John Edwards /John Edwards/John
Please keep your pants on.
Seymour Glass, the complexly tragic older brother in J.D. Salinger's fictional Glass family, wrote the following poem at the tender age of eight (the poem is introduced by his younger brother Buddy after Seymour's suicide):
"John Keats/ John Keats/ John/Please put your scarf on."
Seymour's poem takes the form of a familial nagging: its poignancy comes in part from the naive assumption the Romantic tragedy of Keats's early death could avoided if he'd simply dressed more warmly.
My little parody, however, is quite different. There's nothing poignant about John Edwards' extramarital affair with novice filmmaker Rielle Hunter, about which he now admits he lied repeatedly. In an interview for Nightline tonight, Edwards told ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff he did have an affair with 42-year old Rielle Hunter, but said that he did not love her.
The poignancy all belongs to 52-year-old Elizabeth Edwards, his wife of 30 years.
A lawyer and writer, Elizabeth Edwards accompanied her husband on the campaign trail in 2004 (when Edwards was John Kerry's running mate). She was beside him for the 2008 campaign, despite the fact that her breast cancer, previously in remission, had returned had advanced to stage IV (metastatic), spreading to spots on her ribs and hip.
Although neither of the Edwards is being too specific about dates, the timeline published by various newspapers indicates that Edwards was indeed having an affair with Hunter at the time Elizabeth was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
December 2006 Rielle Hunter is hired by Edwards' campaign to produce a series of webisodes for which she is paid $100,000.
March 2007 Elizabeth discovers her cancer has returned.
October 2007 The National Enquirer first reports Edwards-Hunter affair; Edwards publicly denies it. "The story is false," he told reporters then. "It's completely untrue, ridiculous."
"I've been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years and as anybody who's been around us knows, she's an extraordinary human being, warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known. So the story's just false."December 19, 2007 The Enquirer publishes follow-up story that includes a photograph of a visibly pregnant Hunter.
Feb. 27, 2008 Hunter gives birth to daughter named Frances Quinn Hunter. No father's name is given on the birth certificate filed in California. (An Edwards campaign worker claims to be the baby's father).
July 21, 2008 Edwards visits Hunter at the Beverly Hills Hilton, leaving the hotel at 2:40 a.m. Spotting National Enquirer reporters, Edwards hides in the men's room until he's ousted by hotel security. His wife had not known about the meeting.
Aug. 8, 2008 John Edwards releases statement admitting his affair with the filmmaker.
"In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up -- feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself."
Aug. 8, 2008 Elizabeth Edwards stands by her huband in a posts on the Daily Kos, pleading for privacy.
"John made a terrible mistake in 2006. The fact that it is a mistake that many others have made before him did not make it any easier for me to hear when he told me what he had done. But he did tell me.
Fine. What else can she say? She's only the gazillionth political wife this decade whose husband can't keep his pants on.
Problem: How to keep male politicians from feeling so "special, egocentric and narcissistic," they no longer feel obligated to behave morally or responsibly?
Immediately upon submitting their name as candidates for ANY public office, male politicians will be required to attend a course on the pitfalls of power, for their own safety as well as that their his loved ones.
1. They will study -- and be tested on -- the nature of power: the way is gilds the holder with a false allure that attracts male and female power-junkies and offers never-before-encountered opportunities for dubious, if not downright immoral, sexual, financial, social behaviors.
2. As in Driver's Ed classes, students will watch gruesome documentary footage of the horrible wrecks other politicians have made of their careers and lives, including public confessions, impeachment hearings, and police mug shots.
3. They will memorize the following definition of political power:
"Election to public office is not an indicator of personal worth, let alone omnipotence, infallibility, or irresistibility. Public officials only don -- temporarily -- the mantle of institutional power with which voters have entrusted them."
4. Before bedtime, they will repeat to themselves the following caveat:
"I will not fall in love with the illusion of my own personal power; I will not allow others to fall in love with the illusion of my personal power; and most of all, I will never exploit anyone who has falls in love the illusion of my power."