Saturday, June 02, 2012

Bring in the Clowns

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for June 2,  2012

The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us.
                                                   Quentin Crisp.

            No matter how I try, it just keeps returning to the ridiculous.  With all those ruined lives, the whole, sad story should firmly remain in the realm of tragedy.  But like one of those Shmoo boppy toys, it keeps whipping back into farce.
            He was the golden boy; a wealthy, highly successful litigator, a poor boy from one America who now lived in the other America, a presidential candidate who gave a whole gaggle of Democratic hopefuls a run for their money.  John Edwards had it all.  
           And lost it all.  It’s a tale that should cause feelings of sad empathy, perhaps a moment of smug self-righteousness. But for me it all just keeps turning from a sad-faced tsk-tsk moment back into snort-through-the-nose laughter.
            I think it’s just the sheer wretched excess of it all.  This wasn’t a story of one man’s ego and libido getting the better of him in a moment of weakness.  This was epic!--  a traveling road-show that included a cast of players larger than “Cats” that turned the action into a Max Sennett comedy, all zippy rattle-trap cars whizzing up and down and back and forth while a speeding train crashes into a water tower.
            And somewhere along its sorry way, the tale passed the point of mini-gravitas and tipped into a clown car jammed full of fools, each more embarrassing than the other. 
            I mean . . . Rielle?  the hideous high-maintenance mistress, one of those Hollywood wannabes who was originally hired to make a series of “webisodes” of Edward’s campaign.  Between making stump speeches, shaking endless hands, and kissing babies, the two of them fell into bed.  The expensive video log Ms. Hunter made turned out to be so poorly shot it was unusable (Goodbye Hollywood), but the baby the two of them made in that hotel room stuck around (Hello Pampers).
            And had to be hidden from the ferociously ambitious and now-suspicious wife.
            Who was suffering from cancer.  Did I forget to mention that part?  
            Enter Andrew Young, the loyal lickspittle willing to fall on his sword by volunteering to claim that the child was his, which prompts a few moments of delight picturing how Mr. Young explained that baby’s existence to his own wife.  Cue the pie in the face.
            And best of all, this hugger-mugger traveling hide-the-baby Klown Karnival was financed by a loopy heiress, the fabulously wealthy  “Bunny” Mellon, and a couple of Edward’s rich lawyer pals, all of whom thought nothing of dropping over a million smackaroonies just to keep this ridiculous production on the road.
            And so it shambled on, wheels creaking, calliope booming, the dying wife raging, the whining mistress demanding shopping trips to Los Angeles, the golden coins pouring out of the purses and pockets of  the Sugar Daddies and Sugar Mommy Mellon, while the baby-hiding aide stopped feeling the love and started sulking and plotting his own cover-his-ass revenge.
            And above it all, the master juggler floated, the smiling, golden-haired Edwards.   Campaigning for President, then, when that wasn’t working, maneuvering to cut a deal to become the Veep.  No?  Well how’s about giving me some kind of high-powered State Dept. office? Astonishing. Brazen. Shameless.  Deluded.  Oblivious.
            Until the wheels came off.
            And the wife died, and Edwards sought absolution from the obligatory TV confession – My bad.  My bad.  My maxima culpa bad -- followed by a trial for political corruption (all that nice Mellon money), where even more grisly, cringe-worthy details spilled out.  And the poor jurors had to struggle with confusing, conflicting election laws filled to the Swiss-cheese brim with deliberately written convenient, wink-nudge loopholes.
            All of which should elicit sympathy, perhaps some sorrow.  A long face?  I mean, how much more can one man be humiliated?
            But there it is.  That stubborn snicker.  
            In classic literature, the downfall of the tragic hero should inspire fear and pity. But this wasn’t tragedy, it was comeuppance. Somewhere along the way this sorry saga passed melodrama and fell onto the banana peel of not guilty on one charge and a mistrial on the other five.   
            That the DOJ wasted a dump-truck load of tax dollars on a political corruption case in the era of  Citizens United and all our now-legal corrupt and corrupting Super PAC spending, well, that’s the biggest laugh of all.
            Cue the Whoopee Cushion.


