Why, Mrs. Edwards?

Elizabeth and John EdwardsThe 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.


  1. Rob Schofield

    May 6, 2009 at 11:01 am

    As usual, AV, you’re right on the money. All involved would be better served if they just shut up, stopped worrying about themselves and spent their time and resources on the kids.

  2. Adam Searing

    May 6, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Second that.

  3. gabriel

    May 6, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Great commentary. Even those of us who once really cared for this couple cannot help but ask, “Why?” All seems most self-serving.

  4. old social worker

    May 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    When angry, narcissistic people cannot resolve their marital issues, separate or communicate, they expand their audience to include therapists, lawyers, clergy, family, friends and anyone else who will listen. And to hell with the kids and the family reputation.

    When said narcissist is famous, anyone else who will listen usually includes a publisher and Oprah.

    Despite her folksy proclamation, Elizabeth Edwards isn’t old-fashioned at all. Her behavior isn’t modest, dignified or circumspect. No, she’s merely another modern celebrity out to settle scores and make money.

  5. Mimi

    May 6, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Maybe she needs the cash to pay a divorce attorney!

  6. Jamie

    May 7, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Thank you for actually pointing out that this child needs a father and if that is John Edwards it is long past time for him to step up! And Elizabeth’s attitude toward the baby is a complete disgrace.

    I have come to the conclusion that they deserve each other. When your behavior makes Rielle Hunter look classy, it’s time to take a step back!

  7. NCGirl

    May 7, 2009 at 7:37 am

    John said Elizabeth was told about it before he announced his candidacy (for which she was broadly skewered, as a traitor to the Democratic party and American people); now Elizabeth says she was told after his announcement. So which liar is lying? who is the bigger narcissist?

  8. suzanne

    May 7, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I can’t for the life of me understand why Elizabeth has written this book- why she is dragging her children through this tawdry mess. And why now when she should be spending what time is left with her children. Is is all about getting revenge on John and the girlfriend? Or is there another possible reason: does she hope the book will sell like crazy to leave her children greater financial independence after she is gone?

  9. Mary

    May 7, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I think the whole point is to humiliate Rielle and prevent any future relationship between John and Rielle after Elizabeth is gone.

  10. BettyH

    May 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Elizabeth Edwards has helped a great many people deal with the pain of losing a child. She has helped countless more face living with cancer. Her most recent book will help a lot of women who know what it is like to face infidelity. Her book will help women feel that it is OK to feel confused, and that even a brilliant and accomplished woman like Elizabeth has to take things one day at a time. I say God bless her.

    She does not mention Ms. Hunter’s name for legal reasons.

    I wonder how much money Ms. Hunter was paid by the National Enquirer for quotes that John Edwards had promised to be with her after Elizabeth Edwards is dead? I hope she was paid a lot, because that is the coldest thing I have ever heard of.

  11. Mimi

    May 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    After thinking about this a little bit more, perhaps Elizabeth is trying to provide for her children. She anticipate an early death and if her husband does have another child, perhaps she’s worried that his resources will go to that child versus hers. So, maybe she’s written a tawdry book to make a lot of money to leave to her children. If so, the subject matter is no less distasteful but I could sure understand her reasoning.

  12. mary ann liebert

    May 7, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Both Elizaabeth Edwards and Rielle Hunter have been abused by John Edwards, who is hell bent on moving his career forward again.
    Elizabeth Edwards has the right to do whatever makes her feel better. Rielle Hunter has the right to do whatever makes her feel better.
    John Edwards? Any group that hires him as a speaker should be chastized. He is totally immoral.

