If people inside the Beltway knew the Edwards’s were phonies, and if the media and Washington’s political elite were running interference for Edwards upon, and well after the disclosure of his self-annihilating affair, the bottom line is not that John and Elizabeth are monsters. It’s that there is really no one to trust out there to slice through the “three bags full,” ten-layers of spin between the public and the steady stream of shallow, craven personalities infesting the political scene.
As I tweeted yesterday, I’ve got a problem with the comic book-style illustrations in New York Magazine’s adaptation from “Game Change,” John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s new book. If you haven’t read it by now, it will singe your fingers and steam clean your eyeballs in its likely justified, if thoroughly soap opera-style demolition of (Ego Monster) John and (Saint) Elizabeth Edwards.
Now that the couple has been exposed, however, instead of dismissing them as one-offs and demented, one-dimensional cartoon aberrations, why doesn’t NY Mag show them to us in full 3-D so we can actually look back and see how these neurotic power-trippers actually had us fooled in the first place?
Back in August of ’07, I was critical of a NYT article regarding presidential candidates and how much they should or shouldn’t be dragging their kids around on the campaign trail. Specifically (because, like so many other progressives, I was taken in by the Edwards “two Americas” message), I was harping on the reporter for focusing on tensions in the Edwards family.
In hindsight, though, knowing what we apparently know now about John as well as the supposedly equally egomaniacal Elizabeth, it’s especially interesting taking another look at the NYT video piece shot on the Edwards bus. When you watch, for example, notice:
The critical lesson here, however, is to avoid vilifying or pathologizing John and Elizabeth Edwards, then walking away. The point and the opportunity, instead (although lost on NY Mag), is to appreciate how much personality framing, propagated by the handlers and perpetuated by the media, makes it near impossible to see the true nature of flawed political actors across the board.
(illustrations: Nathan Fox for NY Magazine)