I Can’t Help Myself, Politico Edition

I know, you guys, I know it’s all link-baiting and that my giving them traffic just helps them WIN THE MORNING and WIN THE AFTERNOON, but COME THE FUCK ON:

Over the past few weeks, the world has learned quite enough about
John Edwards – from the lies he told in trying to cover up an
adulterous affair to the compulsive vanity that left some people close
to him questioning his judgment and even his grip on reality.

Democrats who seriously considered making Edwards the party’s 2008
presidential nominee could be forgiven for asking: Now you tell us?

The revelations about Edwards, contained in two best-selling books,
have undermined one of the favorite conceits of political journalism,
that the intensive scrutiny given candidates by reporters during a
presidential campaign is an excellent filter to determine who is fit
for the White House.

First of all, I don’t think anybody’s believed that in at least 10 years, possibly more. Second, I have yet to see anything about John Edwards that convinces me that he wasn’t unfit for the presidency, by the standards to which we hold modern Republicans, that is. Unable to control his schween? Megalomaniacal? Out of touch with reality? If only he’d been named something reptilian, like Skink or … wait, I know, NEWT! Then he’d have been set.

While the media “usually does well” in vetting candidates, said
presidential historian Michael Beschloss, “Edwards is a good case” in
which it didn’t.

And that failure is worrisome in a changed political world where
politicians – be they Barack Obama or Sarah Palin – can burst upon the
national stage and seemingly overnight become candidates for higher

Isn’t it amazing how that can happen? It can just happen. Nobody makes it happen, or lets it happen, or controls its happening. It just happens. Such a changed political world, this one in which Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are equally un-vetted candidates for higher office who simply “burst upon the national stage.” All on their own.

Those staffers are the ones who should be held accountable, Marc
Ambinder wrote in response to the question he posed on The Atlantic’s
website: “Should Edwards Aides Be Shamed And Blamed?”

“It’s your responsibility to quit the campaign and not enable it,” he
wrote. “If you enable it, you are responsible in some ways for the
fallout. Your loyalty isn’t an excuse for that.”

How about this: Should the political press which gave more of a collective fuck about how and where and how many times Edwards was schtupping his girlfriend than about how and where Edwards launched his presidential campaign (surrounded by people working their asses off in NOLA, in case anybody was blinded by all the peen coverage and forgot) be shamed and blamed? I’d be more proud if one of my kids worked for Edwards, for example, than worked for Politico.

The failure to follow up aggressively on the reporting by the National
Enquirer, which has nominated itself for a Pulitzer Prize for its
Edwards coverage,
has served as fodder for conservatives and others
convinced the media has a double standard when it comes to vetting
Democrats and Republicans.

Emphasis mine. Superior, classist fucks. Everybody nominates themselves for the Pulitzer Prizes. It’s how you get nominated for any journalism prize: Your boss puts your clips in an envelope and sends them off with a letter. It’s not like somebody else does it for you. I’m no fan of the NE by any means but that’s just cheap, coming from a “news” organization that hosts a political blog called theMorning Score.

Still, simply because the media missed the affair doesn’t mean Edwards
wasn’t given scrutiny as a candidate. Throughout 2007, there was a
series of reports that undermined the image that Edwards had sought to
project by contrasting his populist rhetoric and focus on poverty with
the reality of a candidate with hedge fund ties and $400 haircuts.

“I thought we did a pretty good job back in ‘07,” said Washington Post
reporter Alec MacGillis, “to the point where we were getting a lot of
complaints from them.”

Yeah. Nothing like stories about how much someone’s haircut cost to really take the fight to the enemy. Hot damn, Washington Post! You stay on it! In fact, the entire Politico wankfest only really mentions one story that directly undermines any of Edwards’ politics. The rest is haircuts and trashy sex, and if that’s our disqualification for being president, well, goddamn, Grover Cleveland has some things to answer for.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it would suck to be married to John Edwards, and I understand a lot of people feel personally betrayed for having supported a douchebag like this and I can’t say they’re wrong to feel that way. And the rules work how they work: A Democrat cannot get his extramarital fuck on and buy expensive shit and be taken seriously, it’s just not possible. But that doesn’t mean the rules as they currently work aren’t utter bullshit. Plenty of people who are good at their jobs are assholes, and I’ve seen very little in any of these teeth-gnashing pieces about how stupid Democrats were for liking Edwards (which is really the undercurrent of the whole thing, that all the voters were morons who were taken in) that convinces me he would have been anywhere near as crappy a president as he was a husband.


