwards. I know we all feel like enveloping his cancer-stricken wife
Elizabeth in a warm blanket of sympathy, now that her "devoted” husband
has been outed as not being so devoted after all. I feel empathy for the
hurt Mrs. Edwards must be experiencing. Yet, I feel a strange sense of
pity for her philandering husband.
But I’m not ready to
throw him a "pity party” because it is not only Elizabeth he
disappointed. He has also been unfaithful to "we the people.” At least
one strategist has already declared his affair a "private matter.” Not
really. When a politician flaunts his "family values” in our face and
wraps a run for the presidency around his "father of the year” image
(and award), then it becomes the business of those of us in the "other
America.” He brought us into the bedroom.
For all I know, Senator
Edwards could be humming a verse of "Don’t cry for me
America.” He’ll probably be given a sympathetic "mea culpa” interview,
with the silent approval of the "sainted” Elizabeth. He’ll bite his
lower lip at appropriate pauses in the conversation to indicate remorse.
In a step towards his rehabilitation, we will hear that he’s going to
work towards destroying the barriers between the haves and the
have-nots, whom he identified as "Two Americas.” The Habitat for
Humanity program is already taken, so could there soon be a Deconstruct
the Barriers Campaign – "destroy the barriers, resurrect the
reputation”? The inhabitants of the other America will forgive him,
right? Not so fast!
Why should "we the
people” be hurt and outraged by the story of yet another politician who
preaches one thing and does another? Why aren’t we ready to jump in that
"forgive and forget limo?” We are hurt and enraged because here is
example #999 of a politician who feels he is entitled to illicit affairs
of the heart (and the wallet) and has done nothing wrong...unless he is
We should be outraged
and hurt because the bar for politicians’ behavior, instead of being
raised, is being lowered. Their behavior becomes more and more
outrageous because they have callously calculated that we the people
have been "dumbed and numbed” to their excesses. They flaunt their
affairs and outrageous behavior in our faces, and we accept that they
are "just doing what politicians do,” to borrow a phrase from Reverend
But not all of us are
dumb or numb or buying what is being peddled. We want real reform. Sure
we know that many times "Joe six-pack” is out there cheating on his
wife, whether she is well or ill. But Joe six-pack is not running around
telling his neighbors how to run their lives, while indulging in a
clandestine affair. Joe is keeping a really low profile and hoping that
Mrs. Six-pack doesn’t find out!
Senator-cum-presidential-candidate John Edwards was out there
exemplifying one type of behavior and indulging in the exact opposite. I
may be old-fashioned, but what is moral for America’s regular folks
should also be moral for America’s elite!
We are hurt and
outraged because we are witnessing another episode of "Politicians Gone
Wild.” One literally did go wild recently when the Mayor of Detroit,
Kwame Kirkpatrick, allegedly "handled” two police deputies in a less
than gentle manner. Just recently, another politician, Governor Eliot
Spitzer of New York, was really into the "I don’t practice what I
preach” lifestyle. In his former role, Spitzer was prosecuting perps by
day and apparently "perping” after hours with a young lady who earned
her money on the night shift. Some $80,000 later, his double life, and
his career, came to an abrupt end.
Then there is former
Congresswoman Ms. Cynthia McKinney who allegedly used her purse to land
a thundering uppercut on a House police deputy when he dared ask for her
identification. And who can forget Senator Larry Craig, who pleaded
guilty to being in a public bathroom and using a "wide stance” to play
footsie with an undercover police officer? He must have thought he was
on a baseball diamond.
The most famous example
of politicians gone wild could be the self-described "first black
President” Bill Clinton. He was doing "laundry” in the Oval Office with
an intern. I am assuming that they were doing laundry because there was
talk of a stained blue dress. He at first tried to lie his way out of
this revelation, using his quivering lower lip defense. When that tactic
faltered, he taught the nation a lesson in semantics. We learned that
the word "is” doesn’t always mean "is.” Many bought it. Teachers are now
teaching kids that the word "is,” when used by everyone else, is
inflexible in its meaning, but has great flexibility when Bill Clinton
uses it. That contribution to the English language could be Bill
Clinton’s true legacy.
I know that there is at
least one nation "hurt” by the timing of Edwards’ mea culpa. The rulers
of China must be wishing that their security police could extend their
reach to Both Americas and teach John Edwards a lesson! How dare he use
this "anointed” day of 08-08-08 as the day to confess that he forgot,
for at least two months, that he had a 30-something-year marriage to his
wife? This was supposed to be the day when most of the world would be
focused on China, in all of its glory, showcasing that nation’s cocktail
of communism and capitalism.
Edwards almost spoiled that. His "serious error in judgment” succeeded
in throwing China out of the day’s news headlines, especially here in
America. China should not feel too put out. The thirst for another
politician’s screw up is even pushing the apparent "invasion” of Georgia
by Russia off the radar. Today, 08-08-08, has been a strange brew of
communism and copulation.
On the day that Senator
Edwards admitted, "I did have relations with that woman, but did not
father her child,” there was at least one positive story. Fox News
Channel showed a short interview with Keela Carr who walked 2,700 miles
across country, from California to Arlington, Virginia, to thank our
troops. She sold her belongings to finance her trip. She gave up her
stuff so that she could thank our troops for showing their
stuff...protecting us! My heart swelled with pride as I witnessed a
grateful citizen, who with self-sacrifice, fortitude, and gratitude,
counterbalanced the usual disdain shown towards our troops by too many
politicians "gone wild.”
But as uplifting as Ms.
Carr’s venture was, it did not distract me into allowing philandering
politicians with wandering eyes and pants on fire off the hook! I am
heartened that Senator Edwards used two words, "egocentric” and
"narcissistic,” to very precisely describe his behavior. He will find no
disagreement from me. As of this day, I want all politicians to begin to
adhere to the "Caesar’s wife” principle. They must not only be above
suspicion, but they must also appear to be above suspicion.
Leave the philandering,
lying, cheating, and all of the other vices and miscreant behavior to
those in "another America” – the America we hope constitutes a really,
really small minority. Cheating on the person to whom you promised to
"love, cherish and obey” is never acceptable, no matter which America
This nation has too
rich a tradition of "goodness” to tolerate such doltish behavior,
especially from those who seek to exalt themselves to leadership
positions. To quote a real leader, who goes by the name of Jesus: "Woe
to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Woe to you also, you lawyers!
For you load men with burdens too hard to bear, and you yourself do not
touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”
For at least this
day, one politician/lawyer/scribe/Pharisee is bearing, with both hands,
the burden (public exposure of his "private” sin), at the hands of The
National Enquirer. The rest of the media, strangely silent before today,
have now found their voice.