Saturday, August 9, 2008

Edwards: 99 Percent Honest Used to be Enough

I’m not much interested in the sex life of John Edwards. Or rather, any curiosity I would have about it would not be the best thing about my character. My moral indignation is directed against the stupidity of the lies and the horribly squalid image of a man with $500 dollar haircuts visiting a bimbette in a hotel room. The self-delusion is self-evident and, naturally, you worry that the blowback will have some deep impact on the former candidate’s children.

I’m going to follow the most decent example we are likely to see in the current environment, and that is the example set by former Ohio congressman John Kasich. Kasich was interviewed on Fox and, instead of making politics of the opportunity, he expressed obviously sincere empathy for the hurt the spectacle is bound to bring to Edwards’ family.

But I am absolutely amazed at the statement Edwards gave to the press, and in particular, with a single line of it. I could whistle a tune to the general lot of it, all lawyerly stuff, a mix of self-pity, self-condemnation, and rationalization. So I will leave the matter to Hillary Clinton who says she will pray for Edwards, and to John Mcain, who said he’d have “no comment on the matter,” and to the media which failed to march on the story early on but is marching in double-time with it now. But I have to question that line, that one line, the one where Edwards says in his statement that “being 99 percent honest is no longer enough."

It’s that part that gives me the shivers, but it is a pervasive thought these days, that one can be “99 percent honest.” I would submit that 99 percent of honesty is not honesty at all. Because honesty is a whole cloth, an absolute of truth telling, it cannot be fractioned off into some part or measure of itself.

The other question I would have pertains to the “no longer enough” part. I don’t get it, frankly. When ever was 99 percent of honesty “enough?

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