5 thoughts on “I Can’t Help Myself, Politico Edition

  1. Like you said, the media doesn’t report on either side of the aisle.
    Unfortunately, we’re in a world where you market the image / brand name. The reality of the situation isn’t interesting. (Look at Toyota commercials telling us how they take great care with every safety complaint that they ignored for a decade.). I wonder if Mark Sanford would have gotten the same coverage if he hadn’t a) made up a ridiculous cover story and b) had an international affair.
    I am surprised with Edwards, however, that a sexual encounter wasn’t reported on (or even more, after the rumors, there wasn’t any follow up reporting). That is hot gossip stuff!

  2. MLK fucked around too. Progressives didn’t decide that made him an unfit scumbag.
    But Obama can authorize hit squads and threaten to gut social security, and he’s a member in good standing.
    It has nothing to do with what you do and everything to do with who you serve.

  3. Well, Bush’s candidacy is instructive. Reiterated over and over and over again by the press just how gosh darn likable he was, what a good sense of humor, just like the next-door neighbor you’d like to have a beer with, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.
    And yet, in actuality, he was a deeply resentful, spoiled little shit who had fucked up everything he tried in life, largely because his “gut instincts” were always wrong, and because his ego was far larger than either his intellect or his curiosity. One of the things that comes through in Alexandra Pelosi’s campaign film about him is that all of his worst attributes were there all along, for anyone to see, if only they wished to see them, but they chose not to see, because Bush was just so goddamned happy to be the center of attention, and the press chose to take that for gregariousness.
    The upshot of it is that presidential campaigns are still reported on as if they’re high-school popularity contests, which is why we so often end up with people with good hair and teeth and not much else. Policy of sound-bite length gets mentioned, but, it’s all about who does the presslike. Look at the way Gore got treated compared to the guy in the cowboy boots who was always cracking wise…

  4. And that failure is worrisome in a changed political world where politicians – be they Barack Obama or Sarah Palin – can burst upon the national stage and seemingly overnight become candidates for higher office.
    Barack Obama made the keynote speech at the fucking 2004 Democratic National Convention. It wasn’t a secret that he would be in the mix for 2008 at all. He didn’t “burst upon the national scene.” More false equivalence bullshit.
    Now that that’s out of the way, I can get to this:
    I’m so sick of all the one-sided penis attention, too. And you know what’s struck me about this? It’s the implicit admission that Republicans are just shitty people. Why do we care about what Clinton/MLK/Edwards/generic Democrat does with his dong, while we don’t care about what Larry Craig/Newt Gingrich/every fucking Republican ever does with his?
    Because of the perception of hypocrisy. According to our stupid, stupid meta-narrative, anyone who is trying to do anything at all to benefit anyone else is required to be completely beyond reproach, or all of that person’s efforts are hypocritical.
    No, it doesn’t make any fucking sense, but that’s the narrative that we have. We don’t care about the actual hypocrisy of paying attention to and regulating other people’s sex lives while engagning in all sorts of libidinous pleasures. We accept that. But if you try to do right by somebody else? Brother, you better be squeaky clean.
    But think about that for just a minute. Buried in that stupid narrative is the following implication: We (societally speaking) know that Republicans are shitty, awful people only concerned with what they can take. So we aren’t surprised when they turn out to be less than enthusiastic about the sanctity of marriage, or the abomination of homosexuality, or whatever.
    I think we can use that to our advantage.
    Finally, A., I believe you unfairly malign reptiles. A newt is an amphibian. Of course, Newt (the man) is an affront to all carbon-based life, so his existence shames us all, irrespective of where we perch on the tree of life.

Comments are closed.