09/19/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

What John Edward's Actions Says to Today's Teens

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. Instelooked 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

Tina Wells, 28, founded Buzz Marketing Group ( 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.