  13. Pollyanna

    May 7, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    I agree, what a nightmare interview. Mrs. Edwards, did not talk about helping others in this interview, as she usually does. This was all “me” “me” “me”. I guess helping others was just BS during 2 presidential campaigns. This book is all about Mrs. Edwards revenge on Ms. Hunter & her husband. Anyone who buys this book is funding that obnoxious house, lawyers for god knows what, paying a mistress etc…all BAD things. Listen I supported these people & just adored them. I am in shock at all of this, I contributed years of my life to their really 4 campaigns (if you include the primaries). I really believed in them. If you live long enough EVERYONE will disappoint you (that’s the name of my new book.) Hello Oprah!

  14. George

    May 7, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I am shocked at some of these posts. EE did what was right for her and her family. She said, clearly, she did not want the mistress’ name mentioned since the mistress was evidently looking for the limelight. I agree.

    It is a tragedy for the Edwards’ family, caused by John, but initiated by THAT woman. As EE said, her life is pathetic — trying to jump into someone else’s life created after 30 years of work and effort is unforgiveable.

    This LATimes article tells the story, RH plotted this for months:


  15. thelma cynthia

    May 7, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    I was a little put off that she said if that child is her husbands
    its got nothing to do with her. If it is her husbands and I got
    a good idea its got to be, the child looks just like him. If
    that child is his and she is part of his life, them she wrong
    she will have alot to do with that child. That child is innocent.

  16. rcmpvern

    May 8, 2009 at 2:07 am

    It is easy to understand why people like Hans Von Spakovsky re-hashing John Edwards’ affair right now, but I do not know what motivates Elizabeth Edwards to do this now.
    There is an opening coming up on the Supreme Court, and John Edwards has a background in law and a history of defending people over corporations.
    He is the anti-John Roberts.

  17. Teresa

    May 8, 2009 at 3:05 am

    Elizabeth Edwards is playing the guilt card to the full and trying to make the world her witness. She is making her husband “pay”. Does she think this is the way she will get back her “former life”? Is this the legacy she wants to leave her children? Children should not be subject to the conflict between their parents. Not only has she exposed them to this but she has ensured that all the world knows and will not forget. Is that love? She says that she does not know how much longer she will live. If she really cared how her children will fare after she is gone, she would not expose them to this. Bringing down the esteem and love that they have for their father is the height of selfishness. She should be teaching them to love and forgive. And they need to love their father.
    Surely she has been having psychological help? I cannot imagine a psychologist encourage her to take the route she has chosen. She is hurting all those around her even more. She is doing this for herself and perhaps for her mother too.
    But she should have realized how destructive her path is….
    When will betrayed wives face the truth? They all seem to put their heads in the sand! Look at reality! Place “blame” where blame lies or admit there is no “blame”. If the husband strayed there is perhaps something wrong: 1. with the wife 2. with the husband 3. with the relationship Maybe he is genuinely in love with the other woman. Saying it is all the “fault” of the other woman is ridiculous. The other woman did not rape the husband! I guess it is the wife who lacks self esteem in many of these cases and to preserve her marriage at all costs she has to portray her husband as a vulnerable, spineless creature who unfortunately succumbed to the witch!
    The person who has shown the most dignity in this is surprisingly Rielle Hunter ( in spite of all the nasty things that have been said about her). Let’s hope that she maintains her dignified stance for herself and for her daughter.
    As for John Edwards, his behavior has been despicable. He has shown a complete lack of respect for all those around him. His wife, his lover and perhaps child. Let’s hope he finds some courage, because until now he seems to have lost control of his life and his decision making powers. Watching him on Oprah was embarrassing.

  18. Justine

    May 8, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I think Elizabeth is going for the jugular in this relationship between her husband and Riell. To her dying day she will try and destroy any chance of them having a relationship after she passes on. John and Riell would be totally villified after all this publicity with the release of her book. Elizabeth would never want her children being mothered by this women after her death. I don’t think she cares about John’s feelings and why would she. She has had more than enough to deal with being ill with cancer and coming to terms with her mortality. She is entitled to a little revenge. Her book and publicity is totally understandable. I don’t think it will make her feel any better however. Such a sad story – John is such a stupid man.

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