I am sitting in one of the most interesting places possible to hear about the John Edwards affair and alleged love child - the lobby of a La Quinta hotel in Anderson, South Carolina. Anderson is "upstate" (aka Mike Hukcabee country) and it is always fascinating for me to come here and visit my wife's family. I get a ton more stares and even more hostile reaction to my non-genderconforming appearance, my Yankee accent and New York license plates. I wear my Clemson tigers baseball hat for security as much as the fact that it is very sunny and hot (ok, maybe more). But I digress.
Here in the crowded lobby on a Tuesday morning, CNN on the television and waffle machine getting a workout, there is a lot of hostility and pain, especially amongst women here. "How could he do this to Elizabeth" "What a hypocrite" and a litany of other comments fly. Let's just say the men in the lobby are being very quiet.
For my own part, I am disappointed, saddened and angry. And I worry. This was one candidate that actually spoke about many of the issues I care about - poverty, healthcare, government responsibility and others. But I am so angry about these men - and frankly, it is mostly men - who screw up their political careers (literally) and even more importantly, destroy the work of their supporters and the people who put their time and money behind the candidate who talks about the issues they care about and in whom we put our trust.
Insider baseball is lost on most folks, who just see another man who betrayed his family - and in this case one with a wife struggling with cancer and small children - and another chip in the credibility and trust of our elected. Handsome guy with power gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Simply put by the woman sitting next to me: "How can he claim to be moral and do this to his family?"
As the media pundits play their game of "now what" and pull out their crystal balls to try and predict how this may affect the election, the electorate's feeling and the general mood about the political impact as we approach the Democratic convention (which obviously just lost a potential speaker and a potential VP candidate), it will be interesting to see what the impact is on the "big picture." But as I sit here in what can be better described as the "small picture," it is very plain to me - another disappointment, another chip in the credibility of politicians. No wonder the number of people who vote has dwindled.
Somehow it feels like the reaction here is more genuine than the political spin I would be hearing in DC. I can't say I am in a rush to get back to that. Bonding with some of the folks here may make it possible to take off that Clemson hat and not feel quite as threatened.