In Contempt (8/14/2008): Shrinking Emprie, Part 3
I had considered doing something on the John Edwards scandal, but after a moment’s reflection, I realized I really didn’t give a shit. I hadn’t done a strip on Larry Craig or Rush Limbaugh or Bill Bennett or even Bill O’Reilly, whose falafel/loofah confusion was tempting. I did do something on Eliot Spitzer, but that was really a response to the sexist apologist notion that prostitution is a “victimless crime.” There are more important issues to do a cartoon about.
Blogging is a different story. Were Edwards the prospective nominee, I would feel more outrage, that he had basically handed the election to McCain (unless those allegations of the Maverick being literally in bed with a lobbyist turned out to be true, at which point the infidelity scandals cancel each other out.) Instead we learned that yet again another politician has lied about cheating on his wife. Shocked, shocked.
This morning I heard the editor from the National Enquirer on NPR justify investigating the story by recalling Edwards’ condemnation of Bill Clinton’s infidelity and his bringing his family out on the campaign trail. But … all politicians drag their family out on the stump, just as all of them will deny extra-marital affairs, at least those who are having them. They do so because our culture expects them to be good Family Men (and, we should note, Family Women are expected to be model mothers), even as the system is rigged to reward the sleaziest bastard going. Hypocrisy is built into game. It would be nice if our public servants could keep it in their pants for the sake of their families, but really, I’d be happy if they just did what they were elected to do —in that most pollyannish sense— serve the public. And not, say, the corporations or the military industrial complex.
If John Edwards could have seriously resolved issues of class in the United States (admittedly, another pollyannish dream), would we really care about his private dalliances? Maybe that’s why Elizabeth Edwards agreed to keep mum and fought so hard to get him elected. I don’t know. No one knows. That’s why private issues should stay private; it’s not only beyond our ken and none of our biznezz, but we should be focused on far more pressing public issues. When we reach the promised land, then we can call out the morality police — at which point, of course, utopia vanishes in a puff of smoke.