Edwards V. McCain: Sean Hannity Spins Bunkum Out Of B.S.

Sean Hannity’s attempt to differentiate John McCain’s adultery from John Edwards’ is laughable. Men like Hannity actually do little more than muddy the waters of the morality they seek to claim as the unique domain of their party and their candidate.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

I realize that partisan politics is apt to skew our views of the politicians we support or oppose. At the same time, reality should lead us to see them as they actually are. In the aftermath of the John Edwards affair, party pundits have done their best to spin the situation for maximum benefit. Unfortunately, the following video of Sean Hannity demonstrates the degree to which denial can transform strategic spinning into little more than hysterical hyperbole.

In discussing the Edwards affair with a guest panel, Hannity proceeds to excoriate John Edwards while defending the same behavior from John McCain. It seems that Hannity thinks that McCain’s time in captivity in Vietnam is sufficient to grant McCain a waiver with regards to cheating on his wife. Never mind that his wife, who had been the unfortunate victim of a horrific car accident, remained faithful to her husband despite her stressful circumstances. Apparently Hannity believes adversity can only be used to the advantage of husbands when explaining their dalliances.

The problem with Hannity’s tortured defense of John McCain is found in numerous biographical accounts of his candidate. Truth be told, while McCain’s time in Vietnam deservedly garners him high praise for exemplary service, it simply interrupted his well-documented and self-admitted womanizing. I’ve included two video excerpts from A & E’s biographical account of John McCain. Suffice it to say that the piece includes the following paraphrased descriptors when referencing the Arizona senator.

He spent his time cruising for girls.

He was a rebel who broke the rules.

He was the class delinquent, a partier, a bad student…always on the edge of expulsion.

His was the life of a free-wheeling jet jockey…drinking, chasing women, and living the life of a playboy.

Within a year and a half of his return from Vietnam, he resumed his old ways as a playboy…drinking, carousing, and having affairs.

The 42 year old ladies man decided to run for office a year after moving to Arizona with his new wife and former mistress.

Let me be clear…I don’t believe a candidates sex life necessarily negates their capabilities to be an effective elected official. Yes, the deceit and dishonesty is troubling, but I challenge anyone to take a moment and consider their own co-workers who have engaged in extramarital activities. I doubt many of us can conclude that their infidelity directly impacted their ability to fulfill the duties of their employment. While it’s reasonable to revile the cheating, its relevance to one’s occupational acumen is rarely substantiated.

I suspect the same is true with regards to John Edwards and John McCain…just as it was with Bill Clinton. The fact that campaign surrogates seek to capitalize upon our disdain for such behavior is to be expected. In Hannity’s case, I suspect he’s a victim of his own pompous pabulum. Fortunately, our own emotional maturity ought to instruct us to proceed with caution. If Hannity wants to drive the bias bus off the cliff, so be it.

(more…)

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |

On The John Edwards Affair – The Stop & Stare Society

The fact that John Edwards engaged in an extramarital affair rightfully leads us to question his honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, our fascination with these examples of human frailty is also evidence of our own proclivity to engage in denial and double standards.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

It’s common knowledge that car accidents cause traffic jams…even after the vehicles involved have been moved to the shoulder of the road. I’ve often wondered what causes us to slow down and gaze out our windows as we pass by. Is it out of concern for the passengers or is it some morbid curiosity as to the carnage?

As I’ve pondered the possibilities, the first image that comes to mind is a herd of zebras, standing and staring with ears perked, as the lion they’ve just eluded puts the finishing clench upon the zebra that didn’t get away. What makes a herd of animals suddenly stop to watch, as their comrade becomes an unwilling victim of the food chain, moments after running frantically for their lives?

If you’re wondering where I’m going with this rather morbid musing, I’ve been looking for a way to make sense of our fascination with John Edwards’ admission that he engaged in an extramarital affair. Let me be clear…I’m troubled by the deceit that preceded the revelation…but I’m more troubled by our seeming inability to focus upon the underlying issues.

You see, John Edwards may be unique in having had the opportunity to run for president of the United States, but his affair puts him on a par with the majority of the American public. The fact that we stop to gawk at him underscores our similarity to a herd of zebras, while our holier-than-thou looks of disdain uncover our propensity for self-forgiving double standards.