Anonymous said...

you are the samuel pepys of our times.

and a LOT more funny and insightful.

been lovin' these last two stories.

reeeeeeeeally good.



Churadogs said...

. . . and so to bed. . .

A double-barreled laff-fest during hard times.

Sandra Gore said...

Make a great movie except it's too unbelievable. Cud never happen. Too over the top.

Anne R. Allen said...

You start with a Quentin Crisp quote and then get even better? Genius. This is the best thing I've read on the whole sad little Edwards mess. I wonder if you can send it to the HuffPo?

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget, Edwards was also famous for his use of Democratic money for his highfalutin $400 haircuts....

TCG said...

There is very, very little that politicians can get away with now if the news media gives them an honest vetting.

As an aside, I sure am getting tired of the presidential candidates' surragates, on both sides, demonizing the candidates to try and influence my vote. Just once, I would like to hear an honest and straight forward discussion by both candidates on what they think is going wrong, and what it really would take to fix those things. I don't expect that to happen, however. Aren't the super pacs great?

Churadogs said...

Anon: That $400 haircut is a pretty good indication at what's gone so wrong with our elections: Style over substance.

TCG: I agree, BUT The American People don't want honesty. Show me a presidential nominee who'll stand up on stage and say, "We need to extend Social Security taxes to all income brackets (i.e. raise the cut-off limit), close many, many tax loopholes, re-do and raise taxes on everyone to pay for all our Wars-on-the-Cheap and our deficit, and pass a War Tax, so all wars must be fully funded and part of the budget before the first soldier left town, repeal Citizens United, re-start Glass-Steagle and break up the big banks, create Medicare For All and dump the insurance companies except for fill-in stuff not covered by the basics, restructure how we deliver medical care (doctors paid for wellness, not by the piece, outcomes not quantity, etc.), cut the military spending and streamline the whole thing, get rid of programs nobody, not even the general's want, bring back the CCC big time (I love those kids!), fund our long-overdue infrastructure projects, stop trying to stuff Congress into women's wombs, and get dead-on serious about efforts to curb global warming, and get ourselves off coal and oil (like dump the oil/coal subsidies/tax breaks? remember how well that proposal was received in Congress?) etc. etc.

Now, show me one Republican who would vote for a candidate who stood up and said that? Heck, show me a good percentage of Democrats and "independents" who would.

I rest my case.

People don't want facts or solutions. Those are hard and expensive. Instead, they want free pudding. And in elections, they want "feelings," the fuzzier and warmer, the better. Which means the Pols will lie. But the electorate doesn't care. They want those smiley-faced lies from their candidates with their respective surrogates smashing-bashing the Other Guy. (Negative campaigning works. Karl Rove rules!!!) And with Citizens United, that's what they'll get. Big Time.

TCG said...

What you say is certainly true for the most part. That is what is frustrating.

What is also frustrating is that Wisconson's Governor Scott Walker essentially did the politically unthinkable--he followed through on the tough love that he outlined in his campaign, and got his state back on firm financial footing, with no teacher layoffs. Look what it got him--a nationwide Democratic recall attack.

Churadogs said...

Actually, he did more than that and moved to seriously limit bargaining rights, which sent a signal that his real agenda was to destroy unions in general (which have been on life-support for years) and that rang the alarm bells for many Wisconsinites. Had he cut back on his union-busting plans, a bit (the old frog in hot water) the Wisconsinites likely wouldn't have made a peep until their doom was sealed.

With Koch money pouring in to support him, it'll be really interesting to see how this plays out. It'll be a test ground to see how well Citizen's United will work and will be a blueprint for what's in store for all of us from this point forward. Best government money can buy. Indeed.