Friday, August 22, 2008

Jilted by John Edwards

I've been stewing about the John Edwards fiasco. Stewing, fuming, bitching. Many of you know I was an Edwards Girl. I fell for his shtick -- hook, line and sinker. And this blog may seem oddly timed, given the fact that the country seems to be on collective pins and needles waiting for news about Barack Obama's running mate. But really, it's those circumstances combined with the looming Denver convention that crystallized things for me. While I didn't really think Edwards was up for another VP dash, I did think he might have an opportunity to play a meaningful role in an Obama Administration. Yeah, not so much.

John Edwards has been revealed to be like so many other powerful men -- he couldn't or wouldn't keep it zipped when temptation crossed his path. Yeah, yeah, there are no choir boys in politics -- and there's clearly no shortage of powerful men of all political stripes who are congenitally unable to resist a pretty face.

As I've said before, it almost seems like some kind of rite of passage -- a macho power trip to prove to themselves they're such hot shit that the regular rules no longer apply. Edwards himself confirmed this hubris, saying part of the reason for his horrible, disappointing lapse was -- well, cuz he could. Because running for president put him on such a nifty ego trip, it warped his perspective. Wow. That's great. Wonderful. And he was a serious candidate for president? I feel betrayed, and I'm not even his wife.

It's amazing to me that Edwards apparently had not figured out the fundamental axiom of modern politics: once you run, you can't hide. Despite all the clear lessons that had come before him -- Edwards thought he was different, that he wouldn't get caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Hypocrites just plain piss me off. Especially self-righteous hypocrites. But with Edwards, it goes one step further -- I feel jilted.

Why, you might ask? It's not simply that I was an Edwards fan. Or that I have enormous respect for his wife, his terminally-ill wife, who sure as hell deserves better. It's that the real John Edwards has been at last been revealed -- and shown to be a man who didn't just cheat on his wife, but who also has proven himself more than willing to throw us all to the wolves.

Imagine this scenario if you will: say Edwards had won the nomination. Clearly he ran for the presidency again, knowing he had this kind of campaign-choking skeleton in his closet. Edwards didn't come clean to start his second campaign with a clean slate -- nope, he decided to hide his bad behavior and lack of judgement. And in making that conscious decision to keep living a lie rather than make his mea culpa, Edwards was willing to take a serious risk -- not just with his own political ambitions but with the future of the entire country -- on the fact that the emperor's new clothes would not be revealed until after he was in the White House. At that point, I guess he thought he would simply work to rehabilitate himself -- a la Bill Clinton.

What a breathtaking gamble. If Edwards had come out on top in this extraordinary primary year, and things had played out on the same timeline, Democrats would have had the earth fall from under their feet just a few weeks before their convention. Edwards was willing to risk four or even eight more years of Republican destruction in order to pursue his own single-minded goal.

The scope of his hubris is amazing. With all that was at stake -- with an economy on the brink, an ill-conceived war draining our coffers and our spirits, with decades of progress on civil and women's rights at risk, with an environment literally gasping for help -- Edwards was willing to sacrifice us all on the alter of his vanity. Aside from the clear moral deficiencies Edwards exhibited in terms of his personal relationships, it is this grand selfishness and lack of vision that I find most disappointing -- and most unsettling in someone I had wanted to see in the White House.

So as the excitment swirls around the Obama Veep-stakes, for me, there is definitely a bittersweet tinge of what might have been -- and what's been irrevocably lost in a man who used to be a hero to so many.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

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