As we approach the November election, we’re being confronted by the all too familiar rhetoric that same-sex marriage is threatening to destroy the family. Frankly, this is a manufactured issue that serves the purposes of politicians and preachers and serves as a distraction from what actually ails the family. Truth be told, the preoccupation with same-sex marriage and the affairs of others is the equivalent of watching the zebra in the grasp of the lion. It gives us something to look at while counting our blessings that we avoided capture…not by the lion…but by the discovery of our own undisclosed indiscretions.

Yes, I’ve long argued that gays should be entitled to the same marriage rights afforded to heterosexuals…but I’ve also argued that the institution is at best broken. In fact, I suspect that it is, in its current form, contrary to human nature. In saying as much, I’m not suggesting that we eliminate marriage. At the same time, I’m in favor of beginning the process of an honest assessment of the expectations we attach to our marriages and, therefore, the manner in which they’re created…and dismantled.

Yes, I’m embarking upon an unpopular task that mimics the myth of Sisyphus…but then again…so are most of the individuals who choose to marry. If we admit that pushing the rock over the pinnacle is the equivalent of perfection, we should quickly understand the reason for Sisyphus’ perpetual failure…as well as our own with regard to marriage.

Look, the human heart is fragile…it can fall as fast as it can harden…and in that dichotomy is revealed the precarious nature of love…as well as the inability to predict its path. While the mind can promise the heart, the heart cannot always be expected to abide. That’s a reality we prefer to ignore…until someone’s heart is broken.

Where we miscalculate is in our expectations of ourselves and others…antecedent to our marriages as well as the moment at which we recognize the one we’re in is broken. In each of these moments, rather than acknowledge our human nature, we demand that another defy their own in order to protect the fragility of ours…and visa versa. Yes, this works well on the front end…but it fails miserably at the other.

In many ways, we humans are victims of our own success. In that it provided us with more choices and greater flexibility, it has also diminished our dependence on each other as well as the affiliations we believe we’ll need to form in order to survive (make a living, raise a family, etc). Hence, marriage is no longer the essential sociological glue it used to be. While necessity may be the mother of invention, the lack of necessity has allowed us to reinvent our understandings of the roles we play as mothers…and fathers. As such, we’ve reached the point at which one can choose to be either without the requirement of the other.

On the other hand, this freedom may also provide us with the opportunity to choose our partners absent many of the historical calculations and contrivances. Unfortunately, our actions with regards to relationships seem to lack the full awareness of the evolving terrain. At the same time, there are those who experience this changing dynamic as anxiety which leads them to recoil and call for a return to conventionalism. Unfortunately, rolling back progress is akin to rolling our mythical rocks over the pinnacle. Sadly, the time spent doing so simply detracts from the time we can spend adapting and adjusting our relationships (and the expectations we bring to them) to the current paradigm.

It’s time to admit that the idyllic image of marriage, invoked by those who claim to be its protectors, is no longer the nature of the institution. That which no longer exists cannot be preserved. Notwithstanding, the painfully natural, though imperfect, human emotions that facilitated the creation of marriage will remain…and they warrant our awareness and our embrace. Were we to refocus our efforts upon understanding the essence of these emotions, and establishing our expectations accordingly, perhaps the next announcement of an indiscretion could be met with introspective analysis rather than preoccupied projections.

When the voyeurs are enthralled in watching the lion lay waste to the zebra, the bonds that connect them with those they love are left unattended…hanging perilously exposed…ever ready to attach themselves to the first heart that has taken the time to acknowledge, accept, and allow its innate humanity to flourish. When this happens, the heart of the voyeur is apt to be crushed…not by the lion…but by the weight of its own untenable judgments.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Saturday, August 9th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |

John Edwards Admits Affair

Hero worship is a very tricky thing, because when heroes tumble off the pedestal due to their own weaknesses, those who engage in the worship end up feeling betrayed, befuddled, sad, and angry.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Details here.

Well, there goes this news cycle. The Republic of Georgia and Russia are at each other’s throats, and both have nukes. al-Sadr says he’ll disarm his militias if an Iraq withdrawal timeline is in place for the U.S. Serial adulterer John McCain said something today. Fannie Mae’s losses on bad mortgages are triple original estimates.

Yet this evening, the lead news story will be that former Dem presidential candidate John Edwards, after months and weeks of hounding by a celebrity obsessed media, has admitted to an extra-marital affair. He flatly denied the rumors that he fathered a child during the affair, but still.

