Saturday, August 09, 2008

Rant: Flawed Vessels

So I have to deal with the fact that a public figure that I've admired has proved to be guilty of the sins that flesh is err to. Oddly enough, I'm not talking about Brett Favre.

My own political history with John Edwards has been played out with this blog. I wasn't a supporter originally, but when I found myself in his camp, found I like a lot of his policies and thought he could do the job. Indeed, as an Edwards supporter I got to engage in my own smugness when the top two Democratic candidates were pummeling each other - the dog I backed had already retired from the field with honor. Still, I am disappointed by the news that he had an affair, which he confirmed it on Friday.

Now, you'd think after the relentless bombardment of inappropriate behavior from the conservative side over the past six years, I would immune to this type of thing. Truth of the matter is, I find myself drifting more and more to a zero-tolerance position on the fine art of stepping out on your spouse. And if you're playing the "good-husband/family man card", you are putting your personal behavior on the table, so you really should live up to the talk.

More to the poinit, such activities underscore a basic error in judgment, considering, you know, that we're dealing with a figure with a published schedule and who is surrounded by the media. And while the political press is not adversarial (a rant for another day), it is opportunistic. It will likely pop up that those covering the campaign were aware of the affair (the young woman was videographer and working alongside them), but that no one was sure lacking positive proof (like, the candidate confessing - and if you're asking, no, you don't get points for being brave and honest on the television, you get points for not having the affair in the first place).

In short, the media close to the candidate was covering for him, as has happened with a number of "open secrets" about the private lives of public individuals. But once the cat is let out of the bag, everyone has to get into the big story. The information was released on a Friday afternoon, the day the Olympics began, when the Russians invaded a neighboring country. But Russia is far away and China gets its feathers ruffled if you talk about the weather, while Obama is on a vacation and McCain is reducing his press time. And most of all, this is a Democratic Sex Scandal, which the media KNOWS how to handle.

And yeah, there's a feeling of "Judge not, lest ye be judged" in looking at this, though if the Book of Matthew isn't your style, there's the basic Karmic justice that occurs when you declaim inappropriate activity on a Monday and by Wednesday the photos of your time as manager of the Suicide Girls Lacrosse Club show up on the Internet. But there has been a lot of judgment going on, and I don't feel like equivocating if this is better or worse than Alaskan corruption or Congressional shenanigans or Vice-presidential misadventures. If it is bad behavior from a conservative, it is bad behavior from a progressive.

Then there is the "flawed vessel" argument - just because the man is wrong, doesn't mean the ideas he exposes are wrong. That is true, but we have seen a plethora of leaky terracotta over the past decade, and but it doesn't make it any easier. Yeah, we DO expect our leaders to hold themselves to a higher standard - that's why they are leaders. Call it the Captain America school of political values, and it applies to all parties.

I like what Edwards was fighting for, and while I think his national career is done, he probably will continue to serve his state. In his apology, he stated "Feel free to beat me up", and there will be no shortage of that in the coming days, as this story continues (yeah, continues) to unspool. The irony is, Edwards aspired to the highest office of the land, and for the next week or so, will get all the scrutiny and judgment that comes with the office.

OK, sermon over. Back to the Voter's Guide. More later,

Update Admit it, you would click on a link titled Suicide Girls Lacrosse Club.