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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Case for Censorship

I know that book burnings are kind of the hallmark of narrow-minded thinking, but I'm considering hosting one.

Because the fewer copies of Rielle Hunter's memoir "What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me," that there are on this earth, the better.  Much better.

Rielle Hunter is the woman who had an affair with former presidential candidate and pretty boy wannabe, John Edwards.  The affair was exposed as Mr. Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, was dying from a recurring bout of cancer.  It produced a love child, a forced exit from the campaign trail, and a trial for misuse of campaign funds.

And now, it has produced a "tell all" book.

Like many would-be book burners, I have not read the book.  I never will.  But now that it's hit bookstands and Ms. Hunter is prattling into any microphone offered to her about her magnum opus, details of its contents have emerged.  Those details are flabbergasting.

I'm not sure there's any polite way to write a book about the affair you had with a national figure that tore apart his marriage and perhaps proved to be the final nail in the coffin his wife was trying to avoid.  But Ms. Hunter's book outline apparently had no place for "polite" or any of its cousins, like "dignified," "respectful," or even "thoughtful."  Because the book she has churned out might as well have been titled "How To Be Tasteless Without Really Trying."

The book includes steamy details about Ms. Hunter's trysts with Mr. Edwards, including an explanation for how she became pregnant with his child.  She preens about her pick-up line: a direct "You're so hot!" and she had him, as she's recounted, "jumping into her arms."  She tries to paint herself as something other than a homewrecker.

All of that is basically stomach-churning and enough of a general turn-off.  Ms. Hunter wasn't content to stop there, though.  She spends at least some portion of the book trashing Elizabeth Edwards.  The woman she deceived.  The woman who was standing by her husband's side during a presidential campaign just as she received news that her cancer had returned, more aggressively than before.  The woman who has since died, leaving behind 3 children.  The woman an entire nation got behind and largely adored. 

Ms. Hunter thinks we all were hood-winked.  According to her, John Edwards was not a demon for cheating on his wife.  According to her, she was not a mistress, despite the fact she was exactly that.  No, no.  According to her, Elizabeth was the bad apple in the love triangle Ms. Hunter created.  Indeed, Ms. Hunter says Elizabeth was "a witch on wheels," "venomous," "crazy" and given to fits of  "rage."  One of the reasons she wrote the book, Ms. Hunter claims, is to show the world that Elizabeth was not the saint we took her for.

It's hard for me to react to all of this because my brain just sputters.  Rielle Hunter has now placed herself in the pantheon of humans who have exhibited the least amount of awareness ever in the history of humans.  She lacks self-awareness, in that she does not seem to note the preposterousness of critizing the reaction of a woman who has just found out her husband has been wildly cheating on her  Hey, Ms. Hunter?  How was Elizabeth supposed to react when she found out that her smarmy husband had been porking you from North Carolina to North Dakota while she was at home raising his kids, attending his fundraisers, and listening to his puffy speeches?  Do tell.  To my mind, you're lucky she was nothing more than a "witch" on wheels.  If it'd been me, I'd have been a bitch saddled to an AK-47.

She also is entirely lacking in external awareness.  She does not seem to have read the pulse of the American public, which has already decided that the mistress (that'd be you, Rielle) is the witch lady, and the cancer-stricken wife (that'd be Elizabeth) is pretty close to a saint for presenting herself with dignity in the aftermath of the Hiroshima Rielle and John detonated in the waning months of her life.   She never publicly trashed either her husband or his mistress.  She had the forum to do so, but she declined.  Ms. Hunter, on the other hand, raced to the bully pulpit as soon as she learned what Microsoft Word is.  And she fails to recognize that the rest of us view that as uncomfortable, at the very best.  A better word is probably unseemly.  Or disgusting.

There's the addage that we're supposed to speak well of the dead.  Even if you come at this entire mess with the most objective of attitudes, Elizabeth Edwards should at least be accorded that respect.  But I guess if you don't respect a woman enough to keep your hands off her husband, you probably can't be expected to keep your griping about her to yourself after her early and tragic departure from the family you willingly destroyed.

Ms. Hunter says she undertook this effort to tell her side of the story.  Presumably, she thought that in so doing, she would emerge somewhat less tarnished.  Somehow better.  Instead, she comes out way, way worse.  As if that was even possible.  She shows herself to be a narcissitic and unfeeling weasel acting on a juvenile impulse: steal at least a piece of the sympathy, the heart, and the affection the other girl won.  

The problem for Ms. Hunter is that the other girl wasn't a girl, but a woman, a mother and a wife.  And she won our affections fair and square.

You, Rielle, should spend less time writing books and more time reading them.  The self-help section would be a good place to start. 

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