Thursday, August 14, 2008

H Hall of Shame: John Edwards

By now, perhaps you've heard that former presidential contender John Edwards has admitted to having an affair and lying about it.

To begin, I'd just like to say that, in general, what people do with their personal lives isn't really my business. And, when allegations and evidence of adultery arise in public figures, I can't help feeling saddened for what the guy's family is going through. But at the same time, when politicians opportunistically put their marital status on display to create some sort of Family Man image in order to advance their political careers, their personal infidelities become fair game for public scrutiny.

See, when these Family Man narratives turn out to be fictional, we can't help feeling a bit played. I don't generally put much stock in politicians' descriptions of themselves. Politicians and their campaign teams create narratives that are necessarily self-promoting and self-interested. It's just the nature of politics. If I had my way, politicians wouldn't tout their Family Man cred at all on the campaign trail. I just don't think it's relevant to his or her position on health care, war, the economy or the myriad other actual important issues affecting our country. What's that you say, you're happily married and super-duper Christian? Neat-o. But how the fuck does that qualify you to address the fact that health care costs are unaffordable for many Americans?

Perhaps worse than those who use their Happily Married American Christian status for political gain are those who judge others for what they themselves do, have done, or will do when given the opportunity. See, when a man who happens to be a very public figure says something like what follows about another man's infidelity, he sure as shit better think hard before engaging in the same behavior himself. Read, John Edwards, speaking in 1999 of Bill Clinton:

"I think this President has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen."

Breathtaking isn't it?

You know, I expect the "family values" crowd to be full of Family Man hypocrites. Not many moral crusaders, after all, are able to live up to the lofty moral standards they set (for other people). That being said, I am always more disappointed when those on the more liberal end of the political spectrum play the Family Man card as though it's relevant to one's ability to run the country. Inevitably, it seems, this facade is revealed for the myth that it is.

Oh, another fun fact? Like so many other moral hypocrites and adulterers who are totally into The Sanctity of Marriage (tm), John Edwards opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage. Marriage is a sacred thing between a man and a woman. Clearly.

Can I tell you how glad I am that this man is not the Democratic presidential nominee?

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