With the most recent news surrounding former presidential candidate John Edwards, we are able to see what a shallow pool of integrity the Democratic Party has offered to us this year in their candidates. Then they expect us to elect one of them, president of the United States. I had numerous times referred to this year as the most open presidential race since 1952. This was supposed to be the year that offered us the best candidates from the largest field. This was supposed to be the year are we could custom make our president from an off the rack world. I have to stop using that analogy because we were shortchanged by both parties.
So John Edwards had a little fling with a filmmaker two years ago. He got a little bored on the campaign trail. Is that a big deal? It must have been, because right away John Edwards began his image rehab. First going on Nightline, and I suspect Larry King, Barbara Walters, and Oprah Winfrey may be next. Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera will be avoided, of course. And the Chris Matthews show? Who really cares?
Of course we have to legitimize what John Edwards has done. He was quickly compared to Bill Clinton and John Kennedy. These of course are our greatest womanizing presidents of the last 50 years. So what's wrong with that? And of course, the affair occurred while his wife's cancer was in remission. What a nice guy! That almost makes things sound fair. It almost erases the sin. Elizabeth just about had it coming to her. But let's look at the bigger issue. John Edwards let a lot of people down. He let down his campaign staff who fervently believed in him. He let down and everyone who had voted for him. He let down his friends still active in presidential politics. I won't even tackle the family issue. Now, how important will be his recent endorsement of Barack Obama?
Well, that's all the new face of politics. That's 21st-century politics. After all, we're all human. Or that's what we say it once we're caught. But while it's going on, candidates think they're invincible. John Edwards claimed he was narcissistic and self-centered. Well, I won't argue with that. But, what he did say was that he was tired of being only 99% truthful. That means 1% of John Edwards is a liar. Unfortunately for him, that 1% will now define his character. That 1% will now be his legacy. That 1%, was his integrity. While seeking public trust, or for that matter are seeking the trust of anyone you come in contact with, integrity matters. It matters in business, it matters in politics, and it sure the hell matters when selecting a president.
The real mistake here is to take for granted what your public image really is. Especially when you're going to be high-profile and running for the highest office. There was a time when you guarded your reputation with the utmost security. There was a time when character mattered. There was a time when integrity mattered. I guess the time for that had passed. Now, ethics is only a small percent of who we are publicly. For John Edwards, it's only 1%. For the rest of us, it's a very large 1%.