How many votes is cancer worth?

David Soler

$90,000 won within five hours. $1.2 million in total recaudations. Is this the first day’s box office of Jurassic Park 4? True Lies 2?

No. It’s the amount of money John Edwards’ exploratory committee for his 2008 presidential bid gained as a result of his wife’s full disclosure. And what type of disclosure? A political initiative or the like?

Wrong again. Elizabeth Edwards disclosed that her breast cancer metastasized and spread to one of her ribs.

Political strategists hail this movement as the right one. They say her acknowledgment will improve the public overall awareness about the disease and turn cancer into a less fatalistic disease, helping her husband’s odds for nomination. Indeed, can a disease successfully improve John Edwards’ odds to become the president?

In the present arena race for the ambivalent position of world’s No. 1 ruler and No. 1 global buffoon, seamlessness is far from being the required asset to get the white throne. If a candidate, let’s say, is too-smooth-rich-handsome-eloquent-articulate and married to an attractive woman (Mitt Romney, for example) well, then critics are going to pummel him for being precisely.too perfect for the job. Then, what’s required?

It seems as if for the present race, the successful candidate would need to have a chink in the armor, some burden or problem which can attract the right amount of criticism while being able to convince the public that it can be solved eventually. And what better contingency than an unchosen, non-behavioral disease as breast cancer?

Now, Edwards has an unique opportunity to show the public he is fit for the job. Will he be able to take care of his ill wife while running his political campaign? For the American’s materialistic-simplisitic mentality, this could be the proof-of-concept required for the final “yes-I-want-him-there” action on the election day. Inasmuch, in a further torque, could we speculate that Kerry’s 2004 defeat was a direct hit from his too-perfect clumsiness versus Bush’s too-imperfect ineptitude that eventually helped him win the laymen sympathy?

But all this cheap speculation could easily go down the sink if John Edwards chooses to be faithful to his last May promise that Elizabeth Edwards’ worsening health would be the only thing that could prevent him from running. Doing this, according to Boston University journalism professor Elizabeth Mehren, “he would be seen as a hero, like a noble man standing by his woman.” And that’s probably what his political opponents are waiting for. After all, heroes are engraved in sullen walls and quoted in remote bylines but not competing actively against you for a stardom place in history.

In this moment of extreme sorrow, the Edwardses could show the public how to turn a mistakenly believed fatal disease into something worth fight for; a good cause, like aspiring to be the president of the United States.

David Soler is a biomedical sciences graduate and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].