Amidst the turmoil of Russia attacking Georgia, the anticipation of the oncoming presidential election and the triumph of Michael Phelps making Olympic history, another news story has captured the public's fancy -- John Edwards' tawdry affair with a crazy lady.
No wonder. It has it all -- scandal, sex, treachery and hypocrisy. In the supporting role you have the devoted ailing wife. In the lead role, the man who would be king is brought down by his own fragile ego. And in the role as villain you have the manipulative vamp. Classic trash. Think of it as "The Elliot Spitzer Chronicles Part II."
This goes to show that people of power, be it politicians or rehab-ridden celebrities, all share a similar flaw. They think they're above it all. And what makes it worse is when they think their excuses somehow justify their actions. Whether it's Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears, the B-listers on Celebrity Rehab, or Paris Hilton, it's all the same whiney refrain: "I was abused. I have an addiction. I have an illness. I have ADD. The paparazzi chased me." Or, in the case of John Edwards, "Narcissism made me do it."
When are people in the public eye going to take responsibility for their actions? Nobody beat them. Nobody made them to take that drink. Nobody forced them to do without the necessities in life so that they couldn't learn right from wrong. If anything, they had it too easy. Edwards - the man with the $400 haircuts who came off as a champion of the downtrodden -- gave a litany of lame excuses for cheating on his sick wife, as if he could somehow articulate a compassionate justification for being, well, sleazy.
But that's the way it is these days. No one admits fault. Famous people, whether they are politicians or celebutantes, think they are better than everyday people because every day people have let them think they are better. That's got to stop.
Sure, we've all heard this story before. A cheating spouse is nothing new. And "power corrupts" in many ways. But what does it say to the young people of America when someone of Edwards' stature pulls this? I believe it perpetuates that sense of entitlement that so many of tweens and teens are already developing.
As long as you're famous you're above the law or any set of rules, morals or ethics. And if you have money, you can buy your way out of any sort of trouble. Society gives second chances to these celebrities on an ongoing basis. Some even boast about it. They talk about kicking drugs or booze or straightening their lives out as if doing so deserves special praise. Shouldn't today's youth be admiring those who don't get addicted, or cheat or lie in the first place? Where are those stories?
The message taken by teens is that it's more important to be a famous person than a decent one. Marquee value trumps merit; cash trumps character. And the media reinforces it with every moment of airtime they allot to these privileged pinheads and their petty indulgences.
In the case of Edwards, he went as far as to say his wife and kids, "weren't responsible" for what he did. Excuse me? Does anyone think they were? Is Edwards so full of himself that he thinks he's being magnanimous by saying this? When I heard this I didn't know whether to be saddened or sickened. At least he didn't have his poor wife stand beside him while he purged, selectively, to the interviewer. I'd like to think she had enough self-esteem not to give him the satisfaction.
Was Edwards expecting affirmation? Forgiveness? Sympathy? I think so. He probably thought he'd come off as brave and forthright. Instead, he looked like a pompous fool. You lied John Edwards! You're still lying! Just admit it and go away! Your time is up, but everyone got the memo except you. If you were on Flava of Love, Flava Flav would be taking away your clock by now.
Let's be real here. The only reason you're coming clean is because you got caught. If you really want to do the right thing, apologize to your wife and children and stay out of the public eye. Your career is over. Now it's time to exit with what little dignity you have left. Our youth doesn't need to see any more of this morally bankrupt, self-justifying spectacle.
Tina Wells, 28, founded Buzz Marketing Group (www.buzzmg.com) when she was just 16. A leading consulting company that specializes in the latest youth trends, Buzz clients include St. Martin's Press, SonyBMG, Sesame Workshop and Time Inc., to name a few. A trailblazer in her field, her list of honors include Essence Magazine's 40 Under 40 Award, Billboard's 30 Under 30 Award, and AOL's Black Voices Female Entrepreneur's Award.