Not that I read 'em or even believe 'em, but this week the tabloids--the National Enquirer to be precise--reported that John Edwards hit his wife, Elizabeth, whacked her, abused her, beat her. I don't know the best language. I wouldn't even repeat that charge if it weren't for the fact that the National Enquirer has been far more accurate about the sordid Edwards saga than any other news outlet.
Who knows? Given what we've already discovered about John Edwards, his trophy girl, and their love child, I doubt very little.
Some maladjusted rich kid from Africa tucks highly combustable materials in his underwear and tries to bring down a jet from Amsterdam to Detroit--on Christmas day. That's a story--no question. It's scary, really scary, not only for the people on that flight, but for all of us. After all, if the Islamic terrorists can exploit that one angry kid and turn him into a mass murderer, we knew darn well that the world is full of angry kids. How many more are in the pipeline? That's scary.
But here's what I'm thinking is even more scary. John Edwards is a VP candidate in these United States. He loses. Four years later, he positions himself to take the lead role--he's running for President. At the very same time, he's bedding some chick who's into taking his pictures. And when the Enquirer tells him as much, he lies, outdoes Clinton--perfectly straight-faced.
Finally, the mainstream media start smelling blood. "Is it true?" they say, but he denies again, his nose growing a lot longer than that instrument of his blessedly unrighteous glee.
Millions and millions of people, good people, some of them my friends, thought this lying sack of you-know-what was not only legitimate, but the kind of forceful leader who could deliver these United States from its migraines.
At the only Iowa democratic caucus I ever attended, I parted company with some good friends who went to Edwards' side while I went Obama's. I'm not saying I'm prescient. I'm sure some people reading these words believe I was just as deluded. I'm simply admitting my own fear about just how handsomely we all can be lied to.
Hitler was elected to office, voted in by the German people.
What scares the bejeebees out of me is the fact that John Edwards was, in all of this, a consummate liar, and millions simply believed him.
My right-wing friends will say that only liberals fell for his shenanigans, including his $200 haircut, but this old Calvinist doesn't much care for party politics. Besides, Edwards isn't the only pol who's been located between the sheets of a bed that isn't his--and most of them, as of late, have been big-time moralists from the right. Edwards isn't the only liar, but he was the one closest to being the leader of the free world.
We're capable of being hoodwinked, deluded, danced into deception. Nobody I know can't be led astray. The surgery required to separate dreams from reality is delicate and often as not beyond the means of every last one of us.
And that's why, at least to me, John Edwards is more scary than the underwear bomber.
I hate to think of it.
It's really hard to admit this, but I have to: this morning I'm thankful for the National Enquirer. Seriously.