The above words were bold headlines in our local newspaper more than a year ago. And above them a photo of the man in question:
I remember back when I thought what a great vice president he'd make. When Kerry lost the election and I heard about Elizabeth Edwards' cancer, I felt terrible. Later I thought Edwards should definitely be a candidate for prez, maybe the top candidate. When the whole haircut thing broke, I thought it was kinda cute that he was so vain. Why not? He definitely had something to be vain about.
What a difference a few months make. Who ever thought the National Enquirer would pull off something so notable and so laudable?
When I noticed the newspaper with the above headlines, after the story broke and Edwards admitted the affair (but not paternity of his lover's baby), I didn't pick it up immediately. Later I had to drive around town and check newspaper boxes to find the exact edition. I realized how unprecedented those headlines were, and I knew I could use it for media training, one of my many jobs. I tried to imagine the editorial board agreeing to headlines so blatant. These are words that characterize the man, not report his actions. Not "he cheated," "he lied," "he's sorry." Instead they say he *IS* a cheater, liar and is only "saying" he's sorry.
Our local newspaper is not a rag. It's one of the top papers in the country. Somebody, maybe more than one body, wanted to stick it to Edwards. I loved hanging this front page on my bulletin board for months and watching the reaction of people walking into my office. I considered this one of the best tools I ever found for showing would-be public figures the dangers of notoriety.
Watch it. This could be you.
Now that Andrew Young's book is out detailing some of the behind-the-scenes machinations, I find myself almost unable to look at the man who once seemed so shiny. That shine now looks like something else to me, like oil, like slime. It's frightening how easily and effectively he was able to lie, lie and lie again. I understand the natural defense mechanism--the lie--the one we start utilizing when we're old enough to fear the consequences of our actions. I can often forgive both the mistake and the lie that attempts to deny it.
I told myself for a long time that it was his stupidity that disgusted me most. And his hubris.
But you know what? Listening to the believable (albeit self-serving) story of the past three years of manipulation and wasted money, those pretty eyes and that glowing smile look more like the devil to me. I just think the guy's a creep. He may even be a sociopath.
And I don't know how I feel about his beards, the supposedly nice, middle class family that would probably still be keeping Edwards' secrets if he hadn't cut off the gravy train. I think Young was as enamored of Edwards as the mistress. Maybe more. He doesn't mince words about his love and fascination for the handsome, charismatic politician.
This is slash, baby. Young had to hide the pregnant mistress, because he and she were in the same boat. They were both Edwards-lovers, the enemies of Elizabeth Edwards.
Listening to the stories of their respective lives makes me feel a little dirty.
But it's better than a Lifetime movie. I just can't stop.