Friday, August 8, 2008

Random Thoughts on the Edwards mess... (plus Elizabeth Edwards for Vice President?)

On one hand, it was incredibly narcissistic of John Edwards (with the full knowledge and consent of his wife) to run for president with this major and recent skeleton in his closet. On the other hand, myself and others have been saying for years that the unrealistic expectations concerning the private behavior of public officials has been one of the reasons that so few genuinely good and interesting people choose to get involved with politics. It's a complicated situation and I don't claim to have any more wisdom on it than anyone else. I still highly approve of John Edwards's politics and where he stands on social and economic issues. I voted for him in 2004 and was seriously considering voting for him this time around before he dropped out. Were he to run again, I'm not certain that I wouldn't vote for him, depending on who his competition was. I've always said 'it's about the issues, not whether you like the person'. This may be the ultimate test of said philosophy.

Here's an insane idea. Maybe Barack Obama should pick Elizabeth Edwards as his vice presidential candidate. Even before the much-rumored story was confirmed, Edwards was arguably the most loved woman involved with the Democratic Party, and one of the most respected people period. It would kill two birds with one stone. It would help neutralize what will be two big sores for the Obama campaign heading into the convention (the stink of John Edwards' private behavior and the remaining bitterness over Senator Clinton's defeat).

It will also be the kind of gutsy move that finally puts Obama back on the offensive after two weeks of fumbling the ball and letting McCain control the narrative. Politically, she has many of the same ideas and stances on the issues as her husband, especially on issues like health care and the working poor, but she has often been more forceful about their shared progressive agenda. And, pardon the frankness here, but if Edwards' breast cancer were to cause her to step down or pass away after the (hopefully victorious) election, Obama would have carte blanche to pick whomever he wants to be the new vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee in 2016.

I find it a little sexist and/or unfortunate that CNN has on its cover a serious-looking and resolute John Edwards next to a much less flattering, awkward, caught in the headlights picture of his mistress, Riele Hunter. The picture in the actual article is far more flattering, but the contrast on their homepage is striking and disconcerting.

It'll be interesting to see how much credit The National Enquirer gets for breaking this story long before the mainstream media would touch it. It's no secret that the majors were loathe to write about it, although there is the question of how much of a role they played in creating the story. IE - the photos at the hotel in the dead of night.. Was that a set-up arranged by the tabloid after Riele realized that Edwards was not the father, and that she only so much story to tell? David Poland of Movie City News has a nice blurb about this.

I wonder if the veracity of this much discussed tabloid story will cause anyone to think again about the 'tabloid rumors' that occasionally pop up concerning the crumbling of the Bush marriage (a librarian and an anti-intellectual illiterate - I really thought they could make it) and allegations of infidelity between George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice.

For what it's worth, here is an article on MSNBC detailing how they major news outlets were scooped by The National Enquirer. They basically claim that the story was hard to prove and that, according to the Associated Press, they thought it 'better to get it right even if we couldn't get it first'. A nice motto if I ever heard of one, in fact, it's the same motto I use here ("I'd rather be right than first").

Scott Mendelson

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