It is unfortunately true that public figures are held to higher standards than average human beings. However, they are really no different than the rest of us. No matter how much strength, confidence, or poise a leader may have, they still deal with the same basic instincts and desires. Such is the case with John Edwards, who recently admitted to breaking his marital vows. Rather than attacking him for his flaws, we want to address important circumstances surrounding this issue, and to contribute meaningful perspectives.
John Edwards was perceived as an upstanding person that projected a sense of public trustworthiness. This perception is now tarnished, and ample opportunities for hit campaigns are mounting. But these campaigns don’t just hurt John Edwards: they bring suffering to his family. Families of public figures suffer terrible strain and hardship when the media feeding frenzy begins. We should remember that the Edwards family has its own inner turmoil. Aside from John Edwards’ fall from grace and subsequent media portrayal as a pariah, Elizabeth Edwards is still dealing with cancer. They deserve our compassion, love, and healing thoughts. What’s done is done!
When Bill Clinton ended up in the same situation, I was upset – as we usually are when our leaders or role models fall from grace. I found the subsequent media attack against him unsettling. Although I understood the disappointment and anger the public felt, I was more troubled by his failure to come clean within an appropriate window of time. The public would have still been upset, but I feel that they would have been greater inclined to forgive. I have a feeling some very influential people advised him to withhold the truth at all costs. By doing so, the media gained all the ammunition it needed to run scandal pieces on him.
I wish Clinton’s advisers had urged him to own the issue, and I believe in my heart that his family would have suffered much less. He also would have set a new precedent for being the first person at that echelon of power to have taken such a responsible course of action in a challenging aspect of public life. But he missed his window of opportunity for confronting the issue head-on with disastrous results.
John Edwards has essentially handled his transgression in the same manner as Bill Clinton. However, I think Edwards is getting more negative backlash because the public was convinced that his upstanding work in law and service indicated a kind of human perfection and purity in his personal life.
People make mistakes. They have relationship problems. They do things that we don’t expect. After all, they are human.
Public figures, on the other hand, are not allowed to be human. They must deal with their issues in secrecy. They don’t have the luxury of having private lives. Their lives are not meant to be lived under a microscope; some things truly need to be between them, God, and their families.
As for why John Edwards is in Haiti: I’m sure there are many valid and obvious reasons. He needs to be wherever he can be of service and make a difference. He needs distance from the media circus. He is doing what he is guided to do, and whatever his reasons, there is nothing wrong with him being in Haiti. If he can help, then heck, let him help – Haiti needs it!
I support the comeback and restoration of the Edwards family to wholeness, happiness, and health.