Mixed Metaphors and Glass Houses

Since I’m on a roll with my opinions, here is what I think about the recent revelations of John Edwards extramarital affair. Or more accurately, here are some metaphors that describe what I think about what the Dems’ and left-leaning political folks are doing to Edwards (and themselves) in reaction to the affair:

  • Throwing Edwards under the bus (or to the wolves or the lions)
  • Cutting of their nose to spite their face
  • Shooting themselves in the foot
  • Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

Like many people, I was disappointed to learn that John Edwards cheated on his wife. And yes, he shouldn’t have lied to the press when he was asked about it. But I’m willing to forgive him for both transgressions, because like many of us, Edwards is imperfect. And more importantly, he remains committed to his marriage and his wife. It’s equally important that Elizabeth Edwards also remains committed to her marriage and her husband, when most would agree that she would be well within her rights to walk out in heartbreak.

Love. Commitment. Forgiveness. Honesty. These are all the family values that we should aspire to embody in our daily lives and our relationships with our loved ones. If anything, John and Elizabeth Edwards should be regarded as role models; imperfect, able to forgive, committed to family, and able to own up to and learn from their mistakes.

Within the public discourse, it seems that the general public would rather see high-profile people (especially women) whose spouses cheat on them leave their adulterous partner than struggle through the pain to uphold the integrity of their families. When it comes to adultery in marriage, there is no paradigm for forgiveness and reconciliation in the public eye. This exposure and pressure in the media (and the public consumption thereof) reveals a wider public sentiment of judgment, stubbornness and self-righteousness. It is no wonder the divorce rate is so high.

I’m disappointed in Edwards because of the affair. I’m equally disappointed to see that fellow Democrats are so quick to condemn him. They are saying that Edwards political career is virtually over since the revelations of his affair. I’ve seen within the so-called “progressive” blogosphere comparisons with Edwards and Newt Gingrich’s indiscretions, which make me scoff.

Gingrich’s moral compass points to heterosexuality and the “traditional” family. Meanwhile, he has been divorced twice and married thrice. Both of his first two marriages ended because he began relationships with other women. And it is worth articulating clearly that he left his first wife for another woman while his wife was recovering from cancer. All of this while simultaneously condemning committed same-sex partnerships as “immoral.”

Edwards is the only high-profile politician, Republican or Democrat, whose moral compass consistently points to finding a solution to the enormous tragedy and injustice of poverty. He had an affair with a woman that he doesn’t love, and in the end admitted to his bad judgment.  The bottom line is that he is staying with his wife and family, and taking full responsibility for the betrayal. He may have cheated on his wife in the midst of a health crisis, but he did not abandon her the way that Gingrich abandoned his wife.

Edwards done wrong, he admits it and he’s trying to do the right thing. Let’s all make peace with it and move on.

While I believe that any public figure has a right to work out their marital difficulties in private, I also recognize that the choices that a politician makes in private are a reflection on decisions they make in public office. Indeed, I am disappointed in Edwards, but he is not the hypocrite that Gingrich is, and even making the comparison is ridiculous.

I am taking the long view on this, and I hope that Edwards will be able to again take his place with his important voice for social and economic justice within American politics. And maybe even John and Elizabeth Edwards will stand as an example of marriage and family values, honoring commitment in spite of their trials and tribulations, and the cruel attention of the media and judgmental public.

Throw stones if you will, but be prepared to replace some broken windows.

One thought on “Mixed Metaphors and Glass Houses

  1. I received this commend via email from my Dad’s wife, and I thought I would post it:

    Dearest Sarah,

    Thanks for your piece on John Edwards. You express my thoughts totally. I was appalled at how quickly he was thrown to the dogs and because he had an affair he is narcissistic. In my mind he was foolish and it doesn’t mean we should throw the good he has done out. What a waste of a great servant. But of course, he is tenacious and will recover. But the whole thing was so salacious and shabby. Love, commitment and forgiveness indeed. And what
    about humility? I read almost no news coverage that was balanced and sensible so it is good to read your blog on him.


    Very fondly, Your step-mom, Mary Elise


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