Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Devil's Advocate for the Adulterous Advocate

Your Next Lover - Lori McKenna (mp3)
A Girl in California - Nine Days (mp3)

I caught wind of John Edwards' daliances slightly ahead of the curve thanks to my regular visits to, a geeky little discussion + news site that posted this as it was starting to really percolate in late July. So I felt like friggin' Drudge when Edwards came out and shocked the world with his confession last week.

The reaction of acquaintances has been fairly surprising, to be honest. Shock, mostly. Edwards' infidelity has been a much larger surprise to (left-leaning?) people, it seems, than that of Wild Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, I'm like, The dude pays FOUR HUNDRED FRIGGIN' DOLLARS to get his friggin' hair cut! He spends as much on his hair per year as Spitzer spent on that prostitute. Any guy who loves his own hair that much is waaaay too full of himself to sleep exclusively with one woman.

But here are some other thoughts that have sprouted from the Edwards scandal:

Edwards said he has sought his wife's forgiveness and his God's forgiveness, and so he basically doesn't care what the rest of us think. Since it's hardly our business to begin with, I couldn't agree more. If you enjoy this story for its juicy context, or if you enjoy watching the overly ambitious and well-coiffed get their come-uppance, that's fine and good. But I'm kind of violently anti-TMZ and anti-paparazzi at the moment, and for me this is just a slightly higher-class version of celebrity rubbernecking I can do without. This really should be between him, his wife, and his deity of choice. Well, and the "other woman "who seems to have gotten a sweet-ass deal out of it.

If reporters gave a flip about my private life -- and if you thought The Truman Show was a boring concept, my daily existence is even more snooze-a-riffic -- and had the unmitigated gall to ask me if I was having affairs, or smoking crack, or surviving solely on a diet of Pop Tarts, Mountain Dew and Twizzlers, I'd like to think I could answer them in such a way that gave them nothing good yet amused me to no end.

If they ask and you say "No" because it's the truth, then you're only helping their cause, because they can then use you as an example of those who "have nothing to hide," allowing them to bring down that judgmental hammer harder on another's head. So I'd like to think I would say I'm sleeping with everyone. Kate Beckinsale. Ashley Judd. The whole cast of The Golden Girls (except for Estelle Getty, of course, God rest her sweet soul). Tom Cruise. Barbara Bush (the older AND the younger). Say their names, I'm sleeping with them. And they're all just using me for the sex.

My point is, once Edwards screwed around, is he really obligated to, according to our society's odd little rules, confess it in detail to the first reporter to ask the oh-so original question of "Have you ever had an affair?" Is George W. Bush required to explain in great detail his past drug use or even admit he did cocaine just because some bonehead asks him? Are we really better off as a country if they tell the truth to us when it's none of our business?

In my book, if goobers with no right to do so ask anyone such questions, it's not lying to tell them whatever you want. "I sleep with Martians. We spoon, mostly, but sometimes we use toys on each other. I prefer Martian Menages after my Martian Massages. And if you've never been rubbed down by a Martian, you haven't truly lived!"

Our Puritanical society has somehow bought into the bullshit that you can't be a great politician without being a lily-white clean slate of perfect family values. Being outstanding or gifted in one area of life does not require being outstanding or gifted in another. That's like saying you can't be a great rock guitarist without sleeping with 40 women a year. Or that Donald Trump can't be successful in real estate unless he's also a devoted and loving father. It's so oddly unrealistic and foolish that I don't even know why we continue to allow this myth to propagate.

Almost every person I've heard pontificate on his infidelity says something akin to this: "And he couldn't have done it at a worse time. His wife is fighting for her life against cancer, and he's off fucking around! What a jerk!" First off, I wasn't aware there was a proper or acceptable time for adultery. Is there some space shuttle re-entry in adultery, where there's a few "perfect windows" in the atmosphere wherein it's acceptable and understandable for married folks to screw around?

Jimmy's always been a devoted husband and father, and although he slept with that drunk librarian two years ago, it was at a time when his wife was healthy and everything in his life was going well, so it was no big deal. If he'd fucked that librarian back when Shelly had been diagnosed with diabetes, well, that would have been another story... Then Jimmy would have been one disgusting sumbitch.

Let's go one step further. (Since my writing on this entire topic automatically qualifies me for the "Perhaps He Protesteth Too Much" Award, no point in leaving any stones unturned.)

Isn't it maybe a little more acceptable for the dude to seek his needs elsewhere at a time when his wife is utterly and completely incapable of being there for him? So long as Edwards didn't abandon his wife emotionally, so long as he was there in the ways she needed him, why isn't his shoplifting some pootie on the side more acceptable when Elizabeth is sick rather than when she's shiny and healthy as a pearl?

If one of you readers is willing, I would really appreciate you breaking down the Affair Scale for me. From 1-10, when's having an affair a 1 and when is it a 10? This might help all those readers out there who want to know when it's most acceptable to have an affair. If they're gonna be immoral, at least they can be considerate.

"Your Next Lover" is from Lori McKenna's super-mega-awesome album Unglamorous. "A Girl in California" is from Nine Days' latest EP, Slow Motion Life Part I. Both can be purchased through iTunes or on's mp3 site.


Bob said...

I want to know what he meant when he said that he had been telling 99% of the truth while he was denying the affair.

jbradburn said...

I want to know what he meant when he said that he had the affair in 2006 but was in another woman's room at 2 AM in the morning a couple of weeks ago.

I don't know - I've seen the media attack Bill Bennet for gambling, Larry Craig for his choices...And quite frankly, they were giving him a pass on this one until the National Enquirer basically caught him red handed (And don't think for a minute that the image conscious Edwards didn't plan his confession on the opening day of Olympics by accident.)

But let's face it - this is a huge story for some of us because its a little bit validation. Before his confession, I jokingly mentioned that most Edwards supporters I knew would have to see him on videotape beating and robbing a homeless man - because there was more than enough circumstantial evidence out there that this man was more than a bit disingenious. I guess all it took was him cheating on his wife.

I don't think that Americans are puritanical. I do think that they want to trust their politicians. When Slick Willy admitted that he had caused pain in his marriage - his issue went away. Of course, Slick Willy didn't market himself as a Messiah.

Also, there are lots of members of Congress who have had affairs in the past. We just don't want them recently - and we don't want them from someone claiming the moral high ground.

Bob said...

Even our beloved old guy John McCain married his very,very rich second wife a mere month after his divorce to his crippled first wife. By his own admission, he was cheating all over the place, but now he has a stable marriage, if only she would have competed to be Miss Cow Chip!