The unseemly Edwards scandal refuses to go away. There are a lot of reasons not to write about it, but a couple of important points need to be made. One is that an investigation into John Edwards and his campaign is valid and vital. Even if a candidate flames out, he or she should be made to show that campaign finance laws were obeyed throughout the failed effort. Those laws, flimsy though they sometimes are, protect democracy. Shrugging off illegal payments to phony employees just because the campaign went nowhere is just another way to say those laws don’t really matter, no one really cares. We should all care that election laws are obeyed by winners and losers alike.
The second point I have to make about all this Edwards business is a little trickier. It’s hard to criticize someone who is ill, but I’m going to do it. Why, Elizabeth? Why write this book now? Why tell us it’s “complicated” when asked if you still love your husband? How self-serving can one individual be? It wasn’t hard to stand around banging on about how much you loved him and how great he was when it meant you had a national platform, when it meant you might one day live in the White House. Why is it hard now that we know you were both lying to us throughout the 2008 campaign? Why was it so easy for so long to lie to so many people when you knew the truth all along?
In the interest of sisterhood, I really have to take issue with Elizabeth Edwards refusing to use John’s mistress’s name. The woman has a name, it’s Rielle Hunter. We all know that much. Why would someone try to sell a book, a large measure of interest in which is generated by another woman, and refuse to call that woman by name? Mrs. Edwards doesn’t need the money, she can only be after the attention. Revenge is a dish best served cold, lady, but this is absolute zero. Trading on interest in John and Rielle’s affair, and in the child she subsequently bore, and saying things like, ‘she’s not like us; we’re old-fashioned people’ is just mean. Rielle Hunter may be a New Age slag, but she’s not out there trying to make money off Elizabeth while calling her “her”, “that woman”, and, real nice, “pathetic”. No one expects a wife to be nice to the woman who slept with her husband, but that’s a great time to say nothing at all, at least not publicly. It’s not the time to write a book and race around getting publicity, calling the other woman every name but her own. Stay home and take it out on your lame husband, he’s got nowhere to go.
Finally, as usual, the hardest cheese is reserved for the person least able to fend for herself. Mrs. Edwards can’t say for sure that her husband is not the father of Rielle Hunter’s daughter, so she should refrain from commenting. Calling the baby “it” is simply dreadful. She’s a person, the one true innocent in this whole sad affair. She should remain off limits. Actually, she should be acknowledged and loved by her father, whoever he is. All children deserve that, this daughter no less than any other. Elizabeth Edwards must know that. If not, she’s sorrier than she’s made herself out to be on this truly pathetic PR blitz.