Putting the Edwards Affair in Perspective

Like most people, John Edwards's affair doesn't thrill me. It's not the decision I would have personally had him make. That being said, I fail to see what this has to do with politics, except as a supposed misstep in political strategy, which is all the media seems to care about these days. Not important issues such as Iraq/Afghanistan and the economy. Not direct political wrong-doings of BushCo. No. Day after day we're subjected to fluff pieces, who 'looks' more Presidential (sorry, Hilary, you never had a chance there), and media generated political implications of peoples' person problems, like having affairs...something many Americans do themselves but like to act appalled when a public figure does it.

Crooks and Liars points out that before the media threw every other piece of news out the window for the Edwards 'story' (I was shocked last evening to understand that Russia invaded Georgia and I could find nothing on the 24 news channels about it...maybe 10 seconds amidst hour of important Edwards Affair-Gate coverage), we were loosely following an incredibly important story about forged White House documents building a case for the war in Iraq. Hmm. Somehow the media thinks where Edwards puts it is more vital to us.

From CnL:

Yes, John Edwards had an affair that was handled privately and the Edwards story is big news. It will get the Anna Nicole Smith/Brett Favre treatment for a while now. Elizabeth Edwards responds here.

From the email inbox:

David Gregory just said young people were inspired by him and are let down…and questioned whether it will have “broader implications for the party.” during the election. This week, Ron Suskind’s book revealed the Bush team knew Iraq didn’t have WMD, forged letters, paid hush money, and lied us into war. (Chirp, chirp…) Any broader implications for the Republican party there? How about instead of us buying into all the clamoring to analyze Edwards betrayal (wait, no, BETRAYAL!) we analyze the absurdity of a media culture where THIS is what passes for holding politicians accountable.

Broader implication for the party. OK, let’s talk party.

McClellan said that FOX News got talking points from the White House

Bush authorized rendition.

Bush authorized torture. Yes, that means waterboarding.

Bush authorized a war based on lies resulting in millions of innocent Iraqi and Afghani civilian deaths as well as an ethnic cleansing.

Thousands of our troops have been killed or seriously injured.

(Read the rest here...links on blog)

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Comment by Dawn K on August 9, 2008 at 4:08pm
I don't think that lying to a spouse is necessarily indicative of a persons ability to lead. I wish politicians never lied, but they are human just like the rest of us. I don't believe that Edwards needs to tell ME (or you or the next guy) anything about what goes on in his private life. This is what bugs me about this. Having to tell the world that he had an affair isn't just about whether or not he lies. It's hurtful to his family. Yes, he hurt his family all on his own. But imagine being in Elizabeth Edwards (or any cheated on spouse) position to have to not only deal with this privately but to have your entire neighborhood know. Never mind the entire world. Perhaps cheating reflects on his integrity as a leader, but that still doesn't make it a public issue.

Plus as you pointed out Edwards story is trumping the invasion of Georgia which is just insane.
Comment by Becky Garcia on August 9, 2008 at 1:33pm
As the very-feminist atheist Ani DiFranco once joked of the Clinton affair: Remember, starting phony wars so that your buddies can profit off of them is not grounds for impeachment. "Only blowjobs!"

I'd really rather politicians not lie and cheat on their spouses. But I see that as a personal matter and I'd rather have a president screw an intern than screw a country.
Comment by Hessenroots on August 9, 2008 at 9:28am
Give me one politician that's been completely honest. Find one shining example of an elected official (current or previous) that's never once lied about anything and I'll start going to church. They're human, humans lie. That's not meant as a negative connotation, it's just a fact. Be it in defense, a habitual knee-jerk mechanism or intentional it does happen. The bigger ones get exposed and trounced about like a five cent whore while the little ones pass by unknown.

None of these people really, honestly represent me. Every time I vote, be it local or national, I have to decide which personal views I want to toss out the window (as I'm sure many, many people do). I'd vote for a liar before I voted for a dim-witted, war mongering, trust-fund baby. In that regard, yes, I'd rather a liar represented me in some instances. The nature of the lie(s) would come into question but that's a whole different discussion and I don't want to gum-up Latin's blog

Latin, aside from local news (which is more a daily crime report ticker and weather report) I don't watch news at all so I couldn't really give you a source there. As for the intertoobs, here's my list:

BBC News
Al Jazeera

BBC speaks for itself. They'll run plenty of fluffy, happy-go-stupid stuff but it's infinitely easier to find the actual news (which is quality) as opposed to Fox and CNN.

