An Affair to Remember

Can you imagine an officeholder with cancer-stricken wife having an affair?

Cleaning out the notebook...

• Can you imagine a public figure having an affair while his wife is being treated for cancer? And having the affair with someone who works for him? All the while putting forward the face of a dedicated public servant?

Oh, the hypocrisy. Oh, the chutzpah. Can you imagine the narcissism it requires to take what you want and ignore the moral and ethical standards of society to satisfy your desires?

Very often the wife is a beloved figure. As often happens with egotistical assholes, everyone else can see what a wonderful woman the wife is, admire her character, and appreciate her attractiveness. Her wonderful qualities are ignored, however, by a husband consumed by his ambition and the delusions of grandeur that let him believe he is destined for high political office.

How does he face his staff, other political figures, and the public every day? How is he able to shovel dirt at a groundbreaking, read to the children, or address a gathering of senior citizens? What kind of mind can withstand this pressure and allow the man to live with himself and at peace? How can he look someone in the eye and deny it all?

Luckily, nothing like that could happen here.

John Edwards is effectively done in politics. Not because he had an affair, but because he is a lying hypocrite who lied to his wife, lied to the American people, and had no compunction doing it.

• I don't want to read too much into the defeat of Congressman David Davis in upper East Tennessee (one of our upset specials last week). But his political strength in the state Legislature and in his congressional win came from the Christian Right. He won (with 27 percent) against a huge field of candidates by appealing to that base. His defeat after one term could be seen as a reaction of the secular, traditional conservative Republicans of East Tennessee.

There is some evidence nationally that Christians have come to realize their mission is to save souls and spread the gospel, and putting their faith in politicians and getting mixed up in political races might not be a good idea. They have realized their crusades have been orchestrated by cynical amoral scum like Karl Rove and Ralph Reed for their own political ends that have nothing to do with promoting moral values. (See Reed, Indian casinos, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Satan.)

I've never been concerned about Christians having a bad effect on our political process, but I have worried about politics perverting religion. Politicians in the pulpit are not good for our democracy or for our churches.

• Mike Whittaker was an under-funded Democrat who ran a statewide race against Gov. Don Sundquist in Sundquist's re-election campaign in 1998. Whittaker decided to save his money for the general election, since he was the party's choice to carry the banner into November.

John Jay Hooker was also on the ballot in the primary. The party's nominee in 1970, Hooker raised no money, spent no money, and did not campaign in 1998. He beat Whittaker by a 3-1 margin.

Former Knox County Clerk Mike Padgett must have been feeling the same sort of angst last Thursday when he not only lost to Bob Tuke, the former state party chair and the winner, but he also lost to Gary Davis. Davis raised no money and did not campaign. But he is named Davis, which sounds familiar to voters.

• It appears that newly elected Knox County Commissioners have no desire to be known as the new Chuck Boluses. Bolus was sworn in early on Black Wednesday in order to break a stalemate and select an anti-Mike Ragsdale candidate in the 4th District. He was removed by the Sunshine lawsuit and lost heavily to Amy Broyles in the 2nd District last week.

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale has been proposing an early swear-in for new commissioners to keep some of his critics from attending one more commission meeting, on Aug. 25. But the newly elected commissioners are choosing to avoid the early swear-in and will instead by sworn in Sept. 2, the traditional date for newly elected officeholders.