Won’t Get Fooled Again

I have to say something about John Edwards now. Don’t worry — this will be short.

I’m sad. The world we live in is fucked in so many ways. The longer I live (hint: It’s already been way too long) the worse it gets. Global climate change, the collapse of the world financial system, the rise and apparent superiority of authoritarian government (see China), peak oil, the unending appetite for war and more war, the closing of all the libraries, the Minnesota Vikings, the corrupt and inept Bush Administration, the destruction of Labor and the middle class in the U.S., and on and on.

But I still wanted to hope. I still wanted to believe that we as humans have a better nature, and that with a little leadership and inspiration we can overcome our bad selves and work together to raise us all up to a higher level and create a happy, thriving planet on which we spend our energy and resources making things better, instead of simply stealing the better things from whomever already gots.

I thought that was the John Edwards message, and it appealed to my hopeful instinct. I thought that if a guy with such a vision could even get close to competitive in our rigid two-party presidential system, maybe things weren’t so bad after all.

But even as he was putting forth his hopeful message he was, it now appears, sabotaging himself, and — if he had won his party’s nomination — wrecking the nation’s chance to escape the criminality and venality of the modern Republican Party. For surely his affair with Rielle Hunter would have been exposed, as it has been, and presto! — President McCain.

I supported Edwards, and when he dropped out I was disappointed, but the reality was that he was not getting the votes he needed. I couldn’t see why, because Edwards seemed to be the answer to a lot of our wishes. But you have to be practical. I switched my support to Obama, and kept hoping that Edwards would either be on the ticket or in an eventual Obama cabinet.

I don’t really care about the infidelity. I don’t know how it happened or why. It’s none of my business. But I do feel conned. I’m mad at myself more than at John Edwards, because I was all pumped up and ready to buy the snake oil.

I was right. Things are fucked. There is no redemption.

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14 Replies to “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

  1. Ditto – except I didn’t buy into the current political cons – I got cynical about politics during the reign of Dick Nixon. Recently I wrote a g-rated version about how I feel but realistically about the Time of Reagan the die was solid for our current Repug Era.

    Recently I read David Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War and he goes into some detail about how the right wing seethed at FDR’s politic and progressive methods and how they tied up much of what Truman had to and wanted to do. The Korean War was botched by a right wing general – MacArthur – who had the blessing of powerful and moneyed conservatives to such an extent he was untouchable – he messed with foreign policy (and the State Dept.), lied about the war and mismanaged the war from it’s beginnings. Truman was checkmated until MacArthur made his move towards China.

    The point of this is the Repugs – the neocons – the right wing has so fucked over our government I don’t think a progressive Jesus Christ could get elected.

    The perennial religious fundamentalism of this country finally has a strong arm to go with their big mouths.

    Bill Clinton and John Edwards, the moment they unzipped were toast. That stuff is fodder for the right wing slime, and since, we are getting dumber and lazier by the hour, whether a person has the skill or vision to be a president no longer matters. Edwards sex life bumps policy (in the media) every time.

  2. Bill – I have plenty of animosity toward our extreme right-wing bretheren in the U.S., but, accepting for the time being the stoopid political reality they have created, I believe Bill and John should have, could have refrained from their sexual escapades long enough to do some good for the nation. (I am living proof that a man can go without sexual release for eight years.) Now when you try to point out all the kinky hyperconservative hypocrites like Foley, Craig, Gingrich, Haggard, et al, they can all too easily counter with the foibles of John Edwards.

    Anyway, you’d think if they wanted to get it on, they would have considered going into the rockstar business, not presidential politics. I mean, they were asking for — and getting — the trust and the money of millions of people, while secretly getting busy with various floozies, and there was virtually NO CHANCE they’d get away with it.

  3. Larry – I don’t disagree with you… but the fact that sexual activity is an issue in politics speaks more about the fact that most people seem to have bought into religious fundamentalist values and interpretations concerning sex.

