Itâ€™s Not That Complicated
By: Kristia Cavere
â€œShe [Elizabeth Edwards] may be smart, but she doesnâ€™t seem to know much about men.â€ Maureen Dowd, May 6, 2009
The hypocrisy of Elizabeth Edwards is apparent even before her recent interview with Oprah Winfrey begins. In the current issue of her magazine, Oprah writes that Mrs. John Edwards told her, â€œWeâ€™re not fancy people.â€ But Elizabeth declared this as they were walking through the Edwardsâ€™s 28,200 square-foot home, itself a very obvious sign of ostentation.
Mrs. Edwards recent book, â€œResilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities,â€ focuses on losing her son Wade in a tragic car accident, her personal battle with cancer, and her husbandâ€™s infidelity. Elizabethâ€™s courage after the death of her child and a health crisis did show strength, and she truly is an inspiration in those regards. But on the last subject of Johnâ€™s adultery, Mrs. Edwards has behaved in ways that are opposite to classy and composed, even for a betrayed wife. She seems oblivious to the effect her publicly insulting John will have on their three children, two of which are quite young and who should be shielded from such tirades.
When John Edwards began the love affair with his campaign staffer and videographer Rielle Hunter is unconfirmed; Ms. Hunterâ€™s sister publicly stated that their relationship began in early 2006. In July 2008 Mr. Edwards made tabloid headlines when he was photographed visiting Rielle and her daughter, Frances, and the next month John admitted his affair. What is seldom focused on is the long duration of Mr. Edwardsâ€™s romance with Ms. Hunter, and the years-long secrecy and cover-ups that were involved to allow him to discreetly visit her and Frances, who he took a very devoted interest in for a child that he claims is not his.
As the knowledge of Johnâ€™s relationship with Rielle became more known to his staffers, some members became determined to sabotage the Edwards presidential campaign should there be a chance of his being the Democratic nominee. This was done for political reasons with the intent of avoiding a potential scandal for their party, although one would have hoped that the primary purpose of these staffers would have been a point of principle to avoid the country going through such a fiasco. However, throughout Johnâ€™s campaign Elizabeth Edwards did not, even once, equivocate about her husband being the best candidate for our American president although she knew that his affair with Rielle could be exposed. This speaks very poorly to Mrs. Edwardsâ€™s character as she was not able to put her country, and even her political party, above her own personal quest for power.
If a Republican woman behaved as Mrs. Edwards did, she would have immediately been called a liar and fraud by the media. But wives of former Democratic presidential candidates are given compassionate, non-judgmental treatment and receive glowing book reviews.
During the interview which aired on Oprahâ€™s television show on May 7, Ms. Winfrey asked if Mrs. Edwards was still in love with her husband. Elizabeth responded, â€œYou know, thatâ€™s a complicated question,â€ and further stated, â€œNeither one of us is out the door so I guess itâ€™s day by day, but maybe itâ€™s month by month.â€ What is even more apparent than her lack of conviction is Mrs. Edwardsâ€™s self-righteousness and cattiness, evidenced by one of her spokeswomen admitting that Oprah was forbidden to mention Rielle Hunter by name. There are some who glorify in the victimhood of the perpetually wronged wife, and Elizabeth has shown herself to be one of those women. Mrs. Edwards is willing to use her personal pain for both profits and pity, garnering increasing prosperity and prominence, even at the expense of her children.
If Elizabeth Edwards was truly honorable, she would put her desire for societal sympathy behind her protecting her children from their parentâ€™s personal issues being discussed in detail publicly. She also would have encouraged her husband to recognize the innocent baby, Frances, an adorable one-year-old who looks exactly like John Edwards, as it is the responsible thing for a man to acknowledge his own child. As Ms. Rielle Hunter quietly raises Frances in northern New Jersey she has shunned publicity and continues to remain silent regarding her relationship with John Edwards; her lack of obsession with attention and making private matters public is a lesson that Elizabeth could learn from.
Itâ€™s not that complicated to know your own mind, feelings, and ability to forgive. The time is already overdue for Elizabeth Edwards to make a decision. She either needs to fully forgive John and stop punishing him and move forward with him (which she does not seem to be even close to based on her recent interviews), which includes partaking in every aspect that makes a whole marriage. Or, she needs to divorce him and end her sham of a matrimonial union, giving up some power for dignity.
Marriage is too serious to be entered into lightly. But it is also too important to remain in indefinitely when no trace of a real marriage exists anymore.