I liken Al Jazeera to the BBC but without quite as much fluff. Interesting game to play: Find a world news story on, say, Fox. Now find that same story on Al Jazeera and compare the two. THEN find that same story again on BBC, which, 9 times out of 10 will be giving you the same story as Al Jazeera, making Fox look fairly silly. You could build a drinking game around the amount of spin, vitriol and twisted facts. The same effect occurs with CNN but not nearly as often to my experience.

Reuters is a U.S. news company, so I humbly retract 1/3 of the vigor of my previous statement regarding my U.S. news reading habits. Reuters isn't network affiliated so they're not going for ratings. The site is, for better or worse, void of political spin and pundancy.
Comment by IsThatLatin on August 9, 2008 at 8:38am
Kristy, I agree that it's the lying that's the real problem, and that doesn't reflect well on a politician. I guess maybe some small part of me accepts that politicians lie anyway and so I've moved on to deciding which lies I should be upset about. My problem is the degree to which Americans are appalled by these moral questions--time and again, peoples' personal lives trump more important, downright vital global topics and that's frustrating. I suppose I connect it directly with our general religious fanaticism. I feel like if we weren't such an uptight, God-fearing nation, desperately ashamed of our own bodies, we'd have a lot more free time to take care of the real problems. I'm also annoyed at the media's reaction--when this 'news' broke yesterday, our screens were awash with indignation, as if somehow 'we' (read: the media) had a 'right' to know the gory details of this infidelity, when, in fact, this is the private business of John and Elizabeth Edwards--business that had been confronted and taken care of two years ago at the time of the affair. They as a couple had moved on, and now we, as a nation, feel the need to drag it all out so we can basically parade their grief around...why? Because we like to feel indignant, and frankly, this amuses us. It makes me sad for our nation.

Hess...I feel like the only news outlet I have is the BBC world news on BBC America, which doesn't come on until late at night. I put it pretty full days and staying up late to watch the news isn't as appealing as it sounds.

Do you have some links or what have you that would better serve me? Cheers.
Comment by Hessenroots on August 9, 2008 at 8:14am
I stopped using American news outlets as a source for relevant reporting quite some time ago because of BS like this. I don't fully blame the media though, they keep feeding us this tripe because the public at large eats it up and demands seconds.

The news media should, at the very least, inform and mildly educate people in regard to whats happening in the world. What do we get? We get celebrity baby births, whom blew/fucked/molested whom and more 'tips for living green' so you can socially masturbate your ego and one-up the equally shallow lives of your friends. Well done! Next up, the sports...

I've been keeping an eye on the Georgia/Russia/South Ossetia conflict (formally a war now according to both Russia and Georgia) for a few days. This is relevant news. This is important and I'm willing to bet that upwards of 75% of American's have no idea why.

Why anyone should care what other people do with their pink bits is beyond me. Tab-A, slot-b, repeat as needed...it's nothing new people.
Comment by Chrys Stevenson on August 9, 2008 at 7:24am
... Oh, and yes, my comment stands for women who cheat as well.
Comment by Chrys Stevenson on August 9, 2008 at 7:23am
You know what, Latin, I have to beg to differ with you here. To me, 'having an affair' is just another word for lying. Now don't get me wrong - it's not the sex with another woman that bothers me - it's the lying!

I expect my politicians to at least have some modicum of honesty. If a man will lie to his wife, the mother of his children, how can I expect him to be honest with voters?

I had the same issue with Clinton. If he wanted to have sex with a hundred interns in the Oval Office that was just fine with me - as long as he was honest about it.

I think that there is a anti-feminist issue underlying the idea that a politician who has had an affair 'really hasn't done anything wrong' - as if lying to your wife, and betraying your children is some kind of minor infringement.

Again, I have no problem with a politician dissolving his marriage and then going off and bonking as many women as he likes. But one thing at a time. It is the deceit that speaks to the character of men who cheat.

Yes, they may still be great diplomats, politicians and humanitarians but, underneath all that talent, they're still liars and do you really want liars representing you?



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