Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Laws of Nature

Sometimes I think that males are taught the Ten Commandments in a separate room from us girls. Like maybe the day we're shuffled off to the auditorium in the fifth grade to see "that" film, and learn about the joys of being a woman. (Do they still do that?) In another room, the boys are being handed the tablet, each commandment starred almost imperceptibly. At the bottom of the engraved granite, an asterisk explains the tiny caveat: "*...except if it can get you laid."

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness*
Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery*
Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife*
You get the picture.

I intended to write this column about Johnny Reid Edwards and his inability to follow all three of the above laws of God. He failed so miserably that federal prosecutors charged him Friday with violating the laws of man - six counts of them. But before I could weigh in on this seemingly fresh and fertile ground of male doggery -- it was superseded by even fresher meat.

Yesterday, after days of kerfuffling about inappropriate online messages, New York Representative Anthony Weiner tearfully admitted that yes, he did send the – um – package in question. And that that was the least of his inappropriate conduct. More risque photos, salacious texts, and online canoodling with sexy young constituents.

But unless there is much more to come, really, this is not politics' finest hour; it's also not its worst. Most (but not all) of Weiner's randy texts and tweets and emails took place before his recent marriage. To quote another politician, in Weiner's case he really did not "have sex with (those) women."

Weiner's biggest misdemeanors, in my humble opinion, were poor impulse control, arrogance, and the more heinous crime of hijacking the public conversation.

Now, Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi has announced she will call for an investigation into whether Weiner misused government resources. That will waste more government resources. We'll have as many news cycles as possible to wring out every last detail of these embarrassing revelations, yet more time sucking and agenda fogging.

The only Democrat who might be thrilled with all this Johnny Reid Edwards.

Last Friday, federal prosecutors handed down the indictment against Edwards. The onetime presidential hopeful was charged with four counts of illegal campaign contributions, one count of false statements, and one count of conspiracy. Edwards immediately pleaded not guilty, acknowledging he'd done wrong, but claiming he hadn't broken any laws.

Over the next few days, pundits and legal experts alike agreed it was a highly unusual case. It's unclear whether the government will be able to convince a jury that almost a million dollars funneled to pay the expenses of Edwards' paramour Rielle Hunter could be considered campaign funds. If so, it should have been reported as campaign funds, (which would have been problematic, handily topping the $2,300.00 legally allowed individual limits). If not, the money was just a friendly gift, maybe designed to keep the damaging details from Edwards' sick wife.

That's certainly the position Edwards' lawyer takes.

"No one has ever been charged, either civilly or criminally, with the claims that have been brought against Sen. Edwards today. This is an unprecedented prosecution," said attorney Gregory Craig. "No one would have known, or should have known, or could have been expected to know, that these payments would be treated or should be considered as campaign contributions. And there was no way Sen. Edwards knew that fact either."

Here's the tricky part. It's a no brainer that John Edwards, through his flunkies, took fistfuls of cash from rich folks - specifically 100 year old heiress Bunny Mellon and Texas lawyer Fred Baron, and used the money to conceal Edwards' affair, and its resulting child. At issue is whether that money qualifies as campaign funds.

It comes down to intent. Prosecutors will argue that of course the money was politically motivated, thus qualifies as campaign donations. Bunny Mellon started passing the dough to Edwards' aide Andrew Young (the man tasked with pretending he was Rielle Hunter's baby-daddy – shouldn't there be a law against that?) after Edwards was excoriated in the press for his $400.00 haircuts. Mellon sent her money with a note, now touted as a smoking gun for the prosecution, one that provides evidence Mellon thought she was supporting the campaign.

"From now on, all haircuts, etc..., that are necessary and important for his campaign – please send the bills to me," wrote Mellon. "... It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions."

If $400 haircuts could negatively impact a presidential shot, think of what a torrid affair under the nose of one's cancer ridden wife, and an out-of-wedlock baby, would do to it?

"A centerpiece of Edwards' candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man," Friday's indictment read. "Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and the pregnancy would destroy his candidacy."

So Listerine heiress Mellon eventually spent upwards of $725,000 to keep Hunter quietly tucked away. That's a lot of mouthwash. In fact, some of it was being passed off as home furnishings, funneled through Mellon's decorator, pricey antiques – chairs, a "Charleston" table. Meanwhile the checks were really going to fund private jets for Hunter, hotels and baby expenses.

Edwards faces up to five years in prison. So even if yet more crazy, self-imploding politicians eclipse him in the weeks and months to come, he's not off the hook.

And there will undoubtedly be more. As sure as the asterisk lurks at the bottom of the male ten commandments, male politicians will implode. That seems to be a law of nature. You can bet, though, that the Democrats are hoping for another John Ensign (R-Nev) the next time around.


Cozy in Texas said...

Kerfuffle is a great word for this. Sad that both these "men" were married and had little regard as to how all this would affect their wives.

Dr. Gina Simmons said...

So well written and fun to read Lisa. I agree with your line... "the more heinous crime of hijacking the public conversation."

Anonymous said...

Good post...

It always amazes me when a women goes for a handsome, charming, go-getting, corporate or political alpha-male and then reacts with complete surprise when it's discovered that he is more "out-going" than she originally anticipated. It may also surprise these women to find out that the earth is round and two plus two is four...

The lying and defrauding is an entirely different matter of course. But society is to blame here - at least partly. We need to accept that a persons private lifestyle has nothing to do with his or hers abilities in their jobs,- eg. you can be an excellent CEO or president even if you cheat on your wife in your spare time. No need to break the law in an attempt to hide it.