Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why In Elizabeth's Death, John Matters

The collective heart of the country breaks over the death of Elizabeth Edwards.

Cancer is a reality, and it's death toll is growing. It is sad that this relatively young woman died of breast cancer.

But our heart is not broken because a woman died of breast cancer.

Our deep sadness is that Elizabeth Edwards, wife of an very famous asshole, died after several years of very public betrayl.

If not for John Edwards, we wouldn't know Elizabeth.

So I read with interest the many online comments yesterday "screaming" that we didn't want to hear from "her husband,' that it was wrong to mention him in stories about her death.

It's what matters here, like it or not.

Some personal notes:

In 2007 I received a call from someone in the Edwards campaign asking if I would come listen to him speak. I wasn't interested, but I went. I liked what he said, met with him after, and eventually held a fundraiser for his campaign.

During that time I received a call from someone who worked on his last campaign (where he ran as VP on the ticket with Senator John Kerry) asking me to support some African-American state senator from Illinois. I said this country was not ready to elect a black president and that I was suppporting Edwards. He told me Edwards was a terrible human being, but would not elaborate. I don't know if he knew about the affair when he said that to me.

I never met Elizabeth, but her name was everywhere - her involvement in the campaign, intense.

To this day I am embarrassed over the support I gave him, the money I raised for him, and all my friends that got involved in his campaign because of me. I don't like when I find out someone is a liar, or not who they seem to be.

John Edwards is in his own living hell right now, and I have no sympathy for him, none. He will always be Elizabeth Edwards husband, the one who fathered a child with a campaign staffer and hid it from his cancer stricken wife.

But let's not believe for a minute that we are sad because a woman died of cancer, or even a famous woman. We are in pain because of the horrible suffering this woman enudred at the hands of her soulless husband, publicly, and with dignity. We are sad, and mad, two different emotions, and we should discuss both.

There of course is a lesson here. When you're famous, everything is elevated. Everything matters. People have affairs every day, people die of cancer.

But Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards doesn't die every day.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

1 comment:

David V. Lorenzo said...

Well stated.

I was in the same boat as you. I raised money for him, voted for him in the primary and I feel terrible about the agony Mrs. Edwards endured during her brief time on Earth.

But what I take away from her life are two profound truths:

1). No matter what happens to you in life, no one can take away your dignity. Mrs. Edwards suffered the loss of a child and a terrible betrayal yet she remained a dignified warrior fighting Cancer for every last day.

2). Our contribution during our time on Earth is measured by the positive impact we have had on others. If we have helped one person, just one, through a difficult time, we have made an immeasurable impact on society.

Elizabeth Edwards' passing helped remind me of those things. For that I am grateful.