A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
It’s a foregone conclusion that John Edwards is kinda scuzzy. His recent indictment is just icing on the scummy cupcake. But he is a lawyer, so I will not write about him today. Instead, I’m going to write about a person called Henry. Henry is a purely fictional creation who bears no resemblance to any actual person, living or dead. His story comes solely from my imagination and any similarity to real events or situations is utter coincidence and has no basis in fact. If you want to read about John Edwards, you can do so here. This blog is about something completely different: a fantasy fellow named Henry.
Henry is one of the 99% of all lawyers who give the other 1% a bad name. He started out as a sleazy ambulance chaser who perverted the court system to translate pain and suffering into lottery-quality dollars for his clients. He extracted huge percentages from these settlements for himself (tens of millions of dollars, actually) which propelled him to wealth first and fame after that. From such a lowlife beginning, he went morally downhill from there. Like most glib men, he believed in his own destiny, and so he entered politics. It turned out he could be just as sincere on the campaign trail as he had been in the courtroom. At the peak of his career, he came within a heartbeat of being within a heartbeat of being the President of the United States. Henry sounded good to a lot of people; however, recent events have shown that he has no moral fibre to speak of and a soul that is weak and misshapen, if it exists at all.
What happened was, while running for office, Henry had an affair with one of his campaign workers. I’m not going to talk about sexual harassment; for guys like Henry that’s way down the priority list. Aside from that, this is nothing serious – tons of politicians commit adultery. Way back in the day, John Kennedy made an absolute career out of it. More recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger was caught with his metaphorical hand in the sexual cookie jar. Power is a powerful aphrodisiac, and people traveling together in the endless cycle of photo ops, sound bytes and campaign promises tend to cling to each other. Sometimes, this gets to be more than a spiritual thing. In general, adultery for politicians is like jaywalking for the rest of us. As long as you don’t get caught, nobody cares if you do it occasionally.
Fortunately, Henry got caught, and here’s where things get interesting. Instead of admitting his mistake, apologizing to the tune of a couple of well placed press conference tears and skulking off into oblivion, Henry lied. To be fair, Henry’s political career coincided with Bill Clinton’s, so it was only natural for him to think that lying about extramarital sex was standard operating procedure. After all, Bill Clinton is still considered the wonder boy of the political left — even though he out-Nixoned Nixon when he lied to a Federal Grand Jury. Henry probably thought, “I’m three times as charming as Clinton; if he can get away with it, why can’t I?” And he was almost right.
You and I (and everybody else on the planet) know that lying is another well oiled perennial practice of politicians. In general, most people don’t believe anything politicians say after “Good morning” – and, sometimes, not even that. However, most politicians know when they’re trapped and it’s time to turn on the waterworks, cut and run.
Henry didn’t. He has an ego the size of the Titanic, and it’s served him just about as well. He decided to brass it out. For the next three years, Henry embarked on a wild series of sincere denials. Each one of these was blown out of the water as evidence piled up against him – including what somebody down at the National Enquirer might call a love child. To date the count (depending on how you’re keeping score) is four or five heartfelt denials which have all proved to be nothing more than an ever-expanding bag of lies.
The moral of this fictional story is not that Henry is unfit to govern us because he had, what looks like, consensual sex with someone other than his wife, or that he lied about it. The true moral is that the Henrys of this world are unfit to govern us because they fall apart in a crisis. They do not have the intelligence and fortitude to analyse a situation, cut through the complexities, weigh the consequences, come up with an appropriate plan of action and implement it — all in the time it takes for allegation to become accusation. Instead, they rely on spin doctors, media coverage, sound byte smiles and the mistaken belief that the public is stupid, with a short fickle memory. A true leader would have fixed Henry’s problems long before they landed all over him. Henry, however, isn’t fit to govern an ant farm and I hope he goes to jail. He would — if this were real life and not just fiction.