Archive for August 14th, 2008


Your Cheating Heart

Lord, we do love us some drama around a politician boning someone other than his wife, don’t we?

John Edwards became the latest perpetrator-slash-victim in this wonderful cycle, and folks are spouting off all over the place about how terrible it is what he did to his wife, Elizabeth and how it shows his complete lack of moral character and damn aren’t we lucky he didn’t get the Democratic nod because either (a) he’d lose to McCain for the infidelity [if of course we were to ignore that McCain left his disabled wife for a younger, and rich, woman] or (b) we’d have a philanderer in the Oval Office!

Oh, my God! A politician who sleeps around. Stop the presses!

There have been saner heads in the world of commentating and blogging that have pointed out the fact that fidelity is hardly a necessity for being a good politician and that holding politicians to a higher moral standard than other professions doesn’t make much sense. But there still a lot of venom being sloshed into Edwards’ face, from men and women alike. In in my humble opinion, though, we’ve given the country over to greedy, selfish, heartless folks for eight years. Is fucking someone other than your wife really so much worse than fucking people over?

Look, before I go any farther, let me be clear that I don’t support adultery. I have never desired to cheat on my wife and I hope I never do. And I didn’t like what John Edwards did in terms of cheating; it is disappointing. But there are a few reasons I realized that I don’t have a right to get all judgmental and self-righteous about what he did.

First off, unlike Bill Clinton and Elliot Spitzer and some other notable randy politicians in recent years, there is no indication that what Edwards did was some habitual thing. So far, it looks more like an isolated event.

Second of all, Elizabeth isn’t throwing her husband to the wolves but keeping his back, and it’s not my place to be outraged on her behalf if she’s coming to grips with it. Hell, Mrs. Blue and a former social worker she knows (also female) were discussing that with the breast cancer troubles Elizabeth Edwards has been going through, she may not want to have sex and may feel like less than a woman; apparently, this is not uncommon among those fighting breast cancer. They’ve gone so far as to theorize that she may have encouraged her husband to get his business taken care of by someone else. These are woman talking, not me. Such a thing wouldn’t have even crossed my mind as a theory. But it is entirely plausible. We just don’t know.

Finally, though, I am reminded of what Jesus said when the mob dragged before him a woman they had caught in the act of adultery and saying she be stoned to death according to Jewish law and asking what Jesus thought, to try to trip him up and show that he didn’t care about the law. Instead, he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (This is all in John 8:3-11, by the way)

Most of us are familiar with that line and that story, and how it tells us that none of us are without stain or sin and none but God can truly judge and condemn anyone fairly and honestly.

But there is another element to it as well. Recall that the mob didn’t bring the man who had been committing adultery with this woman. They let him go free. Also, in the story, you might recall that before Jesus uttered his famous line, he was drawing in the sand with a stick. My father-in-law, in more than one sermon, has theorized that he was drawing words, perhaps something like, “So, where the heck is the man?” Because to my father-in-law, that is probably the only thing that would have truly made everyone disperse; throwing it in their faces that they only wanted to punish half of the adulterous couple.

True, there is a gender reversal when we look at the Bible story, where the woman gets dragged out, and with John Edwards, where the man is the one who gets the spotlight. But I think there is a parallel in that we always want to point fingers, usually at just one of the people, and then declare that a single act or a certain mistake can permanently make someone unworthy or somehow erases all the good they’ve done in the past. And for some reason, we chose adultery as some special way to do this, as if it’s so much worse than lying or greediness or pettiness or lack of general human compassion, things we have overlooked in politicians on both sides of the aisle on a regular basis.

None of us is without sin. All of us can commit the same mistake of adultery (or murder or theft or whatever) as quickly as anyone in the public that we want to vilify. All that is needed are the right circumstances.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t pay a price for deliberate harm they commit or stupid mistakes they make. I’m not even saying we don’t have a right to wonder about them when we do.

But we don’t have a right to judge a person’s entire worth based on a few unflattering snapshots from their life.


Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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