0 comment Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | admin
When Oprah's magazine came last week, I flipped to the Elizabeth Edwards interview immediately. Why was she thrusting herself back into the limelight, zig-zagging the talk-show circuit to pour more salt on her wounds? Reminding everyone that when she asked them to support her husband for president -- with their money and their time -- she knew full well he'd had an affair that could derail him.
Everything about this media tour was peculiar.
"We're not fancy people," she tells Oprah as they squish into a sofa in her 28,000-square-foot house. "All we need is a comfortable place to sit and have a conversation."
The couple moved into this "dream" house four months before John Edwards announced his second presidential bid.
His announcement, as we all know now, was virtually contemporaneous with his confession to Elizabeth that "there had been a night."
But even with her cancer, his infidelity, and the death of a son, their magnificent home softens the blows. She tells Oprah, "it's hard to sit in this house -- even with the things I face -- and think, Boy, my life really stinks."
She recounts the beginning of John's affair in excruciating detail, all the way down to the "pick-up" line Ms. Hunter allegedly used to seduce him. "And then he went to dinner at a nearby restaurant, and when he walked back, she was standing in front of the hotel and said to him, 'You are so hot.'"
And she wanted to know every detail, she tells Oprah. "I'm a puzzle doer. I had some pieces of the puzzle, and I felt it was going to make sense if I had all the pieces."
Yet, when Oprah asks Elizabeth exactly what John told her ("December 30 he comes and he tells you he's had this indiscretion. Did he use the word indiscretion?"), Elizabeth is foggy. "You'd think I'd remember, but it's sort of a fuzz."
I can't relate. A conversation that would be etched into my brain is, for her, a convenient fuzz.
In perhaps her biggest non sequitur, she says John loves her, she's decided to forgive him, and she's giving him a chance to earn back her trust. "If I had led an absolutely brainless life, I suppose I would find that harder to do." What?
An especially revealing moment came when she explained she also stayed with John because she "wanted to protect him. I wanted all of us to come out of it like we had been, so we could keep our story."
Yes, she does have cancer and it's awful, it really is; she doesn't even know how much time she has left. But how she chooses to spend her time is baffling. "Should I be organizing the costume closet right now . . . or can that wait?"
She proudly tells Oprah she spent three weeks organizing her nine year-old son's Legos.
I cannot relate.
But it was her disingenuousness that took my breath away. She prohibited Oprah from using Rielle Hunter's name in the interview. Yet Elizabeth maintains that it doesn't matter whether her husband is the father of Hunter's child. "Whatever the facts are, that doesn't change my life."
Really? That her children may have another sibling doesn't change anything? That her husband may have another child he will need to love and support (and so far hasn't) . . . wouldn't change her life?
Oprah gently prods her: "But the truth is that most of us don't know men who meet women in hotels and hold babies that are not their own." Elizabeth's response? "Oh, golly, then you don't know many politicians. Holding babies is our business."
And here, another brilliant dodge. "Have you asked him if it is his child?" Oprah asks. "He's talked to me about questions people ask. He doesn't know any more than I know," says a slippery Elizabeth.
Does she blame the "other woman"? "I blame John. But I think that women have to have more respect for other women. I've created this life. It takes a lot of work to put together a marriage, to put together a family and a home. * * * You have to have enough respect for other human beings to leave their lives alone."
Fair enough, Elizabeth. But what about Cheri Young? Remember her? Her husband Andrew Young took a hit for Team Edwards by claiming he was father of Hunter's child. Was Cheri shown respect? Or her three children?
And what of Elizabeth's own children? When she goes on Oprah for the big interview, and appears on Larry King, all to sell this book called Resilience, is she leaving their lives alone?
Her explanation for why is she doing this is hardly satisfying.
She says when she first found out about the affair, she wanted to back out of writing the book. "But then you start to think, Am I going to say I can't do these things, or am I going to take my life back? So although it was hard and in some ways painful to write, it was a statement that I own my own experiences. Nobody else has control of them."
So this is about control? Okay. But what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Ms. Hunter has decided to assert some control and "own" her own experiences, too. After a quiet year, Ms. Hunter has changed her mind and now wants a paternity test. Since Elizabeth has pushed her back into the media glare, this heretofore silent, secluded single mother is pushing back, showing some resilience of her own.