Monday, August 11, 2008

The Edwards Affair

Now that some of the initial media buzz over former Senator John Edwards extramarital affair has gone by, I'll play the pundit and give my analysis of the situation. The "what ifs" and repercussions of this are interesting to ponder. I will preface this with the fact that I was a John Edwards supporter, and was quite dismayed when he withdrew his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.

I am amazed that Edwards has the gall to say it was his own feeling of self-importance and narcissism that let him to think that the affair would not be discovered, and that he could do anything he wanted. Really? A man as intelligent as John Edwards saw how Bill Clinton's dalliances dogged him throughout his years in office, but didn't think it would happen to him? Did he really not have an example of what could happen? Did he really think you can run for President and this kind of thing remain under wraps? Did he not see the crash and burn of Gary Hart's candidacy because of a photo of him and a young girl on the aptly-named boat, Monkey Business?

Also, he claims to have told his wife, Elizabeth, about this shortly after it happened two years ago. Would she have not counseled him to not embark on a run for The White House? Somehow, I get the feeling that she didn't really know until recently either, despite the public claims otherwise.

I also don't get why it matters if his mistress' daughter was fathered by Edwards. He is denying it, but so what. He has admitted to the sex, what does it matter if she got pregnant. Plus, if the girl isn't the offspring of the former senator, and if the affair was 2 years ago, why in the world did he visit her and the child in Beverly Hills 3 weeks ago? Did Elizabeth know of this visit in advance?

I don't believe any of this negates the message of Edwards campaign. A flawed messenger doesn't cancel the attributes of the message. The message is one that needed, and still needs, a voice. The problem is that John Edwards, despite his charm and winning smile, was not the right messenger. What a dilema for the Democrats had he actually won enough delegates to be the nominee.

I don't believe that any of this would have made Edwards a less qualified President. It would have made him less effective, as the nation would once again be distracted by the sexual activities of it's chief executive. The fact is that as thoughtful and rational as human beings can be at times, we are also consigned to live out our existences in bodies shaped by evolution to be largely driven by our libidos. That fact will never change. I am liberal and open minded about whatever personal arrangements people may have, but the fact is that most people in America have a vicarious fascination with sex. They love a scandal.

Power is intoxicating, and as Edwards has proven once again, once you believe you are living on a plane where the rules don't apply to you, a downfall is sure to follow.