There’s an old joke about a man whose job it is to sweep up after the elephants in a circus. The joke goes that he was complaining about how terrible his job was, sweeping up cow dung and peanut shells, low pay, bad hours, under appreciated. After listening to his tirade, he is asked why he doesn’t quit, if he hates his job in the circus so much. “What?” the man asks, “And leave show business?”
Show business, even in the outer fringes, meant more to this man than his self respect, it would seem.
Politics, the ultimate form of show business, seems to have the same effect on those in its inner circles.
It would appear there is no level too low, no task too demeaning, nothing some people would not do to stay in the game. To get or to remain ‘Inside the Beltway’ is apparently enough incentive to entice a person to do just about anything. Or to admit to anything, even things they did not do.
Last week, John Edwards admitted to fathering a child with a woman who worked for him during his unsuccessful run for president. This hardly came as a surprise. He had already admitted to the relationship with the staffer, and since she did in fact have a baby soon afterward, it was hardly rocket science to put the two things, the affair and the subsequent child, into a time line that made Edwards’ paternity evident.
A campaign trail liaison is hardly unchartered waters. Neither is a child fathered by a politician and mothered by someone other than his wife. What fascinates me about the entire episode — I just can’t use the term ‘affair,’ the pun is too easy — is Andrew Young, Edwards’ former campaign manager, who stepped forward during the debacle and claimed he was the father of the child.
You can’t make this stuff up.
This is dedication from an employee beyond anything I can imagine. A lot of people love their jobs, go above and beyond for their bosses and their company. They will work long hours, weekends, holidays. I have known people who took work home to be finished ‘off the clock,’ without any compensation. I have spent time at home writing, as any reporter has, simply because I like to do it. I have left my childrens’ soccer games to chase a story (good reporter, bad mommy). Doctors miss family gatherings to attend to emergencies, teachers stay after school to help struggling students, firemen go into burning buildings. People who do what they love for a living are willing to go the extra mile, to do more than is required or expected of them.
But to announce to the world, and it was the whole world, since it was major media fodder, that you are the baby-daddy to your boss’s illegitimate child? Man, this dude should have this on his resume! This is beyond running personal errands for your employer on your lunch hour or ordering his wife flowers on his wedding anniversary.
This is even more than letting your boss take credit for an idea that was yours or even putting up with sexual harassment — it compares to jumping on a grenade or when the priest in The Exorcist gets the Devil to leave the child’s body by telling Lucifer, “Come into me!” It is taking the term work ethic to a whole new level.
That kind of dedication and sacrifice cannot be bought.
One story said Edwards went so far as to ask Young (along with Young’s wife, no less) to steal one of the infant’s diapers as part of a DNA strategy, although how that would work, I’m not quite sure. This was evidently where Young drew the line; he ignored that request.
The irony is that the employee, Andrew Young, is really, when you look at his track record, a failure. He was Edwards’ campaign manager, yet Edwards campaign was not successful in procuring the Democratic nomination, much less the presidency. Young was the manager of a losing campaign.
And, to add insult to injury, the political pundits say the reason Edwards simply didn’t go home to his palatial North Carolina home with his political tail tucked between his legs after he failed to get the nomination was simple ambition. He had lost the nomination, but still hoped to find a role to play in the new administration. It is said that, although he had admitted to having an affair during his ill-fated campaign, he still hoped to be named Attorney General, and that was when Young stepped up to the plate, or up to the bassinet, to claim the child as his. Which, once again, didn’t work, Edwards was not named to that position.
As a matter of fact, his poll numbers, the quantitative amount that he is liked or disliked by the country, are the lowest rating of any politician, ever. Let me repeat that: the lowest of any politician, ever. Including Nixon, for goodness sake, or George W. Bush.
So maybe Andrew Young shouldn’t mention the specifics of his sacrifice on his resume. Perhaps he could gloss over the whole thing, just say that he was in fact part of a large political campaign, that he showed enthusiasm and supported his employer with abandon, that he did everything in his power to prove his dedication and support and that he will follow orders. He will do what he is told, no matter what.
Even in this economy with millions of people out of work, surely there is an organization out there looking to hire such a highly qualified scapegoat.