The Devil and John Edwards:
It's an old story, you know. That, after death, a soul must sometimes wrestle the Devil in order to get into the gates of heaven. In the mountains of North Carolina, this legend takes on a tangible reality because, see, after someone died, a pottery jug with a face on it, say a devil face, was placed on the grave. If, within a year, the jug broke, it meant that the soul was wrestling with the Devil and needed the prayers of the living to set the soul free. Moving from Appalachian folklore to Jungian archetypes, when one wrestles the devil, one is fighting one's own demons, the worser parts of our selves that we must defeat in order to move on with our lives. It is interesting, however, to note that the figure of the Devil appears in these contexts, and that a human (or a human soul) can never truly be free until one faces down the Devil. And we all know that that motherfucker fights with everything he's got. Which, in a not-so-roundabout way, brings us to last night's debate between the Devil and John Edwards.

O, how the Devil danced last night -- mouth agape, eyes agog, tongue lolling around his mouth. Good God, how the Devil danced, farting and belching, flicking snot in the direction of his opponent. When the Devil spat out, "Whatever the political pressures of the moment requires, that's where you're at," he wanted the acid sting of his saliva to tear holes in the unflappable veneer of Edwards. The Devil's spit is poison, you know, filled with bile and worm droppings and viscous mucous from the burning lava fountains of Hades.

O, how the Devil came to Cleveland to dine, dine on the delicate, delicious body of Edwards, to suck the marrow from the bones of youth. The Devil is an old man; he has seen much; he must have, considering all of the evil he has committed. The Devil sees his age as a tribute to the life-giving vivacity of evil and doom. The Devil wanted to make sure he made Edwards seem like a whippersnapper compared with the wisdom of the ancient: "I'm not worried about what some precinct committeemen in Iowa were thinking of me with respect to the next round of caucuses of 2008." Young people everywhere should be chilled at the Devil's attitude towards them. Despite being fifty-one years-old, Edwards was their surrogate last night, and the Devil time and again attempted to portray youthfulness as equivalent with irrelevance, lies, and idiocy. The Devil hates the young, except as they provide him with blood and hearts to keep his human form whole so that it doesn't collapse into a fetid, gelatinous heap on the floor, a corpse already decayed from the inside out.

O, how the Devil is a liar, a fraud, a misshapen freak in a suit. The reason that people believe the Devil is that he speaks his lies with low, soothing voice of one who is telling the truth. And with the conviction that his lies are reality. Many of the lies have already been dealt with, like the fact that, despite the Devil's line, "The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight," he has met Edwards on two occasions, at least. (And the Devil's minions have called the Prayer Breakfast meeting "inconsequential." Well, of course such an event has no consequence - he's the Devil.) Or the fact that when the Devil said, "A great many of our small businesses pay taxes under the personal income taxes rather than the corporate rate. And about 900,000 small businesses will be hit if you do, in fact, do what they want to do with the top bracket," what is true is that only half that number would be affected, and those are mostly people who work alone, maybe selling on E-Bay, and not really producing any, say, jobs. And let's not even get into the Devil's lies about Iraq (that will be discussed here tomorrow). Instead, let's deal with this bright, shiny lie: that El Salvador was a beacon of democracy that the Devil adored back during the Reagan adminstration. The Reagan-backed Jose Napoleon Duarte was "elected" in 1984 after years of left-wing guerilla action and right-wing government-backed death squads killed tens of thousands of people. The United States provided El Salvador with the largest Air Force in Central America, which in the first quarter of 1985, made more than a hundred bomb attacks of civilian opposition areas. Thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands were turned into refugees. One can be sure that the vast majority of those people didn't give a happy rat's ass about democracy. But the Devil was there, he assured us last night, the Devil was there to make sure it happened just the way it did. Goddamn, how those souls must have felt like fresh air being inhaled by the Devil. And, motherfuck, if he doesn't tell us he's gonna do the same in Iraq.

O, how Edwards wrestled the Devil last night. How he confronted the Devil with facts and strength and courage. It really is the only way to truly wrestle the Devil. And the best one can hope for when one wrestles the Devil is a draw, 'cause the Devil will always lie and connive and kick you in the nuts and bite your nose and piss on your face in order to win. When the Devil accused Edwards of demeaning the contribution of Iraqis to the "peace" effort in that country, the Rude Pundit thought the Devil might take another tasty soul to Hell. But Edwards fought back, showing the world the evil the Devil was trying to hide. When Edwards said, "He voted against the Department of Education. He voted against funding for Meals on Wheels for seniors. He voted against a holiday for Martin Luther King. He voted against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa," the Devil was grimly shaken, caught, for just a second, in his own web of deceit.

The Devil's moment in the sunlight is gone now. He can disappear again into the miasma and mire of his minions, who shield him from the light of day where his horns are obvious. Where, whenever he talks about death and destruction, he can proudly show his erection and not have to hide it under a table. But the Devil was wrestled while those of us who recognize the Devil had our prayers answered. Edwards sent the Devil away, no stronger than he was before, but no less evil and vile and mad.