Breaking the News: Political embarrassment abound

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks in the world of politics, but at least the folks involved made it interesting. It was filled with politicians managing to make a complete mockery of their profession, from John Edwards displaying for the 15th time that bona fide idiots come in the likeliest of packages (men with teeth that white should never be trusted), to some familiar conservative activists attempting to be relevant again.

And you thought your new classes were confusing.

Photo Courtesy MCT

John Edwards is setting the bar too high for adulterous politicians: Though for some time it looked like Tiger Woods may have had him beat, ol’ Johnny came out swinging in the last round.

Edwards had an affair. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year, this shouldn’t be news to you. More details about his relationship and illegitimate child with not-his-wife Rielle Hunter have gradually begun to trickle out of the pages of his former aide, Andrew Young’s new book, “The Politician.”

It’s probably the release of this book that prompted Edwards to come out and announce father-ship of his daughter, a role previously claimed by Young himself. And it’s probably all of that which prompted his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth Edwards, to finally file for divorce.

Now, is it just me, or are extramarital affairs in the world of politics becoming as frequent as Lindsay Lohan’s trips to rehab? Mark Sanford, Mike Duvall, Eliot Spitzer – these names are better known for their romps in the infidelity sack than they are for their roles as politicians.

Photo Courtesy MCT. Rielle Hunter with her daughter Frances Quinn Hunter, the illegitimate child of John Edwards.

Seldom do politicians recover their careers from this type of scandal, and even when they do, it tends to follow them around like an evil shadow waiting to pounce when they’re just vulnerable enough. Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick incident is a great example of this – he, of course, went on to be one of the greatest political figures of our time, but the information and speculation about it all acted like a vulture, looming in the corner of his life.

Edwards undoubtedly knows all of this, so you’d think that his affair plus lovechild would be the worst of it. But, boy, it isn’t. The most recent twist in the scandal is simply shocking – not only did Edwards have a lengthy, serious relationship with Hunter, but, allegedly, a sex tape of the two together exists.

Damn. You’d think this was all a CW show.

If this was Edward’s way of trying to stand out amidst a sea of politicians that all look and sound the same, mission accomplished. He’s a disappointment not only to men everywhere, but also to his very position – his adulterous peers are going to have to do twice as much work to top him, now.

ACORN, the sequel.

Well, not quite.

James O'Keefe's mugshot courtesy DOJ

From the guy who brought you the (completely contrived) ACORN scandal comes something on a bit of a different note. James O’Keefe, the conservative activist best remembered for donning a pimp costume and visiting a string of ACORN offices searching for some semblance of a story, found himself in a bit of trouble last week when he and three others were caught trying to sneak into the office of Democratic Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, with intention to tap the phones. This came after a claim made by Landrieu saying that the office had been unable to take calls from constituents opposing her views on the Senate health care bill.

O’Keefe’s excuse? He wanted to see if she was lying.

So, he and his companions donned telephone repairmen uniforms and attempted to gain access into the office to “examine” the phones.

OK, at least he was kind of self-aware. He clearly must have realized that no one would actually recognize his face if he attempted to pull a stunt similar to the one he did with ACORN – they would only recognize the horrible pimp outfit. Not that this is redeeming, of course.

The main issue here is not the fact that O’Keefe did wrong – though he completely did – but it is rather a sort of deterioration of investigative journalism itself. O’Keefe’s efforts against ACORN launched a huge nationwide investigation, wrongfully teaching him and undoubtedly many others that investigative journalism is no different than so-called “aha!” journalism. Not everything is a Watergate scandal, yet it seems like every semi-scandalous bit of news is being pushed to be so.

And it doesn’t even look like O’Keefe yelled “aha!” when he got to the offices, either, so he didn’t even do that correctly. Oh, when will these kids learn?

About Tanya Ghahremani