Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If You Drink, Don't Drive

This is very painful to have to write. This time last year, I supported John Edwards for the Democratic Presidential nomination. He advocated all the right things. His family story was heroic, his wife intelligent, charming, and courageous. Even with everyone prepared for the worse news about Elizabeth, bad news has no mercy.

Now former Senator and Vice-Presidential nominee Edwards makes a full confession of his arrogance and stupidity, as exposed by grocery-store gossip The National Enquirer. “It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, as it is inadequate to say to the people who love me that I am sorry. In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up, feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help.”

Elizabeth Edwards released a statement asking “that the public, who expressed concern about the harm John's conduct has done to us, think also about the real harm that the present voyeurism does and give me and my family the privacy we need at this time."

Fair enough. But what in blazes was he thinking? OK, so the organ in charge was not his brain. Maybe he was thinking about Thomas Jefferson, or FDR, or JFK. Jefferson, a charter member of The Age of Enlightenment, acted out his own special interpretation about what it meant to be a Founding Father. JFK was serenaded by Marilyn Monroe, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” as highly charged as if she had just sprung from a cake, and the Huntley-Brinkley NBC Nightly News broadcast the scene at the time, with such snickers and snorts all around that they could barely sign-off, “Good night, Chet. Good night, David.” The day FDR died, his last girlfriend, Lucy Mercer, was at the Warm Springs, Ga., Little White House, with no pretense of secrecy, just the good old days before supermarket tabloids, 24/7 cable news, and the blogesphere.

I know politicians are only human, no better than the rest of the flesh and blood population. Politicians spend way too much time on the road, like traveling salesmen or entertainers, in and out of hotels, far from the comforts of home. Bill Clinton was impeached. He beat the rap, but two Speakers of the House subsequently perished by the sword as payback. The real loser was anybody interested in the political goals of any of the central players. Don’t blow hard about the poor, healthcare, taxes, national defense, and then let a titillation just blow it all to rubble.

Is there something in the personal constitution of politicians that seems to make it so difficult for them to keep their pants on? Years ago, I asked that question to Atlanta Journal Political Editor Charles Pou, who sat at the desk in front of me in the news room. “They are adoration addicts,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it is the roar of a crowd or just a whiff of perfume.” Politicians have poor records at just saying, no.

A good old rule: If you drink, don’t drive. The life you save may be mine. I want to propose a new rule: If you run for public office, don’t load your philandering into your political pistol and play Russian roulette. The rest of us may be standing in the line of fire.

Or else, go run for President of France.

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter

1 comment:

Tina said...

Charisma and excess libido seem to be traveling companions in the emotional makeup of certain public figures -- in this case we may find evangelists, entertainers, and politicians all swimming in the same gene pool. For once I would like to see one of the wives give the miscreant a a good kick in the shin or slap in the face right there on television and announce loudly: "Hit the road, you #$%^&%^& !! I'm filing for divorce !!"


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