Thursday, June 03, 2010

Reading: The Politician by Andrew Young

I just finished reading Andrew Young's book/memoir The Politician.
I have mixed reviews of the book but think it is a small peek into the shady, corrupt and bogus world of politics today.
In short - the author was a supporter, employee and friend to the famous and powerful John Edwards of the Kerry/Edwards fame. Edwards was an attorney that earned his personal fortune suing deep pocket companies - medical, insurance etc "on behalf of his clients" and took a huge percentage of the settlement. He was a gifted speaker and turned his interest to politics.
While on the campaign trail - running for senator then president a few times - he was plagued by scandals which eventually brought down his White House chances as well as his marriage.

The book is full of salacious details of the affair with Rielle Hunter, his child of which he denied paternity and his callousness to those around him. Throughout the book, Edwards, his family & colleagues are portrayed as contrary to their public image. But, it is through the details that the reader discovers that political figures are shallow, frauds who want to portray themselves in one light in order to grasp and maintain power.
This goes for the author as well.
Andrew Young claimed to be a "believer" in Edwards and his message. He used this as his reason for assisting Edwards in his affairs, denying paternity and fooling the voter into believing that Edwards was compassionate, well versed in issues and humble.

Through the course of the book, Young gives examples of outlandish acts that Edwards (and others in the political machine) did in order to create a public image that would be likable and ultimately powerful.
Young, who claimed that he believed in the causes, not only saw the reality, but took part in lying to the public - in order to get Edwards elected.
When this lie "blew up" for Edwards as well as the author himself, Young changed his point of view and now chooses to expose the lies, rather than take part in hiding them.

It is impossible to be sympathetic to Edwards - carefully crafting an image as a humble family man out to help poor and struggling families. All the while getting $400 haircuts, building multiple multi-million dollar homes, traveling around the country and world, but never on his own dime. He obtained millions of dollars in campaign contributions and used them for selfish purposes.
Young, took part in all of this. When Edward's mistress birthed a child, Young agreed to tell the public that he, not Edwards was the father. He did this in order to prevent this "indiscretion" from hurting Edward's career (and some believe Edward's marriage).

The book was disturbing for so many reasons. Here, John Edwards ran for president of the United States, was a senator even! He ran on a Democratic ticket and chose party ideologies that would favor him with the most voters, but he didn't read the laws he voted on! He instead chose carefully scripted sound bites and campaign slogans to appeal to voters.

His personal life was a disaster - on so many levels. His "cancer stricken wife", the death of his oldest child, his wife's struggles with her weight - all carefully crafted images to come across to voters who would either be respectful or sympathetic -- ANYTHING TO GET THE VOTE.

Aside from his professional life being a disgrace, his personal life was even worse. He fathered a child which he refused to acknowledge as his own daughter - yet he managed to funnel money to the mother. This is unforgivable - not for the mistress or Edwards or even his family - but for the innocent child born into such a horrendous situation.

The author is no better, in my estimation. He wrote the book in order to support himself and keep his name in politics. He chose to 'be honest" and tell his story - as ugly as it is. And yet, I find myself sickened by all his actions. The author claims that all his actions were justified because he believed in Edwards message. That is just more of the self serving attitude that permeates this book and politics today.
A disgrace.
America deserves better.

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