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Sunday, June 3, 2012

How Wrong is Wrong?

Hey all, back with this week's post.

This past week, we saw yet another disgraced politician show up in Court to answer for what may have been a criminal act.  John Edwards, a man who stooped low enough to (a) cheat on his wife while she was dying; (b) impregnated his mistress; and (c) lied about it, was found not guilty on one count of campaign finance fraud, and received a hung jury on the remaining five counts. 

Once again, we have been reminded that while there are bad things, wrong things, and actions comprising complete and utter assholery that are committed by those who should know better, some of them are not crimes.  Although the Government did a good job smearing the filth and mud all over Mr. Edwards during this trial, so bad that even his daughter couldn't bear to hear it, it still didn't prove that he violated campaign finance laws.  The issue was, did he receive campaign contributions, which must be reported to the SEC and used only for the campaign itself, in an amount that exceeded statutory limts to fly Miss Rielle and the baby back and forth across the country to hide from the press.  And according to some of the jurors, the answer was, "maybe, but they didn't prove it."

We live in a democracy that values rights and liberties over criminality.  The states are granted the police power to enact penal statutes and enforce them.  In this case, where the issue involves interstate commerce and/or campaigns for national office, Congress is entitled to enact laws, and the SEC has the power to prosecute violations of those laws.  However, Congress cannot criminalize adultery, and it remains to be seen whether the state of North Carolina, or wherever he and his mistress had their trysts, does.

(As a point of reference, adultery is a Class B misdemeanor in New York, punishable by up to 90 days in jail.  However, it is rarely, if ever, prosecuted, because most District Attorneys have bigger fish to fry, and because it is already effective enough to use as grounds for divorce).

John Edwards will remain a free man, since it appears that the Government will most likely not attempt a retrial on the five hung charges.  Since this is not as much of a slam-dunk as the Blagojevich trial, they would do well to save taxpayer money on more compelling cases.

That being said, he is also a marked man.  How can he return to politics?  Who would vote for him?  Who would be forgiving enough to get past the betrayal of a dying wife?  And how can he return to prosecuting medical malpractice cases as a plaintiff's attorney?  What credibility would he now have with a jury anywhere? 

Thankfully, he did earn millions for himself in legal fees as a courtroom dynamo before he entered politics.  He still has children, some from his late wife and one from his mistress, that need his support.  However, where can he go, other than college bars filled with young honeys, to get any amount of respect?

Probably nowhere.  Someone like Bill Clinton, who was nearly removed from office due to dishonesty relating to his own extramarital affair, can be forgiven, can still survive, and can still be respected.  The fact that his wife is still living, and still married to him, certainly helps.  John Edwards, however, is no Bill Clinton.  He is merely a southern plaintiffs' lawyer with the swagger and style of a young Matlock, who knowingly stepped into a large pile of refuse because he assumed that he could merely scrape it off his foot and leave it for an all-to-willing volunteer to soil his own shoes with it.

So now, all John Edwards need do for us is to exit stage left.  We already know that he needs to ask forgiveness for his sins.  The problem is that the only one he should ask forgiveness from has departed this realm, knowing that she was betrayed. 

We may wonder whose death was worse -- Elizabeth Edwards' or Mary Kennedy's?  Apparently RFK Jr. did nothing illegal -- it's not his fault he was born a Kennedy, he just preferred not to stop living like one.  Still, he and Edwards are both guilty of leaving women to die with broken hearts. 

We men may have had unsuccessful relationships with women, but let's please remember that they are just as human as we are.  Just as flawed, just as imperfect, and just as mortal.  I'm not saying you should run out and send a candy-gram to an ex -- that's not not appropriate.  But just the same, think about how you would feel if your last conversation with someone involved hurting them deeply, and then it became too late to apologize.

Have a good week, all.