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Friday, June 03, 2011

John Edwards indictment

I was a little surprised that the Justice Department decided to pursue a criminal case against Edwards, who's accused of using campaign contributions for personal expenses (payments to his mistress and mother of his child, Rielle Hunter).  I've heard a number of commentaries that suggest this indictment is unfair and a waste of time.  Joe Scarborough, who's hardly a Democratic shill, suggested it was unnecessary to indict someone whose political career is over, especially since there are plenty of people whose misbehavior is effecting current political races.

I also heard an exchange on Tell Me More between Michele and one of the "barber shop" guys where she said something like "When someone throws you a lifeline, you don't really care who they are" [meaning that it was worth overlooking some pecedillos because of Edwards' advocacy for poverty issues], but her guest said that "everything in his life was a lie" so we couldn't take his advocacy as sincere. 

I actually think this is an important issue  . . . I've noticed for some time that it's very difficult to influence voters by a legitimate discussion of a candidate's positions on issues, partly because voters don't really understand issues.  Also the candidates make generic statements in favor of the Constitution, and "middle class families" and "jobs" and so on, so it's hard to distinguish the MEANS they plan to use to get to the ENDS that they all support.  So one of the only ways to really influence voters' perceptions of legislators and candidates is to catch them in some scandal or misbehavior.  And I think this radio comment is making an important point about this phenomenon - that our disappointment in their personal behavior translates into an invalidation of their political principles, though in reality, the two have nothing to do with each other.  Also, many politicians escape that effect - case in point is Bill Clinton, who clearly behaved very badly in his personal life, and yet many people still admire his political principles and accomplishments.



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