RUSH: I want to spend a little time here, just a brief moment, on the Breck Girl. This is a story, ladies and gentlemen, not going away. People ask me, ‘Rush, it’s over. What’s the big deal? Why stick with Edwards?’ This is a multilayered story, and to illustrate this, I am holding in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers (shuffling paper) a printed copy of an article by the illustrious Walter Shapiro writing at Salon.com. Walter Shapiro is a Drive-Byer, and he used to write for USA Today. ‘After covering John Edwards — and liking him — for years, what I thought I knew about him was wrong. But reporters often misjudge candidates.’ This whole piece — we’ve got a link to it — it is hysterical. He’s not trying to be funny. He doesn’t realize how hysterical this is. ‘Five days after Edwards flat-lined on ‘Nightline,’ I am still embarrassed by how badly I misjudged him both in print and in my personal feelings.’
At least Mr. Shapiro has the honesty to admit that he was embarrassed and that he misjudged the Breck Girl, ‘both in print and in his personal feelings.’ ‘Without overstating these bonds, I naively believed that I knew Edwards as well as I understood anyone in the political center ring. Yet I never saw this sex scandal coming — partly because I accepted the mythology that surrounded the Edwardses’ marriage and partly because I assumed that any hint of a wandering eye would have come out during the 2004 campaign. But then Rielle Hunter and the National Enquirer brought us all into the real world.’ You realize what a tantamount admission of incompetence this is by Mr. Shapiro?
‘I do not want to dwell long on the specifics of this modern-day no-love story. But even though some facts remain in dispute, at every moment when judgment was called for, Edwards made the wrong choice…. My mistake about John Edwards was believing all his public boasts about his nearly perfect marriage. I allowed myself to judge him through the prism of his union with Elizabeth when I would have reached a far different conclusion if I had gazed through the lens of his dalliance with Rielle Hunter.’ ‘If there is a moral here (other than the obvious truism about the danger of women who inspire Jay McInerney novels), it is about the need for humility when writing about a candidate’s marriage, his religious beliefs and other deeply personal matters. There are things that reporters and readers simply cannot know for certain without empowering journalistic gumshoes to do bed checks.’
But you didn’t do it! ‘My mistake…was believing all of his public boasts…?’ ‘Twenty-first-century Americans are not, for the most part, sexual prudes, as should be apparent from prime-time TV shows, polls and a persuasive array of anecdotal evidence. But we have created a political culture in which marriages are on the ballot in November. Michelle Obama’s center-stage role on the opening night of the Democratic Convention is emblematic of this buy-one-get-one-free trend that began with Ronald and Nancy Reagan.’ Ronald and Nancy Reagan? ‘FDR was a great president and Eleanor Roosevelt was a pioneering figure without either of them prattling endlessly about the idyllic state of their marriage.’ They couldn’t talk about the idyllic state of their marriage because it wasn’t idyllic! It’s very simple.
See, here’s the point, ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Shapiro does not realize how hysterical this is. I know how hard it must have been for him to write this. He’s basically saying, ‘I was no good. I was incompetent. I bought the story I wanted to believe,’ and that’s the key. This story about Edwards and Rielle Hunter is actually a larger story about the Drive-By Media. Because political candidates have had affairs, come and go. This, ladies and gentlemen, the Drive-By factor in this is going to survive a lot longer than the news that Edwards had an affair, because as Mr. Shapiro as owned up to — as Mr. Shapiro here as honestly admitted — the Drive-Bys fell in love with the Edwards story. So did a lot of you! So did a lot of people. They fell in love with the Edwards story. You didn’t fall in love with Edwards. You didn’t fall in love with Elizabeth. You fell in love with the story they concocted, and it was a story they concocted!
Now, when they find out that it was all just a story that they bought — the template, the narrative; they believed what they want to believe — they’re so surprised to find him to be totally lacking, which brings us to their latest crush: The Messiah. They’re going to be broken-hearted over Obama, too, one way or the other. So, they fell in love with the Edwards story. What else do they not want to see about Obama? They didn’t want to see anything but what they wanted to see with Edwards. It’s ditto for Obama, ’cause they don’t know anything about him. So they’re believing the story that they themselves are helping craft in Obama’s case, because his candidacy is ‘historic,’ and they want to be part of this historic campaign, and they want to be able to say they made history.
And in the process, what do they not want to know about Obama? And I’ll guarantee you, they don’t want to know because then they would have to report it. That’s why he tried to soft-pedal Jeremiah Wright, soft-pedal all this, because they don’t want to know it, because they don’t want to write it. They want to write a myth. They want to promulgate a legend and a myth about Obama. You would think now, if there are a number of them like Walter Shapiro, they’d say, ‘Gee, did I really blow this!’ do you think they’ll have the intelligence to ask themselves they might be making the same mistake with Obama? Not that he’s having an affair. I don’t mean that. But I guarantee you this guy is not who they think and hope he is, in terms of qualifications.
RUSH: By the way, I would like to correct Mr. Walter Shapiro on one thing. He asserts in his apology column for totally misjudging Edwards that the ‘buy one, get one free,’ the first lady as a presidential partner in ‘an idyllic marriage’ started with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s not fool ourselves, shall we? We know where this began. This began with JFK and Jackie, and the Drive-Bys called it Camelot — and you know what else the Drive-Bys knew back then? They knew that John Edwards couldn’t hold a candle to JFK when it came to philandering. They knew it! They knew it, and they looked past it. They didn’t write about it, because back then those kinds of invasions of privacy about Democrats were not permitted. So how in the world, Mr. Shapiro…? I don’t know if you were around then. You have to have been around during the days of Camelot. I don’t know if you were an adult reporting back then, but how can you dump on poor old Edwards for misleading you? Would it have changed your mind if you knew he was having the affair?
See, it would, because they bought the story. They bought the story that Edwards and Elizabeth were this dream couple, this dream family living in their 28,000-square-foot little neighborhood house. But they knew that JFK was running around with Marilyn Monroe, and who the hell knows who else. Judith Exner. They knew all of this, and they still hold JFK in the highest regard. There were naked swimming pool parties in the White House and outside the White House, and at the Carlyle Hotel in New York. I mean, there were things going on there that you wouldn’t believe and back then they were celebrated. ‘Ah, it doesn’t affect anything.’ But how they can now dump on poor old Edwards while supporting, and in full knowledge of, JFK — and then to say that all this began with Ronald and Nancy Reagan? It’s just irresponsible.