Sick People Make Him Uncomfortable
Yes, Rush Limbaugh is a pig, and nobody was surprised when he started slinging mud at Elizabeth and John Edwards immediately following their announcement that her cancer had returned. It's what he's paid to do. His job is to make fun of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease — to interject the unspeakable in to the public discourse that gives the lizard brains irrational rationale to keep on thinking what they want to think. And because he does it on behalf of power, he will pay no price. Someone on the left doing the same thing would be pilloried and banished, but Rush is sanctioned to be an out-of-control id, an omnivorous, self-indulgent glutton whose rapacious apetities can not be satiated.
As Olbermann says, unless decency comes in pill form, it just isn't something Rush is going to manifest.
Jay Carney, on the other hand, is not paid to be a professional pig, he's supposed to appear "reasonable." He obviously took a lot of shit for his patronizing piece on Elizabeth Edwards, and thus decided to revisit it. As did Ana Marie Cox, who also wrote at Swampland:
First of all, this framework presents what might be — in the eyes of both John and Elizabeth — a false choice. From all they've told us, the Edwards family sees those duties (as husband, as father, as candidate), as overlapping. Surely, one reason John Edwards is running for president because he wants to be a part of creating a better world for his family. Which brings us to the second problem: The decision to keep the campaign going was not John Edwards' alone to make. (And I find the presumption that it could be startlingly archaic.) John may find himself pulled to simply concentrate on his family, but I think Elizabeth would push back. I think she already has.
Is that decision selfish, given that the couple has two small children? I can't say — and I'm not sure if anyone who doesn't know the family can — but I don't think it's a question with a standard answer. The family already has been through two grueling campaigns, so I think they know what lies ahead in that realm.
It's a very thoughtful piece, and I think she gets to the heart of the matter — nobody can say what they would do in the Edwards' shoes, because they alone know their situation and what will work best for them. But that doesn't stop Carney from trying:
Everyone will come at this question from his or her own personal perspective. As the parent of two young children, I know I couldn't make the same decision that the Edwards made.
He then drifts off into some rambling justification about how much his kids mean to him, blah blah blah, as if supposedly the Edwards' must stand in stark contrast to his strong feelings of parental responsibility.
Okay, here we go. if Jay Carney is a cancer survivor, it's surprising he didn't mention it, so I'm going to assume he's not, and seriously I doubt he or anyone else who has never heard a doctor use the big "c" word can reliably predict how they would respond. I've frankly never heard a cancer survivor who said "yeah, it was pretty much just like I thought it would be." One of the many problems people with cancer face is the quote-unquote "well meaning" concerns of friends who have had an aunt or a sister or a parent who had cancer and thus know all about it and therefore what you should do. And sometimes you have to accommodate those feelings because they are very strong and you realize that your disease strikes others when it strikes you. But in your heart you know that much of this need to "control" stems from issues they haven't faced within themselves that have absolutely nothing to do with you.
As Atrios said:
People who get a serious illness, or become disabled, lose both their agency and their humanity in the eyes of many. They become freaks who have to prove they are human in every interaction, and have to reassert their own agency at every moment.
For some reason the most natural and seemingly healthy impulse – to go on with your life as you had intended to the best of your ability – seems to be the most alien to those not experiencing a tragic illness.
Does Carney know for sure he wouldn't wake up one day and see a look of terror in his kids' eyes, who know something is wrong because Daddy's just lying around the house in his bathrobe, and catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror and realize this thing had beaten him? Does he know for a fact that he would not grab his clothes and rush out the door and — I don't know — run for President or something, because right then at that moment what he and his kids needed more than anything in the world was to have them look at him and see a whole, functioning, healthy, vibrant human being with a passion for living? I can't say, but I seriously doubt he can, either.
Carney is a "concern troll" whose issues probably eclipse those of Elizabeth Edwards, and the longing for her to just get off the national stage and out of his line of sight is quite self-serving, and dragging his kids into it — invoking "other parents" as if this somehow elevates both his sentiments and the discussion — is pretty repellent.
I hope Carney never finds out what it's like to hear the "c" word, but from experience I can tell you that it's unlike anything you anticipate. One day you might just find yourself throwing up your hands and saying to everyone's surprise — including your own — "what I'm doing with my life right now feels irrelevant, the world is in a bad place so I think I'll start a blog."
You never know.