Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Minstrelsy of Victimhood

A few words about Elizabeth Edwards: what a cow. Really. Sure, she’s as terminal as a kiosk at Heathrow, but frankly it’s quite difficult to have empathy for the old gal and her one woman traveling pity party. She's giving victims everywhere a bad name. Have you ever seen someone in such denial? It was nigh-on unbearable how that gloating proxy for the American public, Oprah, rubbernecking her way into their creepily huge/empty basketball court (a metaphor for their barren marriage?), stood by while her husband submitted to one final humiliation in the klieg lights, their conjungal misery laid bare. Oh, the humanity. Ms. Edwards’ gambit reeks of desperation: a feeble attempt at character assassination, punishment of her husband for his transgression and validation of her relationship with a man who doesn’t deserve her love. All in one swell foop, and under the rubric of “getting the truth out there” and “inspiring others” with her struggle and "grace under pressure".

It is obvious Ms. Edwards is a smart woman making a stupid choice here, unlike her husband, who is obviously a man who has been making stupid choices since he could unzip his pants on the campaign trail. There will be a special place at the urinal of political ignominy for him, next to Larry Craig.

This Rielle Hunter – her name so assiduously avoided in the press at Edwards’ request -- is quite plainly trash. Just look at her – she reminds me of every full-of-it, perky peroxide bitch I ever worked with. Those roots! The lipstick! That hair rag! The quasi-spiritual jibberjabber! She looks like she queefs a lot. One can't imagine her delivering the ultimate bowel movement, the "it" that Ms. Edwards so gingerly dances around, the elephant in the room she clearly cannot face.

But Ms. Edwards’ victim game is backfiring, and putting this observer on the side of the other woman. Why? She has put out a self-serving and mendacious tome and commenced a degrading (think of the Children!) press junket, under the guise of concern for the welfare of the US. Where was her concern back when this mess began? When she declared to the audience that she had insisted Edwards run because of their shared “vision for this country” one was induced to gagging. Her mercenary motives are at the zenith of their transparency.

As far as getting at the root of the truth of her struggles, let’s face it: Ms. Edwards is still dissimulating, and is fooling no one. Although there is at the moment no direct proof that her husband has sired a love child with Hunter, or that her husband misappropriated campaign funds, the circumstantial evidence is mounting, no pun intended. Ms. Edwards’ walk-and-talk-show tour has squashed the turd underfoot, but the shit streaks remain indelibly caked on the heel.

The other fallacy she is propagating is that the affair was one-sided, that her husband was merely a fallen angel, a weak man whose knees buckled at the deployment of those three little words, echoing off the walls of a campaign hotel lobby: "You are so hot." How above-it-all she seems in her rarefied North Carolina air, but her words are an affront to Other Women and Single Mothers of Bastard Children everywhere. Sure her husband has absorbed some of the blame, but only in terms of her reaction to it. Her own martyrdom, compounded by illness and infidelity, has ensured that the legacy of their relationship, according to her own tortured and deluded logic, remains intact despite everything.

But the language she uses reveals the chinks in the armor of their much-ballyhooed relationship. When she snarkily speaks of “putting in the time” or “doing the work” – pointedly contrasted with the unnamed Miss Hunter’s “bargain basement” and cheap “hotel room” assignations -- little does Ms. Edwards know that she makes it sound like clocking in and out. This is all too common in today’s therapeutic palaver. Many self-righteous new age couples speak of their relationships in terms of a convoluted manifestation of a Puritan work ethic in order to justify mediocrity or settling for less-than. I knew one couple who justified their love by claiming that a relationship was like being trapped in an office building. You keep going and every once and a while you hit a wall, they insisted, which you then have to break down, in order to proceed to the next level. Then you keep going until you hit the next wall, which must also be broken down, and so on, ad infinitum. I guess the deeper your walls went, the more profound the relationship. I’m not sure if they ever hit the roof (would seem a bit difficult if they were ploughing horizontally through parallel walls -- you'd come out the side, more like) but I had never heard such Balderdash in my life. The only way they could rationalize being an unhappy "unit" was to make it sound like drywall installation or being trapped in some horrible existential labyrinth. If this is the model for modern marriage, better to simply play the whore. I’m not sure Ms. Hunter knows what role she is in, the Madonna or the Whore, but it’s glaringly apparent that she and the heir apparent are waiting in the wings for Ms. Edwards’ final act.

1 comment:

Daniel Lazar said...

I have not, nor do I plan to, read Mrs. Edwards' book. However, your scathing indictment of her seems misguided on two grounds.

First, this should be a non-story and one is better served to avoid such sideshows when the main stage is both more important and more amusing.

Second, Mrs. Edwards has written a book as a means to control the narrative of her life. You and I, for the most part, have the benefit of being able to craft our own respective narratives. Her narrative has been taken hostage both by her husband's ambitious political campaigns (during which her story and the story of her marriage was written by advisors) and by the media (who have chewed her up and spit her out at their leisure). Now that her husband is is in the twilight of his career (whether he likes it or not) she can step forward and offer her narrative.

She is not a "cow" having a "pity party" nor is she playing "the victim". She is a decent woman whose life has thrown her a few curveballs (read: the death of a child, cancer and an unfaithful husband).

She strikes me as a decent woman who wants to set the record straight while her health allows her to do so (she is still at risk for a third bout of cancer). Her most recent book devotes a very small portion to her husband's infidelity and she should not be made accountable for the media's decision to cling to that small section.

She certainly does not deserve your ire--if for no other reason than because there are MUCH bigger fish to fry. Redirect your wrath.