I was saddened to hear that Elizabeth Edwards had passed away. Certainly she provided inspiration to all those suffering from cancer with her courage and grace in confronting the disease head on and working hard to fulfill her calling as best she could. The President had this to say:

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Elizabeth Edwards. This afternoon I spoke to Cate Edwards and John Edwards, and offered our family’s condolences.

I came to know and admire Elizabeth over the course of the presidential campaign. She was a tenacious advocate for fixing our health care system and fighting poverty, and our country has benefited from the voice she gave to the cause of building a society that lifts up all those left behind.

In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain. Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up.

But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

Certainly the whole drama surrounding her and John Edwards, former Senator and presidential hopeful, is a tragic tale indeed. It’s clear that John’s decision to have an affair and love child while his wife publicly battled cancer and while he was running for president undercut a powerful message of Two Americas — one growing increasingly wealthy and one sinking under the weight of deteriorating education and employment opportunities that our nation needed.

It’s not so clear how America would have reacted if John and Elizabeth Edwards had been black. Right now the conversation tends to center around whether politicians can ever be trusted, if you can believe their moral message and if men in power inevitably tend to stray from their marriage. No one’s talking about the now common experience of adultery in American marriages, making the Edwards a very normal couple indeed.

From Wikipedia:

Some researchers say there’s a 50–50 chance today that one partner will have an affair during a marriage including non-physical relationships.[1] It is estimated that roughly 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage.[3] Some authorities (for example Frank Pittman in ‘Grow Up’ (Golden Books)) observe infidelity is involved in 90% of first time divorces. A 1997 study with Kristina Gordon found “more than half of the marriages that experience infidelity ended in divorce”.

27% of people who reported being happy in marriage admitted to having an affair.[4]

So….there’s that, right? So, that’s a conversation America seems reluctant to have, perhaps because it hits so close to home. Touches a nerve re: widespread creepin’. Yet, I’m willing to bet that if Barack stepped out on Michelle, the conversation would revolve much more on the dysfunction of the black American family and the stereotypical trifling nature of African-American men in general. Anyone else feelin’ me on that? Is there a double standard when we talk about black, whites and the state of their marriages? Is there a larger national discourse we should be having about marriage in America … ?

(photo: Reuters)

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