Monday, August 11, 2008

He Wasn't What I Thought He Was

I was a big fan of John Edwards, the former presidential candidate who last week admitted to cheating on his cancer-stricken wife. When the news broke about the affair, I was devastated.

I'd bought into the whole Edwards family story, the details they shared with us about how John and Elizabeth celebrated all their wedding anniversaries at Wendy's, how they leaned on each other after the tragedy of their son's death, how Elizabeth stoically kept the news of her breast cancer away from John until all the numbers came in after the 2004 election.

I really, really liked John Edwards. I voted for him in the primary in 2004. After he lost and was cast as John Kerry's running mate, I voted for him, too. I went to the primary in February of this year downhearted that I couldn't vote for Edwards in this election; he'd dropped out of the race a day or two earlier.

And now this...

It's bad enough he cheated on his wife, who I imagine after all her physical and emotional trials, could shatter like thin glass. But he also cheated on all of us who believed in him, who defended him when cynics called him "Breck Girl" and questioned the right of a former mill worker's son to indulge in pricey haircuts and live in an extravagant home. He cheated on the working class people who sent him money in the hopes of seeing him making good on his promise to restore the Land of Opportunity to the increasingly less fortunate.

My friend tells me it's only Americans who get hung up on the sex lives of politicians, and I know she's right. I mean, Clinton didn't bother me. I knew what I was getting when I voted for him. I just wanted a president who could get the job done.

But this guy, Edwards, is different. He sold us a fairy story. I don't know whether I'm madder at him or at myself that I bought it.