I was a child of the 80's. I turned 18 in 1991 and attended my first political rally soon after.
I had been, for some time, aware of my idealistic and somewhat naive view of politics. But I also knew the issues that resonated with me, the things I felt were most important, and how I felt about our current political leaders. Shaking Mr. Clinton's hand during that rally in Westlake only cemented the fact that I'd be voting for him come November. I felt like anything could happen, we could change the world. . .
Then, Monica happened.
Admittedly, I was let down. However, I stood on my laurels (however naive they were) and I was vocal about the fact that a person's private life should in no way affect their professional life, or so I thought at the time what with all the life experience I had.
Last night, watching Nightline, that same sick feeling crept up again. I had anticipated watching Bob Woodruff's interview with John Edwards all day since the news broke about his affair and possible love child. I really, really wanted that interview to quiet the unease and assure me that this man, this incredible leader that I believed in with my whole heart, the person who I hoped would make it all the way to the election, was still the same man I'd listened to and believed in during the beginning.
I sat there and watched as he back peddled and dodged questions by Mr. Woodruff, whom he'd invited into his home to give this interview. Obviously, he knew what he wanted to say and responding off the cuff to some very pointed, very simple questions was not part of his plan. It didn't take long for all my hopes and dreams for John Edwards ever making a difference and making good on the promises he spoke, to be flushed down the toilet. And that same old disappointed feeling was back.
I go back and forth on the whole "marital indiscretion" thing when it comes to our leaders. On the one hand, I figure, if they are honest with their spouses than that is all that should matter. What goes on between two people in their marriage is just that, between two people (technically, I suppose a third party would also have to be involved if we're talking about an affair). However, the way in which a public figure handles his/her indiscretions makes a huge difference in how the entire situation plays out and how they are viewed. If handled with the right combination of grace and humility, sometimes the public will overlook the indiscretion and/or behavior and focus only on that leader's strengths.
Part of me holds the media responsible. If it weren't for all of the coverage and the digging into people's private matters, we would be left in the dark, like we were before the invention of digital media at our fingertips and the increasing interest in turning public figures into paparazzi targets. We all know that several if not the majority of great leaders have had less than perfect private lives. What bearing does this have on how they lead? Who knows. Yes, we want our elected officials and those representing our country in the world arena to be as perfect as possible, but is this realistic? Can a leader be excellent at leading and horrible at his or her personal life?
I would love to know what you think about this and whether or not the recent developments in the Edwards' personal lives has changed how you feel about John Edwards as a future political leader.