An American Tragedy

04/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What else can you possible call it? With respect to Theodore Dreiser, no fiction writer could dream up this mess. It would be a great story, if only it weren't real.

I didn't intend to write about it...but I also didn't think John Edwards could sink any lower than he already had. I love words but I don't have any to describe him. Watching 20/ 20 hit me wherever is below below the belt. And maybe I feel this personally because I know the fragility of someone with cancer.

Yet even the cancer card isn't protecting Elizabeth Edwards; her nasty phone message is being played as just another scene in the story. Personally I feel protective towards her, although many believe she shares some blame for continuing to support his candidacy.

Everyone involved was manipulated by something or someone bigger than themselves. From Andrew Young who bought into the charisma to his wife, willing to shield the secret so Elizabeth wouldn't die knowing about Rielle Hunter.

Every one of them drank the Kool-Aid. Sickening. Sordid. Sad.

Yet this is just another story in a list as long as Tiger's list of mistresses. The only surprise is that anyone is surprised anymore -- the public, or the people who get caught. Though maybe John Edwards' story outweighs Tiger's in hubris, you have to believe the only worse stories are the ones we haven't heard yet ... till the revolving door spins and the next deer gets caught in the headlights.

They're victims of the most potent and pernicious elixir on the planet: power. Power of money. Position. Fame. Any or all of the above. It's like cancer itself, eating into values and religion and morality -- which are all at risk no matter who you are and what you hold dear.

The poison of power can puncture holes in character, strip away sense and sensitivity, and remove reason and rationality.

And the public plays its part. We build up our heroes and fall under their spell -- letting them sell us everything from pet food to politicians. We buy into the image just like they do. We hand them the keys to the kingdom and then we wonder why they believe they really are kings ... and emperors.

Sometimes we all forget to remember: the emperor has no clothes. Especially when we're living in a time of transparency ... when anyone with a cellphone is carrying a loaded weapon and 140 characters on a screen can change the world.

So we can clearly see through the hubris to the human being ... time and time again. They never seem to learn the lesson here. And neither do we.