A couple of emotions come to mind.

I’m sad about this, because I was and am a very firm believer in the issues on which John and Elizabeth Edwards have led, especially since his first run for the presidency in 2004. I’m further saddened because no doubt their voices will now become silent. They have more important things to attend to.

I’m disappointed – no, hopping damn mad – about this, because I’ve been a supporter since 2004. He’s received my very vocal support, as well as financial contributions. I don’t know how, in this day and age of Enquirization of every high profile person’s private life, that Edwards could expect his affair would remain private and secret. Let’s think for a moment. What if he had actually succeeded in his presidential run this year? Was this high octane trial lawyer so naive that he didn’t think that the bottom dwellers in the GOP would not have dug this up at some point, either before or after the Democratic convention? Jeebus. The collateral damage to Democratic Party candidates up and down the ticket would have been horrendous.

Most of all, I mourn for the causes that he so passionately supports, because those causes have now lost a significant voice (at least in the short term).

John Edwards and his family will survive this personal crisis, but we’re all poorer for the very public airing that his indiscretion will receive.

On the positive side, the other John (McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee) should probably be concerned about the increased scrutiny which his own personal past might now receive.

Update: A comment on Eschaton:

Am I to understand that Russia invaded a small neighbor today and yet the big story is that a democratic politician not currently holding office had an affair? Do I have it right that a book was released this week in which a Pulitzer prize winning author made the claim that the white house forged a document to help push us into war in Iraq and the big story is john edwards?

I’ll be over here banging my head against the wall. Don’t mind me.
Neponset | 08.08.08 – 6:42 pm | #

Indeed.

Friday, August 8th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: John Edwards

John Edwards: “Ask Me! Ask Me?”

Since suspending his own presidential campaign, John Edwards has been making all the right noises and doing all the right things in terms of advancing his own agenda – dealing with poverty in America. Maybe he’d still like to be Obama’s VP selection, but there might be better uses of Edwards’ vast, progressive talents. Think “Al Gore”, only on social issues, rather than global warming.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

One of the more potentially intriguing things to me about an Obama administration (not putting the cart before the horse or anything…) would be finding out where John Edwards fits into the mix. Speculation is once again swirling that, after initially discounting his desire for the Veep spot, he’s publicly lobbying the Obama camp for consideration:

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards said here on Monday that he would “seriously” consider being Barack Obama’s running mate, if asked. “Anything that I’m asked to do by Senator Obama, either as a presidential candidate or as the next president of the Untied States, I would take seriously and seriously consider,” said Edwards…

In the closing weeks of the Democratic Party primary battles, when Barack Obama needed to “seal the deal”, John Edwards very publicly announced his endorsement of the now-presumptive nominee. Whether or not there was an expectation on Edwards’s part of quid pro quo, there’s little question that if Obama makes it to the White House, John Edwards will play a prominent role in the administration. The thing is, I’m not even sure that the VP spot is the best place for his wealth of political, legal, and social issues talent.

Attorney General, anyone? Or perhaps he could have even more impact as the “Al Gore” of poverty and healthcare issues, outside of the line of fire of politics?

(h/t to SPK at Agonist, who has more on the story…)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 by Richard Blair |

The Politics of Humanity and the Death of Tony Snow

Tony Snow died today. He experienced a long battle with cancer, and still managed to sling the conservative propaganda with the best of them. While it’s impossible to praise his enabling of the Bush administration’s agenda, I will note his humanity – and compassion – when it mattered.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Tony SnowMore often than not, during his 17 month tenure as White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow pissed me off. When the conservative anchor-haired mouthpiece from Fox News was selected to head the Bush propaganda team, most of us on the liberal side of politics rolled our eyes. It was perfect. Fox News now had one of their own on the inside (not like they didn’t before, anyway).

But in some ways, Snow was the perfect foil for the Bush administration. He could argue a circular, losing point with the best of the BushCo apologists. And smile while doing it. And make you believe that he believed what he was saying (even when he was called out on slinging bullshit). In other words, he was the propaganda minister that George Bush had been missing. Ari Fleisher was just a glib little prick. Scott McClellan was a dufus in the role. But Tony Snow fit like a glove, and believe it or not, I think that Snow sort of defined the phrase, “compassionate conservative”.

