Saturday, August 9

:: Say What?

Senator John Edwards has confirmed that he had an affair with a woman who had been a videographer for his campaign.  At first glance, the situation strikes me as sad, primarily for the Edwards family and their supporters, in a life-can-be-so-brutal kind of way.  Sigh.

However....  this side point seems worthy of further exploration:
The revelations came as pressure was building on Mr. Edwards to address the matter publicly, not only from the news media but also from the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois. The Democrats are holding their nominating convention in two weeks, and though defeated candidates usually have a speaking role, Edwards associates said the Obama campaign was wary of scheduling Mr. Edwards to speak while he was under a cloud. He said Friday that he would not attend the convention.
I'm certainly not going to take the NY Times' word for it, but if true it sounds pretty brutal.

I will say that I hope every one of those ignorant surrogates and commenters on various blogs who condemned Hillary for "standing by her man" and praised Elizabeth as "a better role model for women" or "the better feminist" take a deep look within at how stupid they are. 


RS said...

I think Edwards could still have a starring role at the Convention. After all, he isn't a serial philanderer (otherwise the Enquirer would have said so!) And he didn't dally with a 22-year-old, highly impressionable intern. But someone who fits those two criteria, does. Or maybe because those events happened in the '90s, they no longer count?

As for Elizabeth Edwards - I didn't much like the NC duo, as I felt John acted as goody-two-shoes, but Elizabeth launched required attacks. Since she has cancer, no one would criticize her... Still, about "standing by my man" - fool me once, shame on you; fool me dozens of times... That'd be the difference.

[Till more Enquirer revelations come out, of course.]

Nina Miller said...

Um, Bill Clinton was president, twice; he gets to speak at the Convention. And your guy worships JFK, serial philanderer... but I guess since those events happened in the 60's, they don't count? ;-)

I don't think there's a chance Edwards will speak at the convention. IF the Times is to be believed (a big IF) Obama and other Dems outed him because they didn't want him to speak. I guess this story has been common knowledge for months but until now there was a gentleman's agreement to not mention it (otherwise known as "keeping your powder dry").

Then again, some Dems seemed shocked and furious - like David Bonior. They feel that he shouldn't have run knowing he had this liability. Its a "my God, what if he had won the nomination" kind of thing. I don't think he ever could have won, but I can see their point, sort of - it was irresponsible of him to take up people's time and resources. A lot of people committed to him (consulting firms, individual staffers, pols who were honorary chairs) when they could have been working for someone else - and now, instead of feeling like they fought the good fight, they feel like Edwards wasted their time. If I were one of them I'd be upset.

Kirsten said...

It's true that the '60s were a different time -- the press didn't take such salacious pleasure at revealing politicians' affairs -- and what's more, JFK died with those affairs still somewhat on the DL. It's hard to play "gotcha" with a dead hero.

But I've been thinking this week about how the Dems are so easily tumbled when their sexual peccadilloes are caught out, while Republicans have created a whole movement out of moral superiority, simply ignoring questions about their kind of trashy relationship actions. McCain's suggestion that his wife take her clothes off for 20,000 bikers is just one example. Gingrich dumping his wife while she was undergoing cancer treatment? Giuliani having an publicly-known affair dumping his wife on the evening news? While he was mayor??

What is it about Republicans that allows them to plow forth with their conservative moral agenda, simply stepping over or around these inconvenient truths?

Nina Miller said...

Well, Limpy, I think the Republicans are better known for their moral turpitude than the Dems - so many of them have fallen (just off the top of my head: Larry Craig, the guy from Florida with the house pages thing, Bob Packwood, Vito Fossella, Bill Paxon, Bob Livingston, Jim Ryan; you could maybe put Strom Thurmond in this category too.) There are fewer Dems.. Edwards, Spitzer, McGreevey, Bill, and the Kennedy dynasty, I can't think of any others.

If there's any group of people who have distinguished themselves for having an absence of character and a tendency towards scandal, its neither the GOP nor the Dems - its the Kennedys. Ted - Chappaquidick - unforgivable. And then there's Patrick, such a loser. He's pissing in potted plants at the airport, crashing his car while hooked on oxycontin, etc., yet he's still in the House, is talking about running for his uncle's Senate seat.... and the only reason he's in office to begin with is because he's part of the dynasty.

in my new, post-primary scales-have-fallen-from-my-eyes mode, I don't think what McCain did was quite that. I think he was just making one of the stupid comments candidates make in their speeches, like "I'm so glad to be in Wisconsin; I just had lunch with Julia and Sam at the Lunch Box..." I'm inclined to believe "Miss Cow Patty Contest" was inserted into his remarks by staff who were pretty clueless, and he said it because he was referencing Cindy who was standing very near him on stage - like, hey, my Cindy is pretty enough to be in your pageant, isn't she ? (applause)

I seriously, seriously doubt that text would be in his speech if they knew Miss Cow Patty was a lady biker contest in which things got raunchy.

I'm inclined to think this is our people (broadly defined) taking the comments out of context and adding a layer of intent that they have no way of verifying. Just like the GOP does to our guys.

ladybec said...

