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When good people, like JRE used to be, go bad, it's terrible.

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MonteLukast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-29-10 12:19 PM
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When good people, like JRE used to be, go bad, it's terrible.
John Kerry on Edwards: "This Isn't The Person I Campaigned With." link

It's wrong and disingenuous to say that JRE has "always" been like he is now. Perhaps the most devastating thing about this scandal is that we can't point to a time in his past when he gave signs he was going to turn out this way-- unlike Newt, Ensign, McCain, and even Clinton. And no, "being a slick trial lawyer" doesn't count.

He truly WAS a good, intelligent man of integrity who loved his family and his wife. He had withstood so many tests of character before. If HE goes to the dark side, what does that say about us? And most importantly, is there anything we can do to prevent such a transformation from happening to ourselves and our loved ones?

Most books like The Lucifer Effect focus on good people going bad in groups; it's been harder to find studies of people going bad individually.

The conditions that turn good people bad-- I've focused on factors that turn people bad on an individual basis:

Moral justification
Euphemistic labeling
Advantageous comparison
Displacement of responsibility
Disregard or distortion of consequences
Dehumanization (which I do not think applies to JRE)

The disregard or distortion of consequences really strikes me as the big one here, though I can count. In another baffling twist, this didn't use to be characteristic of JRE either. As a lawyer he was thorough almost to the point of obsession.

What if Kerry had won in 2004? According to "Game Change", that was the real turning point for JRE. Would being Vice President have made his ego worse? Or would Kerry's influence and the work of the office have kept him grounded?

It is extremely touching to me how Kerry reached out to Elizabeth-- even after she'd criticized him in Saving Grace-- and apparently still tried to keep both Edwardses in mind throughout, even though he only spoke to JRE twice.

Kerry, like Elizabeth, is a true friend. And if JRE's lost her, he's lost his best line of defense against the madness.

This is a big question we all need to ask, keeping Elizabeth in our hearts and minds:

What can we do to prevent a similar transformation from happening to ourselves and our loved ones?
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