    If there was indifference about sexual behavior then I would also say the power of religious fundamentalism would be less. But since there is such extreme reactions to sexuality then, the opposite is true, that is fundamentalism has succeeded with getting their values and the acceptable values of our society (Unfortunately, there is also global trends regarding other religions.)

    It’s a given that America is hypocritical about sex – and that sexual activity for pols is a field full of land mines, Clinton and Edwards both were thinking with their glands instead of the brains.

    And it is doubly damning for them because progressive politics currently walks a thin line regarding majority acceptability. Those two dickheads jeopardized more than their own careers – no matter how many Repugs get caught in bathroom stalls or are “addicted” to whatever, their buddies own the media and the furor over naughty or wrong behavior almost gets a pass. When a liberal or progressive screws up, turn on the Hollywood klieg lights!

  4. I end up being sideways on this issue, or all over the map, more like.

    On one hand, monogamy doesn’t do it for me. Never has. I do not put a premium on it, have never been in a relationship that was monogamous for the whole length of the relationship, and don’t think that many/most/some people are well-suited for it.

    That said, I also think that people need to be honest with themselves about their own wants and needs in that arena, and most people are not. Most people want to claim they’re monogamous, because explaining anything else to other people (should the need for explanations occur) becomes too difficult. We maintain this myth of you-and-only-you–especially for women, of course, who are worthless once they have had a penis inside them. (And, really, at least some people, perhaps many, do prefer monogamy. My parents have been married for >50 years, and, while I doubt either was virginal when they married, I also doubt either has slept with anyone else since they married. My brother’s the same way. And they prefer that, and can do that, and it works for them.)

    And as both of you pointed out, in different ways, Edwards should have been smart enough to (a) not unzip to begin with, or (b) put it right out there, right up front, say, as part of his introduction to us all, “I had an affair, I’m not proud of that, and Elizabeth and I have worked through the pain I caused by my behavior. I say this to you all now so it does not come back to me later, but this is a private matter, and neither Elizabeth or I will discuss it further.” Or even to say that they don’t have a monogamous marriage, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for THAT to happen.

    But dude, you shoulda known it was going to come out, so WTF?

  5. I also supported Edwards. I liked his words and his hope for a less impoverished America. I liked that he owned up to making a mistake when he voted to give Bush the power to wage war in Iraq. He’s human; we all make bad decisions and have to pay the consequences. And I was sorry when he didn’t get enough votes to make his run for the presidency viable.

    And today I’m sad and a little angry, too. I don’t think that it’s any of my business what John Edwards or any other politician does in the bedroom, whether it’s inside marriage or outside of it. But it disturbs me deeply that he would first, in this current atmosphere of righteous sexual prudery and tittering voyeurism, take the terrible chance of being caught with his pants down. Jeez. Have a little self control, man!

    What disturbs me even more is that, once caught, he bald-face lied about it to all of us. Did he learn nothing from Bill Clinton’s sexual weakness and folly? That he succumbed to temptation is sad enough, given his wife’s illness and the hopes so many Americans had pinned on his success. That alone probably would have destroyed his chances. But to then lie about it? After having a president impeached over lying about his tawdry sexual escapades, hadn’t Edwards internalized the hard truth that “It’s not the deed, it’s the lie?” Thank goodness he DIDN’T win, since he was so lacking in seriousness that he’d risk everything to get laid.

    So much for the “wisdom” of our leaders.

    I begin to understand why most people pay little attention to politics and don’t get involved. In the end, it seems we just have to live with what we get. I hope Obama is better than this (or at least that he has enough self-control to keep his trousers zipped). And I hope that McCain, a babbling idiot (who’s also an adulterer, by the way, but at least he didn’t lie about it) and a truly dangerous man, doesn’t come to power. About the most I can hope for now is that whoever becomes our next president, he doesn’t make things worse than they already are.

    Yeah, dumb as it is, I’m still hanging on to a few shreds of hope.

  6. I didn’t support Edwards in the first place, but I’ve never found political infidelity all that alarming (excepting Sen Craig, who made life very difficult for homosexuals before coming out–but that’s the hypocrisy that bothers me).

