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June 24, 2009

Jim McGreevey, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, John Ensign, Mark Sanford : The Crowded Rehab Space

Spitzer : In Before the Haircut

In my recent post, The Unfortunate Rehabiliation of Eliot Spitzer, I speculated as to the timing of Spitzer's rehab campaign. I concluded that the economic crisis was a rich opportunity for Spitzer to demonstrate his expertise, and that he chose to act before (former Senator) John Edwards filled the rehab space and got the works all smarmy.

The Crowded Rehabilitation Space

Spitzer's timing was impeccable. Last week, John Edwards launched the first major salvo of his Trail of Tears Comeback Tour. Edwards went about the whole thing in a more cunning, savvy way than Spitzer. Edwards never did the Confession-With-Wife photo opportunity; those pictures last forever on the internet, and really preclude any return to the game - which is what the whole thing is really about. They're not seeking Rehabiliation or Remission, they're seeking a Return With Benefits (RWB).

Edwards also designed his campaign more like a true battle plan. First he sent his cancer-stricken wife out to soften the opposition with a book tour. Truly a courageous man, he sent her out alone to face questions like, "Do your children have a sister?" (start at time 6:38) It's a shame they're not calling for new chapters for Profiles In Courage.

Let's talk about John Edwards. He denied he had a relationship, he denied they had a child, he denied that he was in the photo. When they announced his affair, they wrapped it in the story of his wife's returned cancer. Happily, her cancer has not affected her book tour. What a move!

After Mrs. Edwards softened up the media and took all the first blows on her own, John Edwards arranged to give an exclusive interview to the Washington post on the condition that they not ask anything about his downfall. What a move!

The article, Hope From a Humbler Perch, portrays Edwards as "post-scandal", "humbler", and "re-purposed" in the sub-headline. That's a powerful sub-head.

Slate's Mickey Kaus writes,
... (Alec) MacGillis also buries a solid lede: The last web page of his piece features an impressive, reported survey of broken Edwards promises to various actual impoverished Americans--scholarship programs cancelled, Katrina foreclosure cases unaided--complete with victim quotes. Who was the editor who decided to call this piece "Hope from a Humbler Perch" instead of, say, "In Defeat, Edwards Left String of Broken Promises"?

Humbler, saintly John offers the Washington Post these self-serving platitudes:
"The two things I'm on the planet for now are to take care of the people I love and to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves."

"If you were to ask people during the campaign who's talking most about poverty, it was me. There's a desperate need in the world for a voice of leadership on this issue. . . . The president's got a lot to do, he's got a lot of people to be responsible for, so I'm not critical of him, but there does need to be an aggressive voice beside the president."

He thinks "every day" about what form his future role in activism or public life could take, but "right now, a lot of that is unanswerable." ... [snip]

If I can help the most by working quietly, that's what I'll do. If as time goes by I can be more helpful with a public role, that's what I will do.

The Washington Post, which used to discover and cover politician's foibles (Watergate) now seems to be craving the rehabilitation niche - they've given positive experiences to both Spitzer and Edwards.

Edwards has taken the field and conducted his first two Rehab Rounds in a relative vacuum. He's probably waiting for a noble opportunity to serve to present itself. He might need to wait until Eliot Spitzer completely redeems himself, which is well underway.

Fortunately, John Edwards completed his second round before Senator John Ensign announced that he'd dallied with a woman subordinate from his office (a high-school classmate of Mrs. Ensign and the wife of another subordinate). He's apologized to - wait for it, wait for it - the Senate for his poor judgement. He may be a victim himself, we're told. John Edward's timing is perfect.

Then, to really reinforce Edwards' lucky timing, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford returned from hiking the Appalachian Trail enjoying a wilderness adventure visiting his "dear, dear friend" in Argentina. Governor Sanford has forthrightly acknowledged he's "going to be in the recovery process for quite a while", and has resigned from - wait for it, wait for it - a self-help committee of Republican governors.

All Have Sinned and Fall Short....

(link) Lest I seem a moralist, let me attempt to make my point: I really don't care that these married people had affairs. I don't care if they prefer men, women, or combinations. They made mistakes, and that's what people do. Their children, families, and lives will suffer but personally - I truly don't care. There's clearly a lot of these folks on both sides of the aisle, politicians and preachers, and they (and their spouses) would be an interesting study.

I care that they lack the character to withdraw from public life.
I care that they continue to take public money.
I care that they assume that their political redemption is assured.
I care that America is selecting leaders of poor calibre.
I really prefer the way Mr. Profumo handled himself, in a similar situation.

Abraham, Martin, John & Bobby they're not

Obligatory Pittsburgh Sports Metaphor - -
They're not Tinkers to Evers to Chance, either



Mark Sanford said...

I am a huge Michael Jackson fan.

Inspector Clouseau said...

There is a very simple reason why disgraced politicians should immediately resign no matter what the offense, or the talent they may possess which could benefit society: in this partisan, acrimonious, political environment in which we currently live, and at this point in time in our nation’s evolution, any elected official needs as much support from his constituency which he or she can gather. After the offense, that support base will undoubtedly diminish, and render their service less effective.

As for resignation, you might check out this.

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