Here’s the deal. Ever since the MoveOn.org crowd decided that the morals of a politician were nobody’s business but their own, we’ve lived in a world of double standards. Both those on the Left (Sen. Edwards, Jesse Jackson, Rep. Jefferson, etc.) and those on the right (Larry Craig, Ted Stevens, etc.) try their best to convince us that their private behavior has no bearing on their public fortunes.
That’s a load of B.S.
This is an issue of trust, and if someone is a hypocrite, you simply can’t – or at least shouldn’t – trust them.
A lot of people think that I find the behavior of Wild Bill, the Breck Girl, et all to be reprehensible. They’d be right. But they also think that the only reason I find that behavior offensive is that I’m a conservative and they are not. They’d be dead wrong on that one. I find ANY hypocrisy distasteful, but hypocricy on the part of public officials is a deal-breaker for me. When the news media announces the latest scandal out of Washington, I cringe, hoping and praying that it’s not some conservative who’s behind the story. Regardless of who it is, if the alligations are true, I WANT THEM OUT OF OFFICE. No “well it’s okay because they’re on my side” equivocation. No, “well we need to understand them…we haven’t walked a mile in their shoes” nonsense. They need to go. Now.
John Edwards case is particularly nauseating. Here’s a guy who’s not only evidently committed adultery, but did it while his wife battles cancer. How low can you go? And this morning, I read that the National Enquirer cornered him after an all-nighter in L.A. with his mistress and their “love child.” An aside: I’m not crazy about the term ‘love child.’ Don’t get me wrong…I don’t like the idea of bastardizing some innocent child for the sins of their parents, but “love child” is so euphamistic, it seems to try and make having a child out of wedlock a positive thing. Wouldn’t “lust child” or “he couldn’t keep it in his pants and this is the result child” be a little more accurate? But I digress…
You see, when you have a hypocrite – on the left OR the right – try and tell us how we should live our lives, all I can think of is the aphorism, “Do as you say.” Edwards wants to foist all sorts of social programs on us, because he claims to know what’s best for us, essentially putting us in a position of being morally inferior to him, if we don’t agree that his way is the best way. Now I’m not impliying nor insisting that our leaders must be morally without stain, pure as the driven snow, or even sin-free. Nobody is. Not me. Not you. And certainly not them. But what I’d like to hear is a politician that cops to feet of clay, and says something like, “look…I screwed up. I was wrong. What I did was wrong. But nobody’s above the law – either moral law or Constitutional law – and we all have to abide by the law. Therefore, even though I’ve made mistakes, I think that this [whatever THIS is] is what we need to do…” Wouldn’t that be refreshing? Couldn’t you get behind someone that was THAT honest about themselves?
While I can NEVER condone adultery, I’d almost – almost – give the Breck Girl a break, if he came out and said publicly, “Look. We all make mistakes. My wife and I have been through some tough times, and we each deal with adversity in different ways. I made the mistake of taking comfort in the arms of another woman. It was wrong to do this. I was wrong to have an affair. I take full responsibility for this. I am hereby publicly acknowledging this child as my own, and pledge to support the baby both financially and emotionally. I appologize to my wife and beg her forgiveness. I apologize to my mistress, for had I not been weak, she would not have been drug into this public mess. And I apologize to every one of my supporters across the country. I have let you down. Please don’t allow my private failings to shake your faith in our cause, and in what we believe is right for the country. I have a lot of soul-searching to do. I have to find a way to heal my broken marriage – a marriage that, through my actions I have damaged, perhaps irreperably. And I have sinned in the eyes of God. Please allow me and those that I have hurt to take some time now to think about things, talk with each other and with God, and to begin to heal from this hurt I have caused.”
Now THAT’S an appology. No equivocating. No wishy-washy nonsense. And no way to continue to browbeat the guy, because he’s completely fessed up. Compare and contrast (as they used to say in my college English courses) that appology to the deny, defend, and dissemble strategy employed by the Breck Girl. He evidently went so far as to get his best friend to claim he’s the daddy – a guy with three kids of his own. (His wife and kids must be SO proud.)
The bottom line is this: if you’re gonna hold yourself up as a leader, you don’t have to be sin-free (again, nobody is) but you MUST strive to be better. And you must acknowledge your failings. If you can’t do this, you have no buisness running for office, or serving the public in a position of trust.
08/08/08 UPDATE: Edwards (at last) publicly admitted (to a mainstream press uneasy with the prospect of bashing a liberal) that he’s been lying though his teeth about the affair, and was in fact having a sexual liasson with someone other than his wife. He continues to deny paternity on the love child, claims he “didn’t love her [the mistress]” and that he only cheated when his wife was in remission.
Am I the only one who sees his statements are rationalizations, excuses, and moral equivalencies – and don’t address his sin, his guilt, or admissions, nor are they an adequate statement of contrition. The guy is every bit the weasel I thought he was. Betcha O’s short list for Veep just got one name shorter.