Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why do we loathe John Edwards? A brainy explanation

Interesting examination today by Time Magazine about why Americans feel such hostility toward John Edwards.

It's partly self-evident. The North Carolina senator cheated on his wife and fathered a child outside of marriage, all while Elizabeth Edwards was battling the breast cancer that ultimately took her life.

But, as writer Jeffrey Kluger says:

There's a certain deliciousness to the way we loathe Edwards. We dismiss a mass killer like Osama bin Laden with a simple "rot in hell." We dismiss O.J. Simpson with a simple "rot in jail." And before you say that the difference is that both of those thugs have at least been dealt with, consider that the thrice-married and repeatedly unfaithful Newt Gingrich behaved nearly as despicably as Edwards, yet even now he is making a credible, if fading, run for the White House. Edwards, by contrast, can't walk into a restaurant without the risk of getting pelted by dinner rolls.
Why is that so? Kluger says a big factor is our brains. Studies using functional magnetic imaging have shown researchers there's an overlapping circuitry that governs morality and disgust. Our brains are triggered by different manifestations of that disgust - personal betrayal, the feeling we have when we see others cheated, and the pragmatic consequences of bad behavior.

Edwards, with his bad behavior, essentially played pinball with that circuitry - setting off all of our disgust triggers. Not only were we repulsed by him cheating on a sickly wife, that action brought potential consequences to his party and, perhaps most of all, was a surprise to many given his public choirboy persona. With Gingrich and Bill Clinton, we were disgusted - but not particularly surprised - at their infidelities.

Could our brains actually forgive him? You might be surprised at what science says. Give it a read.

Peter St. Onge


Archiguy said...

No, the actual reason is far more simple. Edwards, because of his efforts in defending the powerless from the excesses of Big Business and his dedication to fighting poverty (all of which is very true, no matter his personal shortcomings), became the enemy of the powerful corporate interests that run the Republican Party.

He was already being attacked for things as silly as his haircut, so when his infidelity was exposed, it was a golden opportunity for the big guns of the right-wing propaganda machine to fire a withering salvo. He was attacked relentlessly with a venom even Bill Clinton didn't have to endure.

The left has no equivalent attack machine, and no official propaganda arm like Fox News or AM radio talk shows or the right-wing blogosphere. All were trained on Edwards, effectively silencing him.

But Gingrich and other Republican philanderers and adulterers remain virtually untouched. The silly "liberal media" insists on focusing on their actual record and politically relevant comments. Imagine that.

The political conservative has been taught that such sins only count when committed by a liberal or Democrat. That's the world we live in now.

Wiley Coyote said...

The political progressive has been taught that such sins only count when committed by a conservative or Christian. That's the world we live in now.

Democrats have no morals.

All one has to do is look at the case study called Bill Clinton and his extramarital affairs and his lying about them.

The worst thing a progressive can be called is a hypocrite.

kantstanzya said...

Seriously? Equating what Newt Gingrich did with what Edwards and Clinton did? Only in the upside down world of liberal land could that be possible.

Gingrich cheated on two wives and married the women he cheated with. Not good but that's about it.

Maybe you should read the Edwards book "The Politician" by his former chief aid Andrew Young. He fathered a baby by his mistress and did everything including apparently stealing money from a 100 year old campaign contributor and breaking campaign laws. He was willing to say and do anything to keep the public in the dark just long enough to possibly become our President, Vice President or Attorney General. He lied numerous times on national TV and blamed other people. If even 25% of what Young says in the book is true we dodged a huge bullet.

And Clinton? The short version is he had numerous affairs before and after becoming President including with a young intern. He also was accused of rape by several credible women. Finally he lied under oath to cover up one of his assaults, was impeached, lost his law license and paid $850,000 to keep the case out of court to prevent further disclosure of abuse of power.

While Gingrich may be classified as a cad, both Clinton and Edwards are classic sociopaths.


ncdave77 said...

"Democrats have no morals". That's a mighty wide brush there. Regarding politicians, I don't care about their personal mistakes regardless of party. In a position of such power, I'd almost expect these things. It's the hypocrisy of those the feign "outrage!" that gets me.. see Gingrich during the Clinton fiasco, for example. Heck, I'd never even heard of Gingrich's past until his own party started hounding him about it a few months back (just as his popularity rose). Even now, I'm sure I could tell you more about Clinton and Edward's slip-ups than Gingrich's. Wonder why that is.

misswhit said...

Perhaps the 28,000 square foot home he built in Chapel Hill while railing against the wealthy and touting his mill house background might have something to do with it.

Aroostercrat said...

And he lives in our front yard. We get enough jawing about being Southern hick trailer trash and now our supposed delegate to the "Nawth" turns out to be the snaggle-toothed, galloused-overalled, poster boy for Tobacco Road and moonshine and Daisy Mae. But, we in NC did not fall for the "Two-Americas," smiley All-American, John Kennedy imitator. He certainly had idol worshippers outside of this state. Who was gullible? Not the people of the Great North State! He will just fall into historical shameful near- anonymity with the likes of Jim Bakker, Jim Black, Mike Easley, and Meg Scott.

Leemac123@live,com said...

All of the above is why I do not vote. I was raised up with F.D.R. Do we have one like him around now? Guess not! We don't have Bing Crosby or Kate Smith around now either and from the sound of our singers today there's none around like them. We hear about the extinction of certain birds, plants,etc.--but--people are still multipling. Seems as tho' the GOOD genes are shrinking and the weak genes are taking over. Who said "give me a few good men"? I would settle for ONE GOOD HONEST DECENT STRONG Humand Being--Male or Female and I just may VOTE. A strong male politician ask me years ago why I do not Vote. I told him I did not know the ones running. He said to vote either way and if I did not like them to vote them out next time. But a lot can happen during the next 4 years, case closed!!!