ZOMFG, I cannot believe the orgies of self-righteousness that are flooding Left Blogistan (and, for all I know or care, Right Blogistan as well) at the news that John Edwards has admitted to having an affair. I may well stay offline for the next few days, just to avoid the inevitable nausea and the concomitant rise in my blood pressure these discussions are likely to bring.
Hypocrisy abounds. The lefties are all propping themselves up on their fainting couches and declaring, breathlessly, their undying satisfaction that the voters had pushed John Edwards off the stage before this revelation of the cheesy was made public. This despite the fact that progressives are normally in favor of letting consenting adults make up their own minds about what they may do--and with whom, and in what circumstances--in private. Apparently that principle doesn't apply to anyone seeking public office, lest his peccadilloes (or hers) should cost us electoral victory--as if winning an election really matters when you've already sold your soul to get it. And the righties, I'm sure, are gloating and chortling to themselves at the thought of yet another liberal's demonstrating how little they care for the family values the Republicans all claim to love and honor--even as they are driven to their next appointment with their dominatrix, or sidling off to the nearest airport bathroom for yet another furtive tryst.
I would ask at what point Americans had lost their minds if it weren't for the sad fact that, at least as far as sex and related matters are concerned, we've never been compos mentis in all of our history--at least as far as I can determine. Historically, we've always been a randy bunch--with the doors closed, anyway. Publicly, on the other hand, we've always liked to think of ourselves as upright and moral--though the image that more readily comes to mind is that of the tight-lipped priss and the finger-wagging Puritan, à la Lord and Lady Whiteadder.
I don't presume to know what promises John and Elizabeth Edwards have made to one another, and neither is it my place to sit in judgement on what those promises might have been, or how they might have changed over the years. As long as they were mutually agreeable and agreeably mutual, I have no quarrel with them. Suppose, for argument's sake, that John Edwards did sneak behind his terminally ill wife's back to have sex with another woman whom, he says, he did not really love. That would certainly make him a cad, a boor, and would represent a serious failing on his part.
But show me, anywhere, any human being who hasn't made at least one major fuck-up in the course of his or her life. I'm reminded of something Jack Shea said some years back, talking about the need for forgiveness. He said, as best I remember it off the top of my head, that if we don't forgive one another we hold one another fast to that one mistake, that one flaw, that one failing. As long as I hold on to the mistake that you (or I) made, I can't get away from it and neither can you. That's not to say that forgiveness entails forgetting or ignoring an offense, or that it implies an attitude of "It's OK" toward the flaw, the mistake, or the failure. What it does, to quote Alice Camille and Paul Boudreau (The Forgiveness Book, ACTA), is to let the other off the hook, to create new life, and to move toward goodness. That was also, I thought, what it meant to be a progressive.