Sunday, May 20, 2012
Snide Goeth Before the Fall
When John Edwards' federal trial kicked off a month or so back, I was more than prepared to loathe him. After all, the former Senator hastened his wife's demise with an unseemly affair, a surprise love child and more lies and alibis than his staff could categorize. He played a doddering old widow for every dollar he could get, financing his fling with ill-gotten dollars while hectoring America about its conscience and poverty. Did I mention the sex tape he made with a self-avowed videographer? Yes, there are many reasons to hate on this tarnished golden boy. Not that I have much malice on tap. That takes energy I ain't got, not after perching atop a step-ladder as the planet's most vilified widower shuffles to and from his date with justice. All I could really work up is a case of distaste and even that was rooted more in my aching back than any sense of chivalry misspent. But a funny thing happened on the way to the whipping post. I started feeling sorry for the dude. Not full-on pity mind you, just a gnawing feeling in the back of my brain that the philandering candidate is taking it on his telegenic chin.
It's a feeling I first got Friday afternoon. By then the jury had deliberated for only an hour, but to the throbbing mosh pit of photographers stationed outside, the verdict loomed barely out of reach. The pieces were certainly in place. A podium stood at the top of the steps, ready to prop up any displays of grace. With cables splayed this way and that, the fleet of sat trucks idled in anticipation. Public stoning or tearful atonement, whatever was about to go down would soar to the heavens in righteous hi-def. You can imagine our surprise when the Marshall charged out of the building, insinuating to many they might want to man their fancycams. Seconds later, the reasons became clear when who else but Johnny Edwards rounded the corner of the federal courthouse, jaw firmly set, eyes scouring the middle distance. Seems he'd tired of waiting for the jury inside, so he'd stepped out of the back door and found the feds in charge wouldn't let him back in. He had to walk around to the front, where a living, breathing gauntlet hardened in the midday sun. When suddenly he did appear, those walls of glass began to crack.
Though most of us stayed atop our stools, several shooters broke away and rushed the once viable Vee-Pee pick. Edwards didn't make sound as the lenses moved in, his jaw remained set as the rude questions rained down. I myself was among the throng, though mostly to prevent my chief from backpedaling into traffic. Before I broke away though, I got a good look in John Edwards and to my consternation, his gaze remained hollow. What must be going on in that carefully coiffed head, I thought. Dude did wrong, no doubt about that. But this plunge from grace is picking up speed and I can't help but wonder how that loss in altitude feels to a man so staggered by his own swagger. Will I set down my camera and try to hug it out? Not unless I want to taste pavement. But I can no longer pretend the man is pure evil, for the last time I checked, we all fall short of the glory. Should John Edwards do time for his distasteful behavior? I'll wait for the jury foreman to clear his throat. Meanwhile, let he who is without sin cast the first update. Me, I got my hands full.
(Photo Courtesy of Jake Barlow)