Who’s Mad at Elizabeth Edwards?
I love Elizabeth Edwards, and I'm mad at her. I’m seriously biased towards this brilliant woman who has faced so many hardships with dignity and grace. Many of us at BlogHer had a thing for Mrs. Edwards; she spoke at the Conference in 2007 and was available for calls. When I interviewed her last April, I said, “I’m going to interview you for BlogHer.” She said, “thanks for doing that,” and I said “your fan base on BlogHer is beyond” and she said, “these are my people.”
When John Edwards’ affair was revealed, I wasn’t surprised at all. I never liked him. I was angry that both Edwards had dallied with America’s future by choosing not to reveal his affair and continuing in the presidential race. Mrs. Edwards tells Oprah that when she learned of the affair in December 2007, she asked John to get out of the race. And what did John do? “You know, I’ve just gotten in....Let it run its course and see if this woman’s a problem or not.”
Oh and the woman was a problem! Elizabeth Edwards maintains that Rielle Hunter, John Edwards’ mistress, was some kind of groupie stalker
“What John said is that this woman spotted him in the hotel in which he was staying. He was meeting someone in the restaurant bar area, and she verified with someone who he worked with that it was John. John went to dinner at a nearby restaurant, and when he walked back to the hotel she was standing in front of the hotel. She said to him, ‘You are so hot.’ ”
Hunter, who Edwards won’t name in any of her interviews or in her book, is the other woman, the harpy, the homewrecker. Elizabeth tells Oprah, “John and I are “old-fashioned” people.” And, she notes, Elizabeth wants to be remembered as a homemaker, not a lawyer or advocate. This is an about face for such a passionate public advocate who fought for smarter politics and political coverage.
But actually, I reread what I’d asked her. I asked her why so few women run for federal office. She said, it’s just hard for a woman to leave her family behind to serve in Washington:
“That’s how it is. I think there are just some things we have to say, that’s how it is. ….the way I’d like to improve it is I’d like to see the men to feel the same responsibility! I don’t want it to move in the other direction…I kind of think families ought to live together- that’s one of the things that makes us a family. Certainly as much as our blood makes us a family, living together makes us a family.
I don’t think we feel hesitation anymore whether we can be effective advocates, whether we can be effective candidates. I think it’s lifestyle that keeps us from running [for office]….If we had public financing we’d have a lot more people engaged.”
Here’s she’s talking about money in politics but is she also alluding to other corrosive aspects of public life? She’s maintaining the same theme we hear now: politics is a tough lifestyle.
In her interview with Oprah about the affair, Mrs. Edwards paints the whole situation as a byproduct of political life: “I knew there’d been a night. And I’d been around politicians long enough to figure there were a lot of people for whom there’d been a night.”
Edwards keeps blaming politics for the Edwards’ strange situation! As Mickey Kaus noted, “When Oprah remarks that hmm, she doesn’t know a lot of men who would run off to a hotel somewhere in the middle of the night to hold a baby that wasn’t theirs, she repeats her husband’s lie - or maybe he’d repeated hers: ‘Golly, then you don’t know that many politicians. We do it all the time. Holding babies is what we do.’”
And so apparently, is fighting off “groupies.”
Revisiting this sordid situation feels like a nasty reminder of the old politics as usual: of Clinton era dalliances and decades of philandering politicians. Smarmy politicos and their entourages corrupting “old fashioned” folks like Mr. and Mrs. Edwards. Oh, please.
The Obamas don’t seem to have let politics corrode their marriage; it's a miracle actually. When we see Barack and Michelle on date night and swoon, when we see the President at his daughters’ soccer game, even when we see him sexy and shirtless on vacation with his family, we can breath a sigh of relief. We don’t have to deal with families like the Edwards or Clintons and their sexual baggage. We can watch Elizabeth on the View and feel a momentary pang, and then move on to our real First Family.
Much of the discussion among bloggers focuses on if all this is somehow Elizabeth’s fault. Suburbanmomnotes says
“It is with a grave amount of sadness that I've been watching the media coverage of three high-profile women whose husbands have been accused of/have admitted to being unfaithful. While the stories, blog posts and analyses about the betrayed wives generally start out as sympathetic, inevitably things take a turn and the women are blamed, mocked, or worse….The vitriol is being aimed at the wrong people.”
Indeed, women have tried to relate to Mrs. Edwards. On the View, host Sherri Shephard used her own experience to try to bring Elizabeth out of her shell by relaying Sherri’s own experience with a straying husband and his child by another woman. Edwards didn't bite.
Goodbye to all that. I’m looking forward to another Obama date night. But if I ever find out Barack Obama had an affair, I’m going to jump off a bridge.