To no fault of his own, John Edwards morphed into the "Breck Girl" in 2004 during his nearly successful drive to get the Democratic presidential nomination. The sliming of Edwards started when an anonymous Republican source telegraphed to The New York Times how the Party planned to attack the surging Senator from North Carolina. The GOP used deceit to label Edwards effete, hoping the veiled homophobia would lead to his defeat.
As John Kerry's struggling primary campaign headed south, his manager, Jim Jordan, stole a page from the GOP and started deriding Edwards as "the cute Beatle." (If only Jordan had the good sense to have called Bush the "dumb Beatle" Kerry might be President)
To exacerbate his image problem, a video recently began circulating on YouTube showing Edwards meticulously flipping his floppy hair to the tune of "I Feel Pretty." It has been viewed nearly 400,000 times - meaning he has the most famous mane since Fabio. So what did Edwards do...he hired a fancy Beverly Hills stylist to do his "do" to the tune of $400.
Not only did this solidify his Breck Girl reputation, it upended his important message that the growing gap between rich and poor is creating "two Americas." You know, the one America that goes to Super Cuts and the other that spends $400.
Personally, I don't have a problem with a self-made millionaire spending lavishly on grooming. After all, he earned his money and can spend it in any way he sees fit. No, this is more about enormously poor judgment that makes me question his fitness to be president. After all, it should not take a team of political consultants to tell him that a $50 limit on a hairdo might be a good idea until after the election.
Edwards' faux pas was reminiscent of John Kerry windsurfing at the very moment he was trying to convince Joe Six Pack that he wasn't an elitist.
If Edwards seemed out of touch, Sen. John McCain has lately seemed out of his mind. Last week, he butchered the Beach Boys hit Barbara Ann by crooning "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran," but was recently oblivious to the bomb, bomb, bombs, detonating in Iraq while he made that silly walkabout in a hapless Baghdad market.
McCain ought to sell his 2000 campaign bus, the "Straight Talk Express" to Mitt Romney, who is desperate to court social conservatives. I can picture Romney traversing America, waving from the bus, chortling, "This is the Straight Talk Express, no gay talk here."
Romney has had his own problems, like his last minute membership in the NRA and pretending he is a real hunter. The truth is, the only thing of note he’s ever shot is the bull and his experience with "big game" is relegated to his efforts to trick the right wing into supporting his flip-flopping, Johnny-come-lately candidacy.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton showed she is amoral when she could not say whether homosexuality was immoral in response to anti-gay comments from Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After checking the polls, consulting with consultants and sticking here finger in the wind, Hillary made amends with the gay community. Sometimes, Hillary looks so canned she could be part of an Andy Warhol painting. If she wants to beat Barack Obama, she's going to have to leave the talking points behind and start talking like her candidacy actually has a point.
In a way, I feel bad for the candidates. The campaigns are excruciatingly longer than they used to be and in the past twenty years there has been a proliferation of news channels. This means more interviews, which increases opportunities for gaffes. There was also a time when candidates campaigning in small towns could relax. If they messed up, the damage was locally contained. Now, with cell phone cameras and YouTube, if you screw up in an Iowa farm of hogs, you are instantaneously ripped to shreds on countless blogs. A candidate always has to be on or he or she will turn off voters.
The age of the political hero is over. There is no way a normal human being can withstand shadowing by multimedia for two years and not look downright human in the end. Perhaps, this is a positive development, as we may finally stop lionizing our leaders, only to be let down in the end.
Last week, I was within a hair of endorsing Edwards until he got the haircut. With primary voters looking eagerly towards Judgment Day at the polls, the candidates that may ultimately prevail are the ones who actually show a modicum of common sense and good judgment.