Benny's World

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Elizabeth Edwards Claims Her Spotlight

As most anyone knows, the interview on Oprah's show of EE and JRE was aired this afternoon.

Having seen the interview this evening, I was able to step back a bit, and at the same time, feel some affection for the couple. The story about Emma Claire pointing out from a book that romaine lettuce was good for those who had cancer tugged at my heart strings.

However, I want to point out with some problems in the edits. The timeline of the affair is not linear. There are two instances of when the "grocery store papers" (EE's words for tabloids) found out, October 2007, and then again in July 2008. Winfrey mentions both, but in the first instance, she uses footage of Edwards' denial from July 2008 in response to the October 2007 stories. The main discussion of the affair is placed on when Edwards was forced to admit his mistake publicly. That was July 2008, 7 months after he had dropped out of the race. That was omitted in the segment. Constantly, Elizabeth is having to explain what she understood and when, and I think the lack of a structured timeframe by Winfrey and her producers is what is causing the confusion for both Elizabeth and for the viewer.

Here is the timeline as I know it:

The affair happened sometime in 2006. My guess is not too far from summer as a contract was signed for videography of John's travels for antipoverty causes and for international travel.

John ends the affair sometime in December, with the videographer's last day being December 30th. John did not wish the videographer to accompany him on the campaign tour, but a friend still saw to it that she was with them and did not want to let go ( p 177 from Resilience). ---Point though, he still was very friendly with her for someone who didn't want her around--

John tells Elizabeth what happened on the 30th. She agrees the campaign has to continue despite her fears, and the rally took place in North Carolina, as planned.

Elizabeth's cancer returns in late March 2007. Although the Edwardses could have stopped the campaign, Elizabeth wants to press on, thinking this is one fling. (my own edit, perhaps she thought many politicians are accused of flings and often dismiss them)

National Enquirer and other gossip tabloids pick up the story in late summer, early fall. Denials are issued, including that of the videographer, who is pregnant.

January 2008, Edwards campaign comes in second in Iowa, third in NH, third in NV, and third in SC. With almost no money left, he has little choice but to suspend the campaign on January 30th.

Late February 2008, the videographer's baby is born.

March 2008, John is on the Jay Leno show, but is spotted staying at the Beverly Hilton. Is it coincidental it was the videographer's birthday?

July 2008, John gets caught by photographers, who were obviously tipped that Edwards was to be visiting the hotel. First, there are denials.

Elizabeth learns more of the truth that John has been more involved than he first let on.

Early August 2008, John admits the affair on ABC's Nightline.

Elizabeth's speaking engagement at the DNC Convention is cancelled.

Elizabeth opens a furniture store in Chapel Hill during the fall.

April 2009, John is contacted by the feds about possible misuse of funds from his PAC and his campaign.

And the rest is drama.

Now, here's what I think about it, fresh impressions.

Unlike Taylor Marsh, I don’t believe it’s not a sordid mess though. The other woman will have to do a paternity test if she indeed insists her daughter is John’s. As Henry Bloget at HuffPo pointed out, she risks her reputation and lots of money if the DNA isn’t John Reid Edwards’ child.

Regarding the allegation of misappropriated funds, the payment money is a result of late filings for the PAC, and one issue that can be resolved, just as the $400 consultant’s style was an error in filing. If it isn’t, then he pays a fine. So what, he has money in the bank.

And the last sentence is probably more important.

The other woman isn't anywhere in their league, and Elizabeth made that clear, but politely, saying that none of her friends "were like her." She is totally different in how she behaves and not of the same kind of family life as they know and built it.

It’s my gut that Elizabeth isn’t interested in John’s political career or desire for any kind of appointed public service at all anymore. She’s already sacrificed enough. She's got her own business, and John helps her with it, along with other projects.

It will be up to John as to whether or not he wishes to apologize to staffers and supporters for these kinds of risks, especially as one presumes that more went on in the affair beyond 2006. Moi, I don’t need an apology because his message, more than him or Elizabeth as people, struck a deep chord with me. I think he did believe that it was more important to honor work over wealth. It was populist theme, and I think in their hearts politically, it was sincere. John certainly remembered what it was like to be from humble means.

Since it’s over (his campaigning for anything), they can retreat, and they aren’t like me or my late momma. It’s a different level that I understand. Sort of I wish many of us had that kind of extancy because they can financially; however, that’s why Oprah gets the interview as she is in their same boat. And that’s OK.

To me, there isn’t much of story now, despite what many hope for in smelling blood in the political waters. It is now a story that women (especially someone like Mrs. Spitzer or Hollywood types) of Elizabeth Edwards’ stature can learn from when this happens to them. Maybe women who are middle class can learn to not to let infidelity redefine them except in a positive way. I'm hoping Elizabeth will address that in her book readings and articles to come.

And I hope Elizabeth will push as part of the health reform agenda the need for family counseling services.

Elizabeth is very much like Eleanor Roosevelt. She has found her own spotlight.