Why would I posit such a non-progressive viewpoint? On the occasion of Tony Snow’s passing, I’m reprinting a short piece (just after the jump) that I wrote last year after Elizabeth Edwards announced that her own cancer had returned… (more…)

Saturday, July 12th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Elizabeth Edwards Discusses “Presidential Idol”

As this season’s installment of Presidential Idol continues, Elizabeth Edwards checks in with a New York Times op-ed that laments the superficial media coverage of the real issues that confront Americans. While Mrs. Edwards hits the nail squarely on the head, and will be applauded on both the left and right, her frustration comes out about 8 months too late…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

If there’s one great lamentation that I have about John Edwards no longer being in the Democratic Party primary sweepstakes, it’s that we don’t get to see or hear much from his wife, Elizabeth. She’s a true national treasure, and would have been a wonderful First Lady.

This morning the NYT published an op-ed from Mrs. Edwards which blasts the legacy media coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign. And though her words will certainly ring true with progressives (and even many conservatives), unfortunately, she’s not covering any new ground.

For the most part, press reporting on campaigns in both the Democratic and Republican parties has been as shallow (and as annoying) as a bad bowling score. While I think that we’re all conditioned to expect the 30 second soundbite in candidate commercials, anyone who truly wants to make a more informed decision based on actual policy positions will simply not get the information they need from either print or broadcast legacy media outlets.

There are three key issues on which most Americans will be basing their decisions when electing the next president:

- Healthcare (Obama, Clinton, McCain)
- The U.S. economy (Obama, Clinton, McCain)
- The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Obama, Clinton, McCain)

The above links provide more information on each of the candidate’s positions on these three top issues than anyone will receive in 18 months of campaign rhetoric and press coverage. And yes, Elizabeth, it’s indeed depressing. She writes:

News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve…

“Engaged”? The legacy media controllers have been infinitely more fixated on Presidential Idol. “Skeptical”? How can the legacy media be skeptical when they’re snarfing down BBQ and beer at John McCain’s place?

While we can certainly appreciate Mrs. Edwards’ concerns, and applaud her for raising the issue of superficial press coverage on the New York Times op-ed pages, it would have been a whole lot more strategic (and impactful) had she spoken out back when the heathers in the media were spending more time on the phony issue of her husband’s haircuts than his positions on healthcare. But of course, had she spoken out when John was still in the race, no doubt she would have been characterized as “shrew-ish” on those same op-ed pages.

Sunday, April 27th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Opening The Files: 10/31/07

It was Hillary Pillory at the latest Dem debate.

Commentary By: The Xsociate

The Not So Thrilla in Phila.

The Democrats held a debate last night in Philadelphia, yet another in the seemingly endless pre-pre-season horse race. For some live blogging of the main event check in with native Philadelphian Will Bunch, with more observations at Josh’™s and Kevin’™s.

Pretty much all day yesterday, the inside the Beltway media was breathless with speculation about whether Barack Obama would begin to poke some sharpened elbows at his front runner rival Hillary Clinton. But aside from a few jabs at her wishy washy record and a dated Rocky reference, the Thrilla from Illa(nois) failed to land any knock out blows.

That is not to say that Clinton wasn’™t the proverbial punching bag in the debate. She took a bruising for her waffling on driver licenses for illegal immigrants. Was pelted for her votes on Iraq and Iran. But despite the barrage, I have a feeling that Hilla will come through this, especially considering that the GOPers seem to have already singled her out as the opponent to beat. And really, as harsh as some of the things said about Clinton were last night, they are nothing compared to what has been and no doubt will be said about her by the Repubs.

Some other notable moments: Joe Biden got the biggest applause for a dig at Rescue Rudy for his limited vocabulary. Dennis Kucinich once again made calls for impeachment but because he also claims to have seen a UFO, that means no one should take him seriously. At least MSNBC had the good sense to forgo any overly long cutaway shots of Mrs. Kucinich.

Hunter lists reasons to be freaking sick of pre-primary season.

Michael Roston says that some of the digs at Hillary seemed more befitting of a Three Stooges routine.

Booman tells us some of the new things he learned.

And Walter Shapiro says that some of the dueling Dems appear to have sharpened their rapiers and are looking to draw some primary colors out of Hillary.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 by Richard Blair |