Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Great Hair Ticket


As the tabloidization of the American psyche proceeds, each new sensation
heaves into view the ghosts of sensations past.  I have been reminded of how
this operates by the attention even the more august papers have been giving the
last few weeks to the court testimony of Cheri and Andrew Young.  Young was
the aide whose adoration for Senator John Edwards was such that he agreed to
'fess up that he himself was the father of the baby that Edwards sired with his
adventurous mistress, Rielle Hunter.  Edwards was the vice-presidential
candidate John Kerry picked in 2004.

As things happened, I had a sort of remote advisorial role in the Kerry cam-
paign, and found myself more and more taken aback by the extent to which
the leaders of the ticket seemed to be cruising along, disinterested in political
reality.  While he was still angling for the Democratic nomination I suggested
to Kerry that he consider disavowing his vote for the resolution to go into Iraq,
which was already turning into a fratricidal disaster.  He dug a long forefinger
into my chest and lectured me on consistency.  A year later, when photos of
the Senator were being released to the newspapers featuring him hang-gliding
in a wet suit off some soigne overseas beach while the Bush brothers in shirt-
sleeves were handing out bottles of water after the Punta Gorda hurricane, I
questioned the p.r. implications of that.  Nothing registered.

I go into this to suggest the obliviousness that tends to overtake political
candidates once they are into their campaign burn.  I suppose something like
that happened with John Edwards.  His girl friend's pregnancy must have
seemed like just another awkward detail, something the staff could fix.  And-
rew Young apparently stepped forward.  The participant who surprised me
here was Rachel -- Bunny -- Mellon.  I spent five years during the seventies
hanging around Paul Mellon in preparation for writing The Mellon Family.
Bunny, Paul's wife, was certainly no pushover.  A natural manager, she latched
onto Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once Jack was headed toward the White
House and designed the Rose Gardens.  Bunny could take on anybody.

Perhaps in her nineties she softened up.  Still, her nephew, a long-time friend,
tells me that even now, at one-hundred plus, Bunny is still adroit, still tending
her gardens at Upperville.  Perhaps in the cavalier John Edwards she spied
another JFK.  What did a little womanizing amount to at those social alt-
itudes? The lawyers could deal with the rest of it.

Google has rejiggered the format of this blog again.  Please forgive any irre-
gularities.  And Godspeed.

Burton Hersh


  1. No comment. Well, maybe one. Impulsivity, poor judgment and willfully self-destructive acts are constant threats to normal life in our modern social structure.

    Forgiveness, transcends politics and religion in my opinion to provide civilized society with a gentle counter-balance to these threats. It is a person's self-centered, power-lusting, narcissistic need to lie and enlist the knowing and unknowing aid of others where the more diabolical characters and catastrophic consequences emerge.

  2. Perhaps Ms. Mellon was motivated, at least in part, by empathy for Elizabeth Edwards? Having heard Ms. Edwards speak in Hillsborough NH, I thought the distaff side of that couple would have made the better President.

  3. Don't forget that Elizabeth Edwards was aware of the problem before the torturous public decision to carry on the campaign despite her diagnosis. That says something about the couple's desire for power I think.


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