    I wish we could take sex and religion right out of the political equation. Why is it my business where Obama worships or with whom Edwards sleeps? And hey, where I worship (or don’t) and my sex life are none of their business, either.

    I guess I’m a slightly Libertarian Liberal.

  7. Narya, there’s a difference in choosing not to ‘practice’ monogamy and then having it AS A GIVEN, an oft-discussed part of your relationship and the core of your marriage–only to find out you were conned by a con man. A stranger living and sleeping with you in your own bed. Screw you, Edwards, you motherf.

  8. Weighing in again. I don’t care what a person does with their penis or vagina. Doesn’t matter at all. Sex is as common as water, topsoil and national anthems. Big deal. So what! Everyone screws, either in marriage or not. Let’s discuss the planet’s over population – uh, where did all the people come from?

    Regarding Edwards or Clinton or Mickey Mouse – if you got some fame, some THING that makes you a public big deal – sex will be soooo available you will be spinning in either anticipation of nookie or fear of its consequences. There’s a reason why groupies exist.

    We live in a screwy hypocritical country – one that has a palette full of sex fantasies, imagines, opportunities and an a to z list of obsessions. We pay fortunes to entertainers to titillate, porn is an internet fact and we have the consequences of sex gone wrong – AIDS, teen pregnancy, absentee dads, etc. Sex is condemned and desired all at the same second. Hooray for the USA!

    And in that same climate, we also have puritans still in the 1600s making so much noise about right and wrong that even the most moderate person buys into the negatives of puritanical sex.

    So, Edwards had a mistress… so what? The important thing for me is this: Can he do a good job working in government? Did I support him? No. Would I support him if he was the Dem nominee, sure.

    Let Edwards and his wife work out their relationship – it has nothing to do with good government.

  9. Bill – I haven’t figured out why so many Americans have “bought into” God-based prudery regarding sexual matters. But since they have, I think a smart politician — which is what I thought Edwards was — should be prepared to toe the Morality Line. It’s a trade-off. You can’t change attitudes that are rooted in millenia of superstition, so if you want to be President you’ve got to work with what you have.

    Narya – Good speech. To bad Edwards didn’t think of it. The outcome for his campaign couldn’t have been worse than it actually turned out, and a lot of us would have had much more respect for him. But don’t get so deep into that “blame the patriarchy” thing that you fail to realize what a large number of us value women for who they are and the contributions they bring, regardless of whether they may have hosted a penis or two.

    Wren – You sum it up nicely, but I still wonder — why do we hang on to any hope?

    kStyle – Clearly, most of us are on the same page here.

    SJ – Who knows what agreement John and Elizabeth Edwards had? But I think they strongly implied to the world that they had a standard, till-death-do-us-part marriage, and now it appears that they didn’t and maybe both of them — certainly one of them — knew about it and misled us, The People. On the other hand if they took real vows before their friends and families, and if they really meant them, then he who strays deserves your derision.

    Bill – Yes. Same page. I’m having a hard time with forgiveness here though, because the risk he took affects more than just his family. It could have — and might still — derail the whole election.

  10. There is no redemption. Hell’ there is no religion. There is no scenario where men of power are not fucking around in one way or another, but usually in the usual way! Are the republicaans so moral that they can’t be caught fucking somebody? I don’t think so. McCain was caught cheating on his first wife, but the passage of time and a second wife seems to steam-clean the dirty bastard. Or is it that all prisoners of war get a get-out-of-jail-free card?

    I say that no man is clean, and it’s high time we acknowledged that fact. It may be that ladies are not clean, either–we just haven’t had enough of them running for high office to get the press to make any serious inquiry.

  11. Not being an Edwards fan, I felt nothing other than overall sadness for the world.

    Sadness that this is the kind of world we live in. Where one of us hopes and prays to be married someday and then she gets messages like this and it makes her want to run as far away as possible from such an institution.

  12. I would still buy Bill Clinton’s snake oil, even though I hate what he has done to Hillary. Daddy issues!

    Thanks for your intelligent debate over at SJ’s! People scare me.

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