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  • The entire truth may never be known and really should be something private within the Edwards family; however, the public is curious because of all the denials, misleading statements, etc. as well as the fact of trying to understand how anyone could forgive in the situation.

    It sounds as if the affair likely did continue after 2006 and the child could be Edwards’ daughter. If so (and the tabloid is claiming a paternity test is imminent), it makes the forgiveness harder to understand. How could anyone admit to one indiscretion not only knowing it was longer term but then continue the affair after receiving forgiveness? One thinks of Elizabeth standing by her husband’s side, speaking on his behalf, even renewing their wedding vows while he continued to be unfaithful. It’s just too difficult to fathom!

    While many people would have made different decisions in a similar situation, it is a decision for Elizabeth Edwards and no one else. Some people can rise to a level that seems amazing. The woman who was shot in the face by her husband and required a face transplant and numerous other surgeries forgave her husband! The Amish community in Pennsylvania with the shooting at the school killing several children forgave the shooter! It would be a better world if more people could reach that level of compassion but at the very least, we shouldn’t condemn anyone for any act of forgiveness.

    I fear the road ahead may be rough for Elizabeth Edwards. Surely she will handle it with grace and dignity but it will still be painful. May God bless her and her family.

    By Blogger indyvoter, at 11:01 AM  

  • The story is confusing and compounded by lies printed, too. The tabloids take the truth and embellish it however they want. People assume everything is true because anything is true. For example, the National Enquirer printed their "spy photo" of Edwards holding Hunter's baby and said it was taken at the hotel in July 2008. The photo shows up everywhere and is still talked about. (Oprah mentioned it.) Later the NE editor admits it wasn't taken that date but gives no other information. Of course, that statement receives little or no attention.

    Recently I saw a link ( to a site with photos of John Edwards working out at a hotel gym in JANUARY 2008 wearing the same shirt and displaying the same sweat stains as in the spy photo. They were even smart enough to make the photoshop not look too good to support the spycam story. It's disgusting the lengths they will go to destroying lives in pursuit of a dollar!

    Speaking of in pursuit of a dollar, does anyone believe Hunter hasn't been the source of every story in the tabloids and the photos published of her daughter? What a horrible thing to do to her own child.

    Can someone explain why Hunter cares what Elizabeth Edwards thinks of her? She certainly didn't care about it before. And does she actually think Elizabeth Edwards would do anything but despise her? It's not like it can hurt her reputation.

    Of course, her sister said Hunter knows who the father is because her sister isn’t promiscuous. I guess her sister never read McInerney’s book about her sister's cocaine fueled, oversexed life in the 80s. The entire family seems to live in their own reality. That would be okay if they weren’t hurting other people.

    By Blogger Anonymous, at 11:26 AM  

  • I just heard that Resilience is currently number 9 on amazon's bestseller list. Congratulations Elizabeth!

    They also have an interesting Q&A with Mrs. Edwards at Q&A regarding this book and some general topics.

    By Blogger indyvoter, at 2:11 PM  

  • Meanwhile, the USA is going to Hell in a handbasket.

    By Blogger Cherubim, at 8:34 PM  

  • What I love most is Elizabeth saying that it doesn't matter who that baby is or who the father is - it's does not involve her! How I admire that and she's absolutely right. If JE is the father, that's his business, it does not affect her. The important thing is that she has her family intact. I finally come to understand why she did not kick him to the curb - why let some "bi#ch" take what took 30 years to build?

    As for JE, he will meet the judge in the future - it's something he has to live with. Great interview and great write up Benny!

    By Blogger Jean, at 8:11 AM  

  • I too thought that the sister's comment regarding Hunter knowing who the father is because her sister isn’t promiscuous. The sister must think its okay that Hunter slept with and has a baby with married man though.

    By Blogger StandupGuy?, at 3:11 PM  

  • Either Hunter's sister hasn't actually met her or she is the sister who doesn't speak to her.

    According to a Salon article (, Jay McInerney "was so 'intrigued and appalled' by the hedonistic Hunter and her friends that they became the raw material for his 1988 novel, Story of My Life. At the time, Hunter was an aspiring Manhattan actress, who ran with a crowd as devoted to cocaine as art."

    "In a 2005 discussion between Hunter and McInerney in the now defunct Breathe Magazine, McInerney recalled meeting Hunter at Nell's, a famous New York club. She disputes that they met there, but confesses that 'so much of [Story of My Life] was real.'"

    "For me you're a little bit frozen in time, a little bit Alison Poole, the 21-year-old party girl in that book who runs around New York going to night clubs, doing drugs, and abusing credit cards."

    "In one scene, Poole scams $1,000 from a Wall Street type with whom she had an affair -- who gave her a sexually transmitted disease -- by claiming she is pregnant by him and needs money for an abortion. Later, Poole falls in love with a commodities trader with a thing for Shakespeare, but ultimately they betray each other."

    It seems as if she hasn't changed at all but she definitely isn't in the front pew at services every Sunday!

    By Blogger Anonymous, at 4:57 PM  

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