On NBC's Olympic coverage last night, Bob Costas told Michael Phelps's story of growing up outside Baltimore and focused on his mother Debbie in the stands. She was the emotional focus of the broadcast, outshining George Bush. The mini-documentary NBC aired described Debbie Phelps as a dedicated single mother and never mentioned Phelps's father. According to this old article in the Baltimore Sun, Phelps's father Fred is a hardworking man whose marriage to Debbie broke up in 1993, when the boy was eight years old. Till then he ferried the kid around to sporting events along with his wife.
There's too much shame in our culture for men who get divorced. I don't know why the Phelps parents broke up, I bet Bob Costas doesn't know. Fred Phelps surely deserves some of the credit for his son's phenomenal success. But there's no honor for him.
As there is none for John Edwards because he had an affair. But it was John Edwards who introduced economic fairness issues into this campaign, and had the most to say in the first few months of the campaign. Whatever he did with Rielle Hunter doesn't take away from his achievement this spring. His entire portion now is shame–that and a lot of psychobabble he is induced to regurgitate to explain the fact that he felt attracted to a woman. And a public stoning is now taking place, led by people who have no idea what John and Elizabeth Edwards's "home life," to use the old expression, consists of, let alone the understandings they have reached in a long and at times painful marriage (they lost a son), let alone a respect for what is private, personal human. Shame on the shamers. And don't start up about the money. It's always sordid, isn't it? We saw the same narrative with Spitzer: men are good, until they're evil.