Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Must Read Of The Day

Ezra Klein on John Edwards downfall, and the media's hypocrisy. Money quote:

"This year, the Republican primary was composed primarily of confessed adulterers. Fred Thomas, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain – yes, the very same John McCain who the media lionizes and who may indeed become president – have all cheated on their spouses, some of them multiple times, some of them in cruel circumstances. McCain’s infidelity came while his first wife was crippled by a car accident. When McCain stood on the stage of Saddleback Church on Saturday night and said "I was responsible for the breakup of my first marriage, due to my immature and very bad behavior,” that’s what he was talking about. Yet, somehow, the establishment manages to forgive him. Michael Barone does not write columns on McCain’s transgressions. His election is not considered implausible.

"That is because there’s no ache to tarnish McCain’s sainthood. No desire to construct a narrative incorporating the Keating Five and personal infidelity and dizzying ideological shifts keyed to political ambitions into some sort of incoherent whole that wrecks McCain’s reputation. With Edwards, by contrast, there is. In 2004, running as a cautious and quiet centrist, he was a darling of the establishment. But his populist reinvention enraged them. Unlike McCain’s transformation from an unpredictable renegade who almost joined the Democrats in 2002 to a doctrinaire conservative who out-Reaganed the competition in 2008, Edwards’ drift to the left cast immediate doubt on his basic integrity. From there, it was almost a competition to decisively prove his essential phoniness: His $400 haircut was somehow far more damning than McCain’s $500 loafers. His willingness to raise taxes on his lavish lifestyle showed hypocrisy, while McCain’s eagerness to cut his own taxes by about $370,000 hasn’t detracted from his “country first” posturing. Edwards’ apologetic admission of an affair now discredits his politics, even as McCain’s leverages apologetic references to his own affairs in order to burnish his reputation as a somber straight-talker willing to accept responsibility for his actions."

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