Monday, August 11, 2008


I turned on the television yesterday and was treated to two hours of nonstop discussion of John Edwards and his affair with another woman, other than his wife. After two hours of it, I clicked off the television. It was the big news of the day, and if there is anything Americans seem to love, its the titillating details of an extramarital affair, especially when it concerns a politician. About once a month, we dig out another scandal and, of course, the participants are always very sorry and have asked forgiveness from God, their wives, Rush Limbaugh, the neighbor and the UPS deliveryman. We devour this stuff. If we could crawl into bed with these people and drool over them while they are sinning, we'd probably line up to do it.

If only one of those errant souls would say, "It's none of your business!" and go on about his way, but that isn't the way the game is played. First, they deny everything, running from reporters, who are like hounddogs on the trail of a coon. Then, cornered, they admit that they did, indeed, have an affair, a meaningless encounter, and that they have learned the error of their ways. They are penitent. That is necessary for the public to see. We like seeing penitent sinners almost as much as we enjoy finding out about the sins.

Almost always, the wife stands staunchly beside her husband, showing her support to the world. Her face is expressionless. She stands firmly, even if a high wind is blowing, an oak tree, with roots firmly planted in the ground. Probably, when the lights are gone and the cameras have been tucked away, she turns to him and says, "O.K., Romeo! You've had your moment. Now let's get down to reality! Here's the way it's going to be!"

We all know that marriage is not a game to be played lightly. It is a rough road, with all sorts of bumps and crevases along the way. It isn't easy to be married. You fall in love with this guy who seems perfect. Every hair on his head is glistening. His smile is like a flash of sunshine. His eyes gleam like jewels. He is perfect in every way and charming, to boot! Then you marry him and, on the honeymoon, he remains perfect. But soon, the shine begins to wear away, showing a little tarnish beneath the gleaming perfection. You learn that his socks stink, his underwear gets stained and he can have bad breath in the morning....or all day, for that matter.

It's a dreadful letdown and romance can fly out the window. Remember, it is the same for a man as for a woman. That glorious personification of feminine beauty doesn't stay that sultry Venus forever. No, she fades into an ordinary woman, with a shrill, nagging voice, hair that sticks out in every direction after a night's sleep, and a few pounds too many on the derrierre.

On top of these perfectly normal letdowns, there is a double burden to carry when one or the other partner is sick. Let's admit it. Not all of us are cut out to be nurses. We trudge faithfully into doctors' offices with our ailing mates. We count the pills out, watch over the medication, and do the necessary chores. We make sure the sick partner gets the rest, handle doctors' appointments, empty bedpans, and nervously listen to the diagnosis.

It would be great if every person could remain devoted and faithful forever, but these life situations are a drain on the soul. Imagine John Edwards, a loving fellow, socked in the gut by life when his son was killed in an accident. He mourned, he grieved, and as grief does, it passes, and more children came along. Then, another sock in the gut, his wife has cancer. More grief, more worry, more trouble. Her cancer went into recession, but the nervousness remained.

Then he meets a woman glowing with health, a woman with a bright smile, a curly head of hair, gleaming eyes. A laughing, happy, carefree woman! What's more, she is available. So, rather than continuing his path of strength and fortitude, he succumbed, and a brief affair followed.

His wife's cancer returned and John Edwards ran for President of the United States, losing his bid rather early on, at least compared to the bulldog stubbornness of Hillary Clinton. Should a Candidate for the President halt in the middle of a speech on the economy and say..."Oh, by the way, folks, I have sinned!" Does an extramarital affair cause a person to lose their feelings for the poor, for the downtrodden, for the populace? Does an extramarital affair make a person unable to run a country? Must we find a Saint for the Oval Office? Must we elect a person without sin, without a mistake to call his own? Where will we find this person? Is there such a person, and if there is, would he or she be a good President?

John McCain, in his book, admits to having had affairs during his first marriage. He also left behind his first wife, who was crippled and had gained weight, following a horrible accident. Before you could say Shameonyou, he was wooing a beautiful young heiress. Somehow, there does not seem to be two hours of television viewing on this subject. Why? Is John Edwards' affair worse than McCain's? How do we rank these things?

For years and years now, Republicans have harped on Bill Clinton and his rather tawdry affair with Monica Lewinsky. By default, they also harp on Hillary. Actually, she played the game exactly as other women do. She stood by her husband. Only God knows how Hillary Clinton suffered over Bill's unfaithful behavior! Only God knows how humiliating it must have been! But Hillary is given no credit for all of this loyalty by the Republicans. The Bill and Shrillery jokes keep coming.

John Kennedy was said to have made love to different women each day. It is said his aides used to line up women for him. Yet, if you ask almost anyone, they will list Kennedy as one of our best presidents. When he died, the entire nation mourned. We forgave Kennedy for his indiscretions, probably because he was rich, and you know and I know, the rich are different from you and me.

John Edwards is also rich, a self-made man who made his fortune defending the underdog in a courtroom, tackling huge corporations who didn't seem to care if their medication affected the lives of the people taking it. He is a man with feeling for the downtrodden, a man who cares about the lives of the public. So he gets a $400 haircut? So would I, if I could afford it.

Let's cut him some slack. He isn't the first politician to have an affair and he won't be the last. In fact, he isn't the first member of the public to have an affair, either. We may snicker a bit at the libido of a politician, but the truth is, many of us are not so saintly ourselves. In fact, none of us are saintly. Let's face it. We're a nation of sinners. God said so.

So, let's forgive John Edwards and give him a job somewhere. He has not lost his ability in this world, simply because we have learned he is imperfect. In fact, I like a little imperfection in other people. It makes me feel so perfect myself.

Blogger Jennie said...

* waves *

Hello! Sent here by your niece, who told me you were awesome. Your blog seems to bear this out. I'm going to add you to my reading list, if you don't mind?

7:12 PM  

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