John Edwards cannot keep it in his pants. Stop the presses! Powerful men tend to have uncontrolled sexual appetites, with plentiful "stocks" of willing partners to tempt any who require tempting---albeit not always "willing". The Kennedys are a prime example. Joseph, JFK's dad, was accused by a teenaged friend of one Kennedy daughter of climbing into her bed in the middle of the night. JFK's appetites were legendary, inspiring awe for his pain tolerance because he had a bad back. To be fair, I don't know if subsequent generations of Kennedys outgrew the family's entrenched misogyny. I rather hope they did, if only for the safety of female visitors to their houses.
But the lesson embedded in the Edwards' saga is not the need to outfit male politicians with chastity pants, nor even the lack of priorities exhibited by voters who scream for the heads of morally wayward office seekers while tolerating far more egregious behavior, behavior that is corrupt in ways having nothing to do with sex.
Consider the May 21 NY Times account of various testimony on the case against the Senator. Advised by knowledgeable consultants that the affair with Rielle Hunter would destroy his career, Edwards placed the incompetent woman in a well-paid position, producing so-called webisodes for his candidacy. The productions, so amateurish they couldn't be aired, raised suspicion. Yet the arrogant Mr. Edwards flew this lowly employee on his private campaign plane, toting her luggage himself even though he couldn't deign to pick up a newspaper on his own. He requests health insurance for her and, when told she's a mere consultant and they don't give benefits to contract employees, he barks something along the lines of "Do it," responding to "Why?" by snorting, "Figure it out." This man clearly has a death wish.
Meanwhile, the Senator represents himself as a friend to the poor, uniting "the two Americas." I guess Rielle was sort of poor before he united with her.
But the real lesson lies in the exposure of the private man behind the candidate. Edwards, the putative man of and for the people, turns out to be someone who psychologically tortured his wife in the final months of her life, a man with a snarky attitude toward those who questioned, unfortunately, NOT his ethics but his wisdom, and one who cavalierly used campaign funds to keep his proclivities under wraps, even as he impregnated his mistress. The dissociation between the public Edward and the private parallels the burgeoning dissociation we see in, for example, Barack Obama, who can be broken down into President Obama, Candidate Obama, and private Obama. Campaign Obama is the puppet of PACs and paid hacks with very expensive wet fingers waggling in the wind. President Obama is the puppet of the .01%. And if you think you have a clue who the private Obama is and what he truly believes, you must have psychic powers.
The front page of the same NY Times contemplates some of the damage inflicted by Citizens United.
. . . for a growing number of strategists and operatives in both parties, the very nature of what it means to work in politics has shifted. Once wedded to the careers and aims of individual candidates, they are now driven by the agendas of the big donors who finance outside spending. . . ."I think at the end of the day it has to do with money," said Matt Mackowiack, a Republican consultant who works with Let Freedom Ring, a group set to spend $20 million on political advertising this year.
Consider Abraham Lincoln on the train, scribbling the Gettysburg Address on an envelope. A Dubya couldn't have made it past the first public speech. Whatever you think of Mr. Lincoln, and I have many reservations about his well-doctored image, he said what he thought and believed in what he said. With campaigns the product of opinion polls and slanted news programs and influential lying TV ads, the public has become nothing but a pawn in an ugly game. We vote for robo-candidates, telling us anything we want to hear and dissociating themselves from, for instance, racist ads because, after all, they cannot control what those super PACs are doing.
So here's what our democracy has devolved into: Cardboard men and women equipped with recordings pasted together by people to whom "in the end, it's all about money," and rhetoric aimed not at what's shredding our country and its economy, but at what will shred our intellects by firing up our prejudices. We too will become robots in the thrall of men for whom everything on earth is all about money.
I don't believe in God but I fervently wish somebody could help us.