His wife died a few months ago of cancer, his sky-high political ambitions have crumbled into dust beneath his loafered feet, his wacky ex-lover and mother of his love child is peddling a book about their affair and he now faces as much as 30 years in federal prison.
Anybody out there feel sorry for John Edwards?
No, didn’t think so.
His rise and fall does raise some questions, however. Is Edwards evidence that politics tends to attract people who have a warped sense of morality? Or can a lifetime in politics and the public eye turn even decent people into caricatures of themselves?
I think a case can be made for both explanations, but I prefer a third: Politicians represent the rest of us more accurately than we would like to admit.
His legal troubles aside, Edwards has certainly behaved about as shabbily as can be imagined. Yet if you think about it, I’ll bet most of us know someone personally or have at least heard of someone two or three degrees removed who has behaved just as badly as Edwards has.
And as far as politicians go, I know people of both parties who are honest, sincere and trustworthy, and I know people of both parties who are none of those things. Overall, I don’t think the Bell curve distribution of villains and heroes in the political world varies much from the rest of the world.
However, they do tend to flame out in more spectacular fashion, and when they do, we lock them into the stocks on the modern village square where rotten vegetables can be thrown at them, both as entertainment and as a reminder to us groundlings that crossing certain lines comes at a price.
– Jay Bookman