Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Sunday Globe Giveth and It Taketh Away

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, has suffered a recurrance of breast cancer. Nevertheless, she and her husband determined he should continue the campaign as she returns to treatment.

That's about as personal as decisions get, and I think I speak for decent people everywhere when I wish them well and drop the topic. Their family life is none of my damn business.

Globe political columnist Joan Vennochi begs to differ. Her piece in the increasingly unreadable Globe "Ideas" section today is a montage of presumptuous, banal and insulting long-range psychoanalysis of two people she has met briefly if at all. It would be rank gossip if spoken by the Edwards' next-door neighbor. As political commentary, it's beneath contempt. Ms. Edwards' illness has nothing to do with what sort of president her husband might make or the ideas he's put forth in his campaign. It's not a "who cares" deal, because it evokes sympathy, but it's not an issue for commentary, or shouldn't be.

The unspoken message of this piece is clear. Vennochi thinks the Edwards' personal decision isn't what she'd do. That is a "Who Cares?" topic.

Whether it's from the left or right, the incessant focus on what our politians are like as people helps demolish public discourse. Simple truth, all politicans are weird, and those who run for and become president are weirder than most. It's a given, and we need to move past it to assess whether or not we should vote for one of 'em.

Way back in the day, the United States had a president who suffered from clinical depression. He had a son die in the middle of his first term. His wife was eventually institutionalized for degenerative mentall illness. Abraham Lincoln did OK anyway.


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