So these aren't direct responses to the comments, but just a couple of things I've been thinking about in relation to this whole situation:

1) Do you think Bill Clinton could have gotten through a presidential campaign in the current media environment (i.e., the internet as such a huge factor in digging up dirt and multiple 24-hour cable news channels with way too much time to fill)? I'm just thinking that 1991-92 was such a different time compared to now, and I don't know that someone with his history would ever have been able to make it to the White House in this environment. I always thought that Bill was caught in the moment when the social mores changed, when all of a sudden the fact that being a powerful man meant having access to women in this way that had previously been unquestioned began to be questioned and, in fact, denounced. Add that to a media environment that is now all over people 24-7, and I think it's clear that he is likely to be the last president/presidential candidate who was going to be able to get away with that behavior (not that other men aren't going to keep trying, though, apparently). I'm just curious if anyone else thinks that, but that's how I'm seeing it these days.

2) I somewhat appreciated the fact that John Edwards didn't drag out Elizabeth as a prop for the interview and said that it was his choice because he hates those interviews where the wife has to go through the ritual of sitting by her husband while he confesses. However, I do wonder if it was really his choice or if she said wouldn't do it (which may be what I secretly hope). It did make me realize, though, how completely unusual it is to see those interviews without the "loyal wife" there.

Did anyone else see the actual interview? It was one of those times when I realized it was worthwhile to watch the actual thing than just read about it.

Nina Miller said...

I didn't watch the interview... I'm just not that interested in his personal story. i just feel like... well, like it just doesn't have anything to do with me. I didn't think he was an effective leader before, so its no big loss; but i never thought he was a bad guy, so there's no schadenfreude.

Elizabeth, unfortunately, is not in a position analogous to other political wives who wake up one day to find they're caught in the propellor. She knew about this situation for a while - months, I think. Which means she was lying right along with him to their supporters. I'll have to check again to find out when she knew - if it was after he dropped out, that's one thing, but if she knew before, that is really bad. Not as bad as he who done it, but it would mean that she lied to a lot of people, face to face (staff, donors). But you know, she's dying, the whole thing was awful, its terrible enough already, so why make hash out of it?

I don't know if things would have been so different if Bill ran now. The Jennifer Flowers thing was national news; I don't think anybody *didn't* hear about it then because there was no intertubes. And Bill handled it on national television. The other stuff - Paula Jones, for example, there really wasn't a lot of "there" there.

I think the climate changed *because* of Bill, because the wingers made it such a big deal. If you think back, a lot of people knew about Bush pere's girlfriend. Dole's secret was kept, even through 1996. JFK - he was right out in the open, practically, i mean the Happy Birthday Mr. President thing with Monroe was practically shoving Jackie's face in it. And people seem to think Charlie Wilson's behavior was a grand laugh, despite his drunk driving and so on. Patrick Kennedy is still in office. So there are a lot of people out there right now who wagged their finger at Bill but still hold others who did the same thing in high esteem. There are a lot of hypocrites.

One of the things that has been so infuriating about the Obamakids is the way they've parroted the right wing in acting like there is something extraordinarily immoral about Clinton. As we all know, those of us who can think, anyway, there was nothing extraordinary about it. What he did was par for the course. Not right, not okay, but it didn't make him any more immoral than their beloved JFK, or MLK, or dozens of others.

And so we see that the facts don't matter; its how they use the facts that count. It was very important for the GOP, and then Obama, to delegitimize everything Clinton did - so the cheating mattered. Its very important to everyone that MLK isn't delegitimized - so the cheating doesn't matter, and is, in fact, almost never talked about.

RS said...

My problem with Bill Clinton might well be that he exploited a 22-year-old. If any other powerful, much older man had an affair with a much younger intern, I am pretty sure feminists would be all over him yelling sexual harassment. But I don't see any such movement against Bill Clinton, and heck, there you go equating him to JFK. Marilyn Monroe was pretty much an equal to JFK - just as much an icon, not much younger, and definitely not in his employ.

I don't see what Bill Clinton did that has him lionized to many Democrats. Don't ask, don't tell; DOMA; welfare reform; NAFTA. Stuff that is anathema to core Democratic constituencies. The Republican Congress didn't let him spend too much, and so he was able to produce balanced budgets, and eventually surpluses (thanks to Bill - Gates). I can see where some people might think Bill Clinton sold out the Democratic Party to further his own power and legacy.

The most I remember Bill Clinton for is (a) trying to avoid getting caught using f-ing legalities and (b) lying when caught (apart from Monica Lewinsky). What the definition of "is" is? Give me a break!

Of course, Hillary Clinton has her own problems with the truth (Bosnia, NAFTA...). And despite what she must have known about all of Bill's peccadilloes, out she came blaming it all on a "vast right-wing conspiracy"! If she really didn't know about his affairs, she must be dumb. And if she did, she is no different from Elizabeth Edwards in promoting and protecting her husband despite having knowledge otherwise. Yes, I saw your later post on EE.