The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

WHO NEEDS REALITY TV?

With the twists and turns coming out of the John Edwards trial in North Carolina, this is real life stuff that makes reality television look dull and boring.

The former Senator and contender for the Democratic Primary nomination as President of the United States in 2008 is still awaiting a verdict from a jury of his peers over the question of misappropriation of funds for use in his unsuccessful campaign.  As you may recall, he was the Vice-Presidential nominee of his party in the 2004 election.

The following comes from “The Daily Beast” – an internet news source:

“Peculiar behavior from some jury members has commanded special attention. The eight-man, four-woman panel sits in an elevated jury box on the right side of the courtroom. The four alternates—one man and three bubbly young women—are escorted daily to their seats on the left side of the expansive room, and are measurably more upbeat. On Thursday, as the happy-faced alternates bounced into their seats, each was wearing a bright yellow shirt. A curious coincidence? One, a pretty 20-something pharmacist, was seen smiling broadly in the direction of the defense table.”

“On Friday, the alternates’ shirts were once again in sync, this time a bright red. The brunette pharmacist’s form-fitting top covered only one shoulder, and again she seemed to be smiling directly at John Edwards. Then, as the main jury was brought into the room, whispers broke out in the gallery when two of the jurors were spotted also wearing red. Juror No. 7 seemed to be smiling over at the alternates. Reporters were left to wonder whether it was some sort of signal, perhaps, or a sign of solidarity. Even John Edwards had ditched the green tie he’d worn on each of the previous three days of trial in favor of —you guessed it— a red tie. It was certainly distracting, and Judge Eagles had to have noticed.”

“There was a surprise twist at the end of Friday’s session when Eagles suddenly announced she had “a juror matter to discuss” with the attorneys and ordered the room emptied of media and the public. Thirty-five minutes later all parties filed back in and a much more subdued group of alternates took their seats as did the 12 regular jurors. The panelists were given the usual warning by the judge not to discuss the case with anyone or read or watch any media reports about it. But Judge Eagles added an extra admonishment at this time: “As you walk back to your cars you should not talk about the case in small groups.” No further explanation was given, and spectators left wondering what coordinated color—if any—the jurors might choose to wear when deliberations resume.”

Apparently Judge Eagles has conducted this case in a very fair-handed manner and the fact that she was sufficiently concerned about possible inappropriate conversations among the jurors should be sobering to all of us who believe in our judicial system.  But as disturbing as this is, it is minor compared to another point that “The Daily Beast” brings out in its coverage of this story.  That speaks directly to the character of the man who, if circumstances had been different, might have been the President of the United States.

At the center of this case is the question of whether Senator Edwards accepted donations from Mrs. Rachael “Bunny” Mellon to hide from his wife, who was dying of cancer, the fact that he was having an affair – or were those funds actually being used to fund his campaign in violation of Federal election law.

The article continues:

“…The Daily Beast asked graphologist Sheila Kurtz to examine one particularly memorable piece of evidence: exhibit 912.2 (PDF), a handwritten note on a personalized stationary card from John Edwards to Mrs. Rachel “Bunny” Mellon—one of two sources of funds at the center of the case—thanking the patroness for her hospitality. The corresponding envelope is dated Dec. 7, 2005. The handwriting on the short note is a combination of odd angled block letters and an unreadable signature.

“Kurtz, the director and president of Graphology Consulting Group, has analyzed samples of Edwards’s handwriting in the past, and provided a written evaluation of what she called Edwards’s “motley script.”

“If ever there was a handwriting that sets off alarm bells and sirens, it is the creepy penmanship of former senator John Edwards,” Kurtz wrote. “The most blatant characteristic of the writing is that it slants every which way, without any rhyme or reason whatsoever. There is no consistency, and there is no balance. These are the warning signals of an off-kilter and erratic mind that is floundering without a compass.”

“Even a layman can see the unconnected letters and the strange angles of the note.”

“There are tent-like structures (such as in the word “had” in the first sentence and in the word “forward” as last word on fourth line down) that signal a devoted stubbornness,” Kurtz wrote. “He will cling to a position he may know is dead wrong, until the last dog is hung.”

“For the jury, of course, Edwards’s stubbornness to continue his illicit affair with a staff videographer named Rielle Hunter, even after several loyal staffers and his wife demanded he stop, was well established during this month long trial.”

“Kurtz and her staff first analyzed Edwards’s writing four years ago as he was vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. “I and my colleagues knew immediately that we were examining a handwriting whose writer we wouldn’t recommend for a midnight-to-eight security job at an empty warehouse,” Kurtz recalls. “The handwriting clearly belonged to an unstable, conniving, furtive, shallow creep.”

That final paragraph and particularly the last sentence really sent chills up my spine.  In fairness, to Senator Edwards, I don’t know Ms. Kurtz and there might be other graphologists whose interpretation of his handwriting might differ from hers.  Nor do I know if she has a personal agenda regarding the Senator.  However, the Senator himself might have provided some substantiation for her analysis in the behavior he exhibited in his personal life and marriage.

With the jury set to resume deliberations the day after Memorial Day, I will turn off reality television and stay tuned to the Edwards trial.  It promises to be far more intriguing.

And if I have learned anything from all this it is that all my communications in the future will be via email.  (I can only wonder what deep and hidden secrets my handwriting might reveal about me).

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