What I’ve Taken Away From the John Edwards Trial So Far

I’ve thought about John Edwards more than I needed to this weekend. There’s been plenty of sensational coverage all week about his trial, and the money used to cover up his affair which may or may not be classified as campaign contributions.

I should probably be up front and tell you I hate a cheater. You know I’m all about tolerance and openness, but infidelity is one of those subjects about which I just can’t seem to take my own advice. I judge…..harshly and immediately. I regret to say I don’t even really care about the circumstances surrounding the infidelity; the person in question could have all the reasons in the world to seek comfort in the arms of someone else and I will still think he/she is a jerk. I admit, it’s not rational; it is just my visceral response.

But that’s not what this is about.

What I don’t understand, especially in this day and age, is the arrogance of being a public figure and thinking you’re going to get away with it. Clearly I’ve never met John or Elizabeth Edwards, I have no idea what type of people they are/were and I have absolutely no insight into the events which led up to his affair with Rielle Hunter. What I can comment on is my astonishment at people like John Edwards who try to live double lives in the public spotlight, and then lie about it and actually seem affronted that they have been caught and have to answer for themselves.

Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt Gingrich……the list seems endless, and we’re not talking an indiscretion or one night stand here, we’re talking long term relationships, sometimes with children resulting.

The facts presented so far in the trial are astounding to me. Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on hiding a mistress, not just from his wife, but from the nation. Sure, the woman responsible for putting up most of the money was wealthy, and ultimately didn’t seem to care what the money was used for, but I think about the donors of more moderate means, who contributed their money and their time to John Edwards’ campaign because they believed in him, and because they thought they knew the type of man they were voting for.

I don’t know a thing about campaign finance law; and so far the experts on the news seem to think that it is unlikely that John Edwards will be convicted. I feel like it doesn’t really matter whether or not he broke actual laws. In a very real sense, he defrauded everyone who supported him up to the point when the whole story came to light. For better or worse, we care about the whole package when we’re deciding on a presidential candidate. You can have the best ideas in the world but you have to have the ability to connect with the voters as well. John Edwards stood up and pretended to be a family man. He used his family to sway voters. He used his family story to connect with supporters, and all the while he knew it was a lie. If I had been a campaign worker, someone who had held fundraisers for him, or a contributor I would have been livid.

As it is, I’m just disheartened. Powerful and/or famous men (and women, although you don’t hear about that nearly as much) get caught cheating all the time. The infidelity part of the equation is between spouses, and not necessarily a matter for the public, but I have to wonder what type of person is stupid (or blind or naive) enough to think that in a culture where everything is recordable, and every story is for sale that they are going to be the ones immune from public scrutiny. Maybe back in the day when it was easier to hide, it made more sense; look at John F Kennedy for goodness sake. Now, though, I am always shocked when a new story makes the news because all I can think is, “Didn’t he learn anything from so-and-so’s incident?”

When the people involved are sports figures or celebrities, I just shake my head and move on. However, in my not-so-humble opinion, when it comes to politicians, someone with that kind of ego and incredible lack of judgement shouldn’t be in a position to be making laws for the rest of us. Just saying’.

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