Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

John Edwards, Bernie Mac, and the difference in apologies

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Originally published on on Mon, 08/11/2008 – 8:20am

“Obama supporters Bernie Mac, Morgan Freeman hospitalized”

I hope the Los Angeles Times headline writer who wrote this headline feels a little bad over the weekend after finding out that Bernie Mac passed away from complications from pneumonia at the age of 50.

[The headline was later changed to “Now, 2 Obama backers, Bernie Mac and Morgan Freeman, hospitalized“; Not sure how this improves the point, but clearly there was negative feedback against the headline.]

After all, what did the fact that Mac and Freeman happened to be Obama supporters have to do with the fact that they were hospitalized? Despite the horrible tackiness of the situation, we don’t expect, and won’t get, an apology from anyone in the MSM.

But we did get an apology on Friday from former presidential candidate John Edwards, who admitted to an affair after much speculation from, of all places, the National Enquirer.

This is the ritual when a politician is publicly exposed for having an affair. They apologize. But what’s funny, or perhaps not so funny, is that if the affair happened a long time ago, or we find out about it later, we don’t get an apology.

When Eliot Spitzer got caught, we got an apology. Even with David Vitter was discovered, he sort of apologized.

This isn’t to justify what Edwards did in terms of activity or timing. But what Edwards did pales in comparison to what Newt Gingrich did and Bob Dole and yes, John McCain. Not to mention that unlike those other situations, the Edwards’ marriage isn’t in danger. But have we heard Gingrich or Dole or McCain apologize for what they did? Not really.

Something else that isn’t funny was watching CNN Saturday morning. I didn’t watch for long, but I heard the anchor ask whether we should trust Edwards on anything else because he lied about having an affair.


Any man (or woman) who has cheated will tell you that yes, they lied about cheating. But it doesn’t change the parameters of truth outside of the affair. There is no reason to think Edwards has lied outside of sex, and to make a charge such as that, you better have some proof.

If that concept isn’t true, it would be like because Bush lied to us about getting us in a war with Iraq, then what else has he lied about? Well, maybe that’s a bad example.

I suppose Edwards had to offer an apology to all potential parties concerned. But honestly, he owes an apology to his wife, children, family, friends, and his supporters. But not to the rest of us. Republicans either don’t apologize or offer some meaningless “I got caught” bullcrap that hasn’t a scintilla of truth.

Less than a month before his death, Bernie Mac got caught up in a controversy for language used when he introduced Barack Obama at a Chicago fundraiser. And Obama offered an apology for that language.

From the Chicago Tribune:

“In a note to reporters, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Obama told Mac that he does not condone the statements and believes what was said was inappropriate.”

Democrats are always quick to apologize for anything that might be a slight. But amazingly, they are sincere when they apologize. Republicans apologize only when it’s in the moment, and when they see there is no other way out. But their apologies seem extremely insincere.

And there are voters who seem to like the Republican approach to apologies. Vitter comes away in good shape after his connection with prostitutes. Spitzer’s career is considered over. To compare Spitzer’s career to Vitter’s career before their scandals is comparing the size of an African elephant to a dust mite. Yet Vitter has a much better shot at continued elected office. Why? Because he’s a Republican.

And the cruel irony is that the evangelicals, who get so upset at moral turpitude, conveniently overlook the Republicans multiple and bizarre eccentricities and focus like a laser beam on Democrats. Newt Gingrich, if he had run for president, would have been the poster child for the religious right, with his affairs track record.

And it’s not just Republicans who believe there is a difference for when you find out about the affair. When Dole was running for president in 1996, The Washington Post discovered that Dole had an affair while married to his first wife. Yet, the paper never published the story. Because it wasn’t true? No, it was true; the paper admits that it knew the story was true.

The paper felt that an affair that long ago wasn’t relevant. And this was against Bill Clinton, who had countless media outlets running every innuendo about him, true or not.

A new documentary, “Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone,” made its debut on IFC just recently. The documentary recounts his ads in major papers, such as The Washington Post, offering $1 million for any information on an affair from a Congressperson or high ranking elected official.

Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA) was thwarted for his shot at Speaker of the House, thanks to Flynt’s work. We also found out Rep. Henry Hyde’s (R-IL) “youthful indiscretion” in his 40s and even Bob Barr’s (R-GA) alleged indiscretions. And Livingston was the only one of the three who suffered from it, a rare Republican whose career was thwarted by an affair. If it was up to the MSM, we never would have found out about Livingston.

The Republicans and the MSM play by the same rules. If a Democrat gets caught, past or present, they are raked over the coals. If a Republican got caught in the past, it doesn’t count. And if it’s in the present, a half-hearted non-specific apology will do just fine.

And so voters who don’t pay that much attention wonder why Democrats apologize more often and seem weaker as a result. Apparently, Democrats are held to a higher standard; that sounds good, but isn’t prudent politically.

Edwards’ political career may be over, and it’s a damn shame. He had a lot to offer as a poverty czar or attorney general or even as vice president. If only he were a Republican, he’d get a second chance.


Written by democracysoup

August 11, 